In Western Australia, Aboriginal children represent more than 57 per cent of children in care and spend more time on average in care than non-Aboriginal children. Working in partnership with the Aboriginal community to address this overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care is a priority for the Specialist Child Protection Unit (SCPU).
Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making
The Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) process supports the right to self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to make decisions on how to keep their child or young person safe and connected to their community. AFLDM provides the family with a culturally safe space in which meetings are facilitated by an Aboriginal practitioner and families are supported to make culturally based and family-driven decisions (SNAICC 2018).
The planning and co-design process has commenced. The two-year project was outlined in the Western Australia Recovery Plan as a key project for supporting vulnerable people. The pilot will complement a wide range of other initiatives including the Aboriginal In-Home Support Service and, expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations sector in Western Australia. The AFLDM approach also complements Signs of Safety which remains Communities primary child protection framework.
Work undertaken to date
Communities held four roundtables in late 2020 which were facilitated by Pro Vice Chancellor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership, Professor Rhonda Marriott of Murdoch University and Associate Professor Melissa O’Donnell from the Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia. The majority of the roundtable participants were Aboriginal people or representatives from Aboriginal organisations.
Roundtable participants gave their input on cohort groups for the trial; pilot locations; selection process for convenors; ways of working with families; process stages; training to support the pilot and governance and evaluation of the pilot. The feedback from the roundtables will influence the ongoing co-design of the pilot.
The next stage of the project involves the procurement of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in each pilot location for convenors to facilitate AFLDM meetings. Separate processes will be undertaken to appoint a training provider and an evaluator. Further information is available on TendersWA.
An external Implementation Group was established in February 2021 to guide and make decisions on the design of the pilot. Members were selected independently and include:
- Ms Corina Martin, Aboriginal Family Legal Service
- Ms Emma Truman, Family Inclusion Network Western Australia
- Ms Glenda Kickett, Australian Childhood Foundation
- Ms Kate George, Price Waterhouse Cooper
- Ms Rekisha Eades, Department of Health
- Mr Damien Parriman, Aarnja Ltd
- Mr Glenn Pearson, Telethon Kids Institute
- Mr Jonathon Reid, Aboriginal Legal Service Western Australia
- Mr Keiran Dent, Wungening Aboriginal Cooperation
- Mr Will Hayward, Curtin University.
In supporting the Implementation Group, the role of SCPU is to:
- create a forum where the Implementation Group can make decisions about facets of the model
- adopt processes which uphold self-determination for Aboriginal people
- ensure culturally informed and responsive decisions made by the Implementation group are realised
- respond to Implementation Group feedback and advice on matters related to the pilot
- undertake the role of secretariat by organising meetings, generating agendas and associated papers, and providing further resources to enable the Implementation Group to make informed critical decisions
- manage and uphold the role and responsibilities of the Department of Communities as per Government policy and legislation as part of the co-design model.
- State Government acts to address overrepresentation of Aboriginal kids in care (26 May 2021)
- Geraldton to host Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot (5 May 2021)
Any comments about the pilot or AFLDM process can be provided to the Specialist Child Protection Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.