Aboriginal Representative Organisations Pilot

Aboriginal Representative Organisations will support Aboriginal children in care to maintain and strengthen connections to culture, community, family and Country.
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Aboriginal Representative Organisation Pilot

Aboriginal Representative Organisations will support Aboriginal children in care to maintain and strengthen connection to culture, community, family and Country.

The Department of Communities (Communities) is progressing significant legislative reform to enable and support child protection processes and decisions that are culturally informed and culturally safe for Aboriginal people in WA.

This reform agenda is underpinned by the State Government’s commitment to Target 12 of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, to reduce the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home are by 45 percent.

On 19 October 2021, the Children and Community Services Amendment Act 2021 (the Amendment Act) received Royal Assent. The Amendment Act includes provisions which, once proclaimed, will require AROs to be consulted on placement arrangements and cultural support planning for Aboriginal children in care, or entering care, in their community.

The introduction of AROs aim to strengthen the application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and ensure Aboriginal children in care maintain close connection to family, culture and Country.

To prepare for the new legislative requirements, Communities is implementing a phased approach to operationalising AROs and a specialised service model across Western Australia:

  • Stage 1: 12-month ARO Pilot (the Pilot) in Armadale and the Kimberley region.

The Pilot commenced on 1 November 2022 and was successfully delivered by local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) Yorganop Association and Aarnja Ltd. in the Armadale district, and the Kimberley Region respectively.

The aim of the Pilot was to test a service model, that was designed in partnership with the Aboriginal community, for target cohorts and to inform how AROs will be implemented statewide when provisions are enacted in legislation.

  • Stage 2: transition from the Pilot to state-wide rollout

The roll-out of AROs state-wide will occur through a phased implementation approach, which, subject to confirmation of funding, will commence in mid-2024.

This transition stage will include activities including finalisation of the ARO service model, the development of relevant regulations, building ACCO sector readiness, tender processes restricted to ACCOs and training for child protection staff.

To ensure continuity of service for Aboriginal children and families during the transition to statewide rollout, the State Government has committed a further $1.3 million to extend the ARO service delivery model in the Armadale and Kimberley for an additional 12 months, which commenced following conclusion of the Pilot in October 2023.

More information about the Pilot is available in the Frequently Asked Questions.

ACCO Sector Building Grant Program

In March 2023, the ARO ACCO Sector Building Grants Program (Grants Program) was released. While the ARO Service is only available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Armadale district and Kimberley region, these grants are intended to support, strengthen and empower prospective AROs to increase readiness of the sector to be more competitive in future tender processes and to carry out ARO legislative functions in in the future.

The Grants Program was open to ACCOs that aspire to or provide services in relation to Aboriginal people on behalf of the Department of Communities and are interested in delivering ARO services in the future. The Grants Program enabled ACCOs to seek funding for activities to strengthen and build their capacity.

11 ACCOs across the state, representative of both Metropolitan and regional locations have been successful through the Grants Program, resulting in an investment in the ACCO sector totalling more than $550,000.

Important note: The following ACCOs are grant recipients only, and will be required to compete in future competitive tender processes to deliver the ARO service in their community.

Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal CorporationMidwest-Gascoyne
Great Southern Noongar Aboriginal CorporationGreat Southern
Julyardi Aboriginal CorporationPilbara
Kaata-Koorliny Employment and Enterprise Development Aboriginal CorporationWheatbelt
Karla Kuliny Aboriginal CorporationPerth Metropolitan, Wheatbelt and Midwest-Gascoyne
Langford Aboriginal Association Inc.Perth Metropolitan
Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal CorporationPilbara
Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni Aboriginal CorporationGoldfields-Esperance
Sister Kate's Home Kids Aboriginal CorporationPerth Metropolitan
Southwest Aboriginal Medical Service Aboriginal CorporationSouthwest
Yorganop Association IncorporatedPerth Metropolitan, South West, Wheatbelt and Great Southern