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If the child or family is Aboriginal

Aboriginal people are over-represented in the child protection system for a variety of reasons. As a result of the policies, practices and actions of previous government agencies, there is often mistrust of welfare and other government agencies in Aboriginal communities.

Respect and sensitivity

Consultation, respectful relationships and cultural sensitivity are needed in order to work effectively with Aboriginal people to ensure the safety of children and young people.

Right to participation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ right to participate in the care and protection of their children is included in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. This includes the promotion of self determination. Consultation and participation in decision making about Aboriginal children and young people are strategies that promote self determination.

Focus on the child's safety

The Act also recognises that the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child or young person are the paramount consideration for a reporter or a worker. Consequently, while being aware of cultural sensitivities, the reporter’s focus must remain on ensuring the safety of the child or young person.

If behaviours are occurring that could cause risk of significant harm to a child or young person they should not be minimised or dismissed on cultural grounds.

Cultural practices

Likewise, behaviours or practices culturally unfamiliar to a reporter should not be reported if they do not place the child or young person at risk of significant harm. Consultation with community elders – without revealing identifying information - may be needed to clarify whether unfamiliar practices are culturally acceptable to the Aboriginal community.

Any cultural information that may assist in the assessment of a case should always be included in a report to the Child Protection Helpline.

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Last updated: 10 Oct 2017
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