In an Australian first the Andrews Labor Government is taking the next vital step in Aboriginal self-determination with the launch of the Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care Program.
The program realises the implementation of Section 18 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 giving greater responsibility for the safety and protection of vulnerable children subject to Children’s Court protection orders to approved Aboriginal organisations.
This new approach to child protection recognises that the needs of Aboriginal children and young people are best met by Aboriginal community services, allowing them to provide support to these children and their families in a manner that best meets their cultural and community needs.
Section 18 allows the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to authorise the principal officer of an Aboriginal agency to perform specified functions and powers in relation to an Aboriginal child subject to a Children’s Court protection order.
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency will be the first Aboriginal organisation authorised for the new program under Section 18. They will take responsibility for case planning and care management of 36 Aboriginal children and young people in the Northern Metropolitan region.
Trial pilots of the new program are underway in the Dja Dja Warrung region by Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative and previously in the Northern Metropolitan Region by Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency.
Six of the 13 children involved in the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency pilot were re-unified and there has been strong family engagement with Aboriginal agency staff in the current Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative pilot.
The new program and pilots have been co-designed alongside Aboriginal agencies, the Commission for Children and Young People and Community Service Organisations.
The initiative supports the Government’s $168 million Roadmap for Reform to give Aboriginal people responsibility for the care and decision-making of Aboriginal children and families.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“This Australian first is about closing the gap by empowering Aboriginal communities to help their children receive the care they need.”
“We’re addressing the unacceptable over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and improving outcomes for Aboriginal children involved with child protection.”
Quote attributable to Acting Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Luke Donnellan
“We are leading the way on self-determination by ensuring that Aboriginal Victorians are at the centre of decision making for vulnerable Aboriginal children.”