Keeping families united: pilot program tender awarded to Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making co-chair Will Hayward, Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk and Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation manager Chloe Collard.
Camera IconAboriginal Family Led Decision Making co-chair Will Hayward, Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk and Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation manager Chloe Collard. Credit: Picture: Michael Roberts

Not-for-profit youth organisation Geraldton Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation has been appointed to implement a pilot program that aims to keep more Aboriginal children out of foster care.

The scheme, Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making, involves independent Aboriginal convenors working with Aboriginal families to resolve issues like domestic violence and substance abuse, which keep them from seeing their children.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making co-chair Will Hayward hailed the ground-breaking program as a “monumental moment” for Aboriginal child protection in WA.

“It is a real opportunity to resolve some fundamental issues that hinder our families from being successful in resolving child protection concerns,” Mr Hayward said.

“Our whole community will wrap around those families for a pathway to success.

“Things haven’t been working successfully.”

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show Aboriginal and Torres Islander children are 11 times more likely to end up in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making co-chair Will Hayward speaks to media at Bundiyarra on Thursday.
Camera IconAboriginal Family Led Decision Making co-chair Will Hayward speaks to media at Bundiyarra on Thursday.

In Geraldton yesterday, Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said 57 per cent of the kids in child protection in WA are Aboriginal.

“We’ve found in other States that this family-led model of decision making, we’ve got a much better chance of getting children reunified with their parents,” Ms McGurk said.

“Last financial year was the first time since 1997 we’ve seen a reduction in the number of children in care in Western Australia, but there is a lot more work to do.”

GSAC, otherwise known as Streeties, was awarded the contract for the program following an open tender process, with a 12-month trial starting today.

Streeties manager Chloe Collard said programs designed and delivered for Aboriginal people without their consultation didn’t work effectively.

“This pilot provides the opportunity for change and better outcomes for our people,” she said.

“At the heart of this work we are conscious of far too many instances when families are left feeling disempowered and unheard with devastating consequences.

“Our hope it is just the first step in transforming the way all aspects of government do business and deliver social services to our people.”

The State Government is spending $715,000 on the scheme.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails