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NSW Government formal response

On 7 July 2020, the NSW Government provided a formal response to the Family is Culture, Independent Review of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC).

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.

It also shows our appreciation to the Independent Review Team, in particular Professor Megan Davis, for their expertise, time and care in completing the review.

Background on the review

In September 2016, the NSW Government commissioned an independent review into the disproportionate and increasing number of Aboriginal children and young people in OOHC in NSW.

The Independent review team examined the experiences of 1,144 Aboriginal children and young people who entered OOHC during 2015-16.

The Family is Culture Review Report speaks to the experiences of those children and young people, their families and their communities, as they navigated the NSW child protection system.

The review made 125 recommendations to the way we deliver services and over 3,000 recommendations referring to specific children and young people.

Our progress in responding to the review

We are working in partnership with Aboriginal communities to address the recommendations outlined in the Family is Culture review.

We have developed the Family is Culture response progress report to demonstrate how we are responding to the 125 systemic recommendations made in the review.

Our response to these recommendations focuses on the following themes:

  1. Stronger oversight and accountability
  2. Improving data collection and reporting
  3. Better casework policy and practice
  4. Enhanced services and supports
  5. Changing care and protection legislation

An accessible text version of the progress report  is available.

How we’re improving outcomes

We have taken a number of important steps to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people:

  • We have appointed Richard Weston to the newly created position of Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People. Richard’s role sits within the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) to elevate the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in care.
  • We have established an Aboriginal Knowledge Circle with five independent Aboriginal representatives to provide advice to Minister Ward. This group will work with DCJ and the Aboriginal community to ensure Aboriginal-led advice is at the heart of our response.
  • We have established a DCJ Aboriginal Outcomes Taskforce to drive improvements in services and supports for Aboriginal families, data collection and reporting, casework policy and practice, and interagency coordination.
  • We are working to implement the key enablers and principles of the Aboriginal Case Management Policy. The policy provides guidance for caseworkers on using Aboriginal community-controlled mechanisms to improve the processes that we follow to work with Aboriginal families, as well as supporting Aboriginal families and communities to make family-led decisions about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children. 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.
  • We have redesigned Internal Caseworker Development Program. This was launched on 20 July 2020. The program is a mandatory, blended learning and capability based program for all new caseworkers who join DCJ.

    Absec, Stolen Generations Organisations and GMARS NSW all consulted on, and contributed to the redesigned content, including the ‘Working with Aboriginal Families’ workshop. All curriculum now reflects contemporary practice approaches and the NSW Practice Framework, including the principle that ‘culture is ever present’.
  • We’re providing evidence-based therapeutic family preservation programs to help keep families together. In 2019-20 family preservation programs provided almost 5,000 contracted places for families, which delivered services to more than 20,000 children – over a third of whom were Aboriginal children. Of these:
    • Two Aboriginal specific services, Intensive Family Based Services and Nabu are supporting over 460 Aboriginal children.
    • 55% of Permanency Support Program (PSP) Family Preservation packages are provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (200 packages) or Aboriginal partnerships (9 packages) a total of 209 of 380 packages.
  • 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 Aboriginal lead 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.

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Last updated: 25 Nov 2020