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The Aboriginal Case Management Rules and Practice Guidance: Strengthening Aboriginal families, delivering outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people comprises three interconnected segments spanning the continuum of support, including universal services, family preservation, restoration, out of home care (OOHC) and after care. These rules and practice guidance outline to practitioners the expectations, roles and responsibilities, and operating functions that are aligned to the three key segments:

  1. Aboriginal Community Response
  2. Aboriginal Family Strengthening
  3. Aboriginal Child Safety.

Service intervention spectrum

Identification of Aboriginal Children and Families

The Aboriginal Case Management Policy, and Rules and Practice Guidance applies to all Aboriginal children and young people and their families. As such, appropriate application of the Aboriginal Case Management Policy and Rules and Practice Guidance requires robust processes to identify Aboriginal children and families as early as possible in their engagement in the continuum of support, allowing the relevant safeguards to be applied.

It is inappropriate to identify a family as not Aboriginal as a default position. Rather, caseworkers actively seek to identify the cultural background of all families. It is not unusual for Aboriginal families to be reluctant to self-identify to statutory child protection systems, given justified mistrust of these systems and their treatment of Aboriginal peoples (see the Apology to the Aboriginal people of NSW). Caseworkers are encouraged to take a curious stance to proactively identify every family’s cultural background, engaging them in a robust, iterative process to unpack each family’s unique history and heritage.

Aboriginal Participation in Decision-Making

Aboriginal communities have a collective interest in the safety, welfare and wellbeing of their children and young people. This is reflected in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 through sections 11 and 12. Section 12 explicitly acknowledges the requirement that Aboriginal children, families, and extended families are given the opportunity, by DCJ, to be involved in decision making that impacts on their children. This includes Aboriginal communities and representative organisations.

DCJ proactively supports the participation of other persons or agencies in decision making, when consent is provided (section 254(1) (a) of the Care Act), or in connection with the administration of the Care Act (section 254(1) (b), including Section 12 of the Act (as described above). This includes:

  • determining whether a child or young person is at risk of significant harm
  • assessing whether or not a child is Aboriginal
  • assessing suitable family placement options for a child in line with the Aboriginal Placement Principles
  • for another reason in connection with the administration or execution of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (section 254).

The participation of Aboriginal families, extended families, communities and representative organisations is important to making informed decisions in the best interests of Aboriginal children and young people, and reflects the interests of Aboriginal families and communities in the safety, welfare and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.

These Rules and Practice Guidance operationalise the participation of Aboriginal children, families, kin and communities (through appropriate representative mechanisms) consistent with the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. DCJ and Service Providers will:

  • ensure the views of Aboriginal children and young people, family and extended family, as well as community and representative organisations are sought and documented
  • acknowledge the interest of Aboriginal families and communities in the safety, welfare and wellbeing of their children, and genuinely engage with families and their communities in all decisions and interventions affecting Aboriginal children
  • support family and community participation in decision making through Aboriginal Family-led Decision Making processes, and other similar approaches
  • respect local Aboriginal community controlled decision making structures to enable Aboriginal families and communities to participate in decision making concerning the safety, well-being and care of their children.
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Last updated: 10 Dec 2020