Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today welcomed a landmark report examining the circumstances of about 1000 Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria’s out-of-home care system.
Always Was, Always Will Be, Koori Children is the result of nearly three years of work by the Aboriginal Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Department of Health and Human Services and Taskforce 1000 members.
The report makes 79 recommendations aimed at improving the cultural connection of Koori children and young people who are unable to live with their families – and providing better help for families earlier.
Of the report’s recommendations that relate to the Department of Health and Human Services, all have been accepted in full, in principle or in part – with some of the recommendations already in progress or completed.
This will support the Andrews Labor Government’s significant efforts to improve the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care.
We continue to recruit Aboriginal staff in child protection policy and practice, with additional staff members employed across DHHS since 1 June 2016 taking the Aboriginal workforce to more than 150.
Four Aboriginal graduate positions will be offered at the department in 2017, and another three tertiary students in priority fields will receive substantial scholarships to complete their studies.
We will report progress regularly to the Commission for Children and Young People, and will bring together Aboriginal organisations and community services to address the over-representation of children in out-of-home care.
Earlier this year, the Government’s $168 million Roadmap for Reform was introduced to shift the children and family services system from crisis response to prevention and early intervention.
It includes major investments in support services for vulnerable families, extra child protection workers, culturally sensitive support for Aboriginal children, and more foster and kinship carers, including Aboriginal carers.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“Maintaining children’s connection to culture is absolutely essential for Aboriginal children and young people, and we know more must be done to help every individual.”
“This is a significant report and I look forward to working with Mr Jackomos, Aboriginal organisations and the community sector on addressing the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins
“It’s clear that as a community, we have a long way to go to address the significant and long term problems illustrated in this report.”
“We’ll continue working to improve the lives of Aboriginal children across Victoria, and particularly those in out-of-home care.”
The Andrews Labor Government’s significant efforts to improve the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care include:
- The Aboriginal Children’s Forum, held quarterly, that brings together Aboriginal agencies, government and service providers to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care
- $5.3 million over two years to support cultural planning for all Aboriginal children in out of home care
- $2.2 million over two years for Aboriginal organisations to manage more kinship care placements
- $3.6 million over two years for the Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice and Support Service (ACSASS), the first funding boost in a decade
- $1 million for recruitment of Aboriginal foster carers
- $880,000 for the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency to enable the delivery of Section 18 services (which allows the Secretary of the department to authorise the principal officer an Aboriginal agency to undertake the powers and duties ordinarily undertaken by the Secretary in respect to Aboriginal children subject to a Children’s Court protection order
- $880,000 for a transition team that will implement a strategy to transition support services for Aboriginal children and young people who are involved in child protection to Aboriginal organisations
- $687,000 to improve access to Targeted Care Packages for Aboriginal children and young people
- $340,000 for a Return to Country program to help Aboriginal children in care stay connected to their culture
- $220,000 to provide more support to Aboriginal children and young people leaving care.
Reviewed 19 August 2020