The Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS) funded a trial of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making (ATSIFLDM) from April 2016 to August 2017. Final report details are soon to be released from implementation partner, SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, and independent evaluation partners Winangali Pty Ltd and Ipsos Australia.
The trials sought to empower families and communities to lead decision making in regard to their children and to keep children connected to family, community and culture. Four service providers across Queensland trialled ATSIFLDM for families at risk of entering, or already involved in, the statutory child protection system.
Services involved included Kummara Inc. Family Support Service in Ipswich, Aboriginal and Islander Development and Recreational Women’s Association (AIDRWA) in Mt Isa, Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd. in Cairns and Port Kennedy Association in the Torres Strait.
During the trials, 88 families were supported at three different stages along the child protection continuum. This included early intervention, investigation and assessment, and families on child protection orders.
The Queensland Government has committed to invest in family led decision making for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through the Changing Tracks Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2019.
Future statewide roll out of ATSIFLDM is supported by recent amendments to the Queensland Child Protection Act that require independent Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander entities to facilitate family participation in decision making.
On a national level, the Family Matters campaign advocates for ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations participate in and have control over decisions that affect their children, which ATSIFLDM provides a vehicle to achieve.
Through legislative amendments, state and national initiatives such as Changing Tracks and Family Matters, change can be achieved to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia’s child protection systems and to instead see children and young people grow up safe and healthy at home, on country, in community, with family and proud of who they are.