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NSW Response to the Family is Culture Review

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward has released the NSW response to the Family is Culture, Independent Review of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC).

The independent review was commissioned in September 2016 examining the disproportionate and increasing number of Aboriginal children and young people in OOHC in NSW.

The NSW Government has carefully considered the recommendations made in the Report.

The response makes a clear commitment to building a child protection system that is more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal children, families and communities.

We thank the Independent Review Team, in particular Professor Megan Davis, for their expertise, time and care in completing the review.

Changes we will be making

We will be welcoming a Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People within the Office of the Children’s Guardian. The Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian will elevate the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.

We will also establish an Aboriginal Knowledge Circle to provide independent advice to Minister Ward. This group will comprise of five independent and expert Aboriginal members who will work with DCJ and the Aboriginal community to ensure Aboriginal-led advice is at the heart of our response.

We will be establishing an Aboriginal Outcomes Taskforce to drive improvements in services and supports for Aboriginal families, data collection and reporting, casework policy and practice, and interagency coordination.

Changes we have already made

Since the Review, DCJ has made changes to the way we work to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people:

  • We continue to implement the Aboriginal Case Management Policy. It provides guidance for caseworkers on using Aboriginal community-controlled mechanisms, Aboriginal family-led decision-making and working with Aboriginal advocates and facilitators. The policy also provides specialised guidance on achieving safety, stability and cultural continuity for Aboriginal children and young people. The Aboriginal Case Management Policy was developed by AbSec, in partnership with DCJ, and in consultation with local Aboriginal communities.
  • DCJ is redesigning our Internal Caseworker Development Program, with a focus on updating modules in line with contemporary practice frameworks. This includes a workshop on 'Working with Aboriginal families', which is being developed in partnership with AbSec.
  • We’re providing evidence-based therapies to help keep families together. The NSW Government has committed to provide 900 places per year for intensive family preservation and restoration services. These include Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare.
  • We’re supporting Aboriginal-led, evidence-based programs that are embedded in local communities. This includes initiatives such as ID Know Yourself and the Nabu Demonstration Project, which provide mentoring and intensive support to Aboriginal children, young people and families.
  • We’re funding Aboriginal Child and Family Centres to provide quality wrap-around services for Aboriginal children, families and communities. There are currently nine centres across NSW.

These are all significant steps that respond to Professor Megan Davis’ recommendations. These initiatives are already showing promising results.

Going forward, this reform will be led by our Aboriginal Outcomes Taskforce.  For further details contact

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Last updated: 10 Jul 2020