The Department of Child Safety, Far North Queensland (FNQ) has commenced a project to reconnect Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care with their maternal and paternal families, communities of origin and cultures.
‘Reconnection: Relationships with Family, Community & Culture’ commenced in late 2016 and focuses on the cohort of children who, due to historical Child Safety practices within the FNQ region, are most vulnerable to being disconnected from their families and communities, and who do not have healthy and meaningful relationships with their families and communities of origin. Reconnecting these children and young people with their family, community of origin and culture will support them to foster their identity and emotional, cultural and spiritual needs. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out of home care, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families involved in the child protection system and carers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people are included in the target group for the initiative.
Supporting these Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people to develop strong, healthy relationships with family, community and cultures is a key aim of the project. These aims are strengthened through collaboration between Child Safety Service Centre (CSSC) staff and non-government service providers when identifying extended family who are able to support each child to achieve a sense of identity and belonging.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in CSSCs, Recognised Entities and Wuchopperen Health Service’s Culturally Appropriate Foster and Kinship Service are involved in the project, capitalising on their unique skills and local knowledge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Safety Support Officers in each CSSC lead the ‘Reconnection’ work and assist Child Safety Officers to identify and support children and young people who are part of the initiative.
The project seeks to achieve true cultural identification of children and young people (Language/Clan/Tribal Group), potential community of origin placements, completion of meaningful Cultural Support Plans, respecting children and young people’s views and wishes to facilitate their healing journey, developing and nurturing relationships with significant family/community members, and engagement and true partnerships with community organisations/members.
Embedding culturally responsive Child Safety practice across the service delivery continuum in the FNQ region, including modelling to other sector partners across the service system is a strategic goal of ‘Reconnect’.
Kowanyama family reconnected
Photo courtesy of Ray Lennox and Stuart Barty (CSSOs Cape South CSSC)
Acknowledgement – FNQ Child Safety Service Area Leadership Team and FNQ Child Safety Child and Family Cultural Advice Team
QATSICPP would like to acknowledge Joanne Borg from The Department of Child Safety, Far North Queensland who leads the implementation of this project.