Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making: Mid West-Gascoyne to trial new scheme in bid to keep families together
The Mid-West-Gascoyne region has been chosen to pilot a new scheme to help Aboriginal families look after children who would otherwise be taken away for their welfare.
WA Child Protection statistics show Aboriginal children make up about 57 per cent of all children in foster care, despite the fact that only one in 25 Western Australians is Aboriginal.
However Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said she was keen to introduce a new model called Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making, which has been successful in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Her Department has been working with a group of WA Aboriginal leaders to implement the program.
AFLDM co-chair Will Hayward said they were hoping to test a robust service model which was culturally safe and secure with strong evaluation to inform a better system.
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Over a two-year period he said this would hopefully reflect Aboriginal children and young people’s needs.
“Most importantly the families they belong to can access the right services at the right time,” he said.
“This model is based on best practice principles of Aboriginal family-led decision making, self-determination and culturally safe spaces.”
Mr Hayward said this would allow discussions to take place to address child protection concerns and create family restoration.
Ms McGurk said independent Aboriginal convenors would facilitate a culturally safe process to support Aboriginal families to make decisions on how to keep their children safe and connected to their community.
She said the trial would work with three cohorts.
The first was Aboriginal families engaged in pre-birth planning, with the goal of preventing infants from coming into care.
Secondly, they would work with Aboriginal families engaged in intensive family support, with the goal of preventing children from coming into care.
Ms McGurk said it would also cater for families where one or more of the children in the family group were in care, with the aim of working towards reunification — safely returning them to family.
She said her Government had invested $715,000 to establish the two-year AFLDM pilot in the Mid West-Gascoyne, and another location yet to be announced.
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