Strengthening our families through an Aboriginal case management policy
After an extensive consultation and development process, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has endorsed an Aboriginal Case Management Policy, providing a tailored approach for how the child protection system works with our children and families.
The policy was endorsed in October 2018, with supporting materials and an implementation plan due to be delivered in 2019. We continue to work alongside FACS to ensure that these documents are informed by the needs and views of Aboriginal families and communities.
Developing the policy in partnership with communities
In 2017 FACS asked AbSec, as the NSW peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families, to lead the development of a new resource: the Aboriginal Case Management Policy and accompanying Rules and Practice Guidance handbook.
Our aim was to create a holistic and culturally responsive policy, embedding the values and perspectives of Aboriginal people. It was important that the policy embrace values of transparency and accountability, including oversight through Aboriginal community-controlled mechanisms. These were our goals:
- Respond to the specific needs of Aboriginal families and children across the continuum of child protection care, from early intervention and prevention, through to out-of-home care and after-care;
- Address all stages of case management (cultural and case planning, implementation, monitoring and review) used in the support of Aboriginal families and children – whether they are being looked after by an Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal service provider;
- Ensure that support services meet the needs and expectations of Aboriginal children, families and communities; and
- Identify what changes will be needed to put this policy into action
We undertook a comprehensive stakeholder consultation and community engagement process between June and August 2017, holding discussions with hundreds of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stakeholders across the sector.
Overview of the state-wide consultations
- 2 x 2-day intensive workshops with Aboriginal service providers:
5–6 June 2017
30–31 August 2017
- 11 x state-wide consultations with Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal service providers and non-Aboriginal service providers, FACS and other key stakeholders (June to August)
- 3 x targeted workshops consisting of Aboriginal practitioners, government and non-government peak body representatives:
16 August 2017
18 August 2017
22 August 2017
- 304 x community conversations, consisting of 233 face-to-face discussions and 49 online survey responses
Key themes that emerged during the workshops, including your views and key messages, can be found in our workshop report.
We have prepared an overview of the key themes arising from our stakeholder consultations – please read What you Told Us – Aboriginal Case Management Policy Consultations.
A further summary of the key themes emerging from our survey is available here.
The following five themes emerged through these discussions, with most of the participants believing they are important to keep in mind when working with Aboriginal children, young people, their families and communities:
- (1) The Aboriginal Case Management Policy must empower Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities
- (2) An effective Aboriginal Case Management Policy supports families to access a range of holistic services in one place
- (3) The policy must focus on culturally competent practice, working with Aboriginal families and communities in culturally embedded ways
- (4) Services must be tailored, flexible and holistic to meet the individual needs and strengths of Aboriginal children, families and communities
- (5) Services must be ultimately accountable to Aboriginal children and young people
Respondents identified the following seven key principles:
- (1) Child-focused approach to safety and wellbeing
- (2) Family-led decision making
- (3) Community involvement, including self-determination and advocacy
- (4) Culturally embedded
- (5) Holistic services tailored to the needs of Aboriginal children and families
- (6) Oriented to prevent harm and preserve families
- (7) Accountable to Aboriginal peoples for the outcomes achieved for Aboriginal children and their families
The Aboriginal Case Management Policy has now been endorsed by FACS and can be found on its website. The Rules and Practice Guidance resource as well as the implementation plan are currently being finalised. Thank you to all those who have participated in the consultations and development of this important work – we look forward to sharing further updates with you as this project continues.