media release

First Aboriginal Action Plan to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people in care

The Department for Child Protection has released its first Aboriginal Action Plan with the aim of helping reduce the over representation of Aboriginal young people and children coming into care.

The new Action Plan ensures the participation of children and family members in decision-making and the Department for Child Protection will partner with Aboriginal organisations to ensure children and young people maintain connections to family, community and culture.

The plan sets out actions that will be taken to strengthen implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP). The new DCP plan follows the State Government’s new Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan launched by the Premier in December.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the State Government was committed to improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people in care.

“We all have a role in addressing the over representation of Aboriginal children and young people in care and that is why it is so important to have a clear plan that details the efforts that must be made in order to enact change,” said Minister Sanderson.

“All Aboriginal families have the right to access quality, culturally safe, universal and targeted services necessary for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to thrive.

“The Department’s new Aboriginal Action Plan shows our strong commitment to making a real and lasting improvement to the lives of Aboriginal children and young people and being accountable for achieving the actions in the plan by 2020.”

Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said the Aboriginal Action Plan was a significant step forward for the department in improving outcomes for vulnerable Aboriginal children and their families who come to the attention of the department.

“This Action Plan is significant in helping to support longer term change and achieving the vision set out in the Family Matters campaign – of which we are a signatory – to eliminate the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040,” said Ms Taylor.

“All of the actions in the Plan have clear, demonstrable deliverables and our staff are dedicated to ensuring that we have tangible outcomes by next year.

Ms Taylor will also sign a Memorandum of Administrative Arrangement (MoAA) with the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC) to progress the child protection commitments and relationships within the Buthera Agreement.

“Our co-signing of the MoAA with the NNAC on the Buthera Agreement is a demonstration of our commitment to work together to better support Narungga children who are in contact with the child protection system,” said Ms Taylor. Buthera Agreement Chief Executive Klynton Wanganeen said the MoAA would guarantee a cooperative and collaborative approach, between the department and the NNAC, to co-design and deliver on a process to reduce the numbers of Narungga children in care.

“It spells out how we will work together to ensure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle has regard for Narungga culture and kinship,” said Mr Wanganeen.

“The child is the centre of our families and community. We are confident that this and our Buthera Agreement will allow us to deal effectively with the determinants, break down silos and have strong families within our community.”

To support the Aboriginal Action Plan and illustrate the commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, the department has partnered with Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara artist Elizabeth Close and Ochre Dawn Creative Industries – led by Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri woman Rebecca Wessels – to produce an art piece that will be used across all relevant departmental documents.

“It was very important for the artwork to embody a family and child-centred model through which complex family situations are navigated,” said Ms Close.

“The thread that ties all of these elements together is a single thread – representing the journey of the child and young person in care and underlines the importance of all of these elements collectively.”

The new Aboriginal artwork will be launched alongside the Aboriginal Action Plan.