The Andrews Labor Government is expanding key supports for vulnerable Aboriginal children in care to ensure they remain connected to culture, community and country.
At the Aboriginal Children’s Forum today, Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos announced $13.7 million to continue Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC), which enables Aboriginal agencies to assume legal responsibility for the welfare of a child in care.
The Australian-first initiative – which began last year – allows a child to receive culturally sensitive planning and case management from an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) that understands their needs.
Under the new funding boost, two extra case work teams will be recruited by 2020, to triple the number of Aboriginal children to receive case management to 108.
This funding – part of $53.3 million announced in the Victorian Budget 2018/19 to support Aboriginal children – will also enable ACAC to be delivered by a further two ACCOs, with a total of 216 children authorised plus a fourth ACCO in pre-authorisation phase by 2020.
A further $6.4 million will be provided to ACCOs to grow their services, and support an estimated 331 Aboriginal people to complete a VET or higher degree – including in social work or community services – or traineeships.
The Labor Government is also working to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system by enhancing culturally appropriate programs.
As part of the $10.8 million investment through the latest Budget, $5 million will be used to continue to expand the Koori Youth Justice Program, which provides community-based intervention and responses for Aboriginal young people at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
The program provides early intervention assistance to Aboriginal young people while at school, as well as camps and other connecting-to-culture activities. There has been a 27 per cent increase in the number of young people engaged in this program since 2017.
The Labor Government is prioritising Aboriginal child and family services under its landmark Roadmap for Reform agenda and the ground-breaking tripartite agreement, Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement.
We are building family and community capacity, reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care and keeping children who cannot live safely at home connected to their extended family, culture and country.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“We’ve invested $225 million in Aboriginal child and family services since 2014 – more than doubling the investment by the previous Liberals Government.”
“The future of Aboriginal children matters – and that’s why we will continue to prioritise Aboriginal self-determination and focus on improving outcomes for them.”