Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos has welcomed a report by the Commission for Children and Young People into maintaining cultural connections for Aboriginal children in care.
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, an official press release said.
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, including:
- 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
- $637,000 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.
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.
Enshrined in Victorian law, the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle requires child protection to seek the most culturally appropriate placements for Aboriginal children who cannot live with their families.