NFPs Urged to Adopt New Strategies for Aboriginal Child Welfare
6 August 2015 at 12:07 pm
A landmark report into the lives and welfare of young Aboriginal children in Western Australia has urged community organisations to develop new and innovative approaches to help improve their future wellbeing.
The report by the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People called Listen To Us, calls for practical changes to the way agencies support Aboriginal children and young people’s healthy development and wellbeing.
“This report is an important resource and will enable agencies to improve policies and service delivery based on the valuable knowledge and insights of Aboriginal children and young people about what impacts their lives,” the acting Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jenni Perkins, said.
“The Aboriginal children and young people who took part in this consultation provided important insight into the factors that influence their lives, including their views on family and community, education, culture, recreation and sport, and racism and reconciliation.”
Perkins said a clear message from Aboriginal children and young people was the importance of strong connections with family and culture, and the value of education and appropriate support as a way of achieving long-term goals.
“Some also spoke candidly about health and safety concerns they have for their family members, friends and themselves, which matches what we know about the significant and ongoing disadvantage too many Aboriginal children and young people experience,” she said.
“For their wellbeing to be improved, the views and insights of Aboriginal children and young people must be carefully considered and utilised by community organisations and all levels of government.
“However, this report must just be the start of a commitment by all agencies to recognise that Aboriginal children and young people’s wellbeing is their core business, and to working closely with children and young people and communities to establish new and innovative approaches.”
The Commission said it consulted 1,271 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people across WA to give them a voice on what is important to them, what they hope to do in the future and what help they need to get there.
“This is the largest single consultation to be completed by the Commissioner’s office, and arguably the biggest consultation ever undertaken with Aboriginal children and young people in WA,” Perkins said.
The report offers four key considerations for community organisations working with young Aboriginal people:
-Improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people, and their families, must be seen as core business for all agencies as there is an imperative to achieve truly integrated planning, funding and delivery of programs and services. This requires genuine partnerships between all levels of government, the community and private sectors.
-Programs and services need to be flexible, understand and respect the diversity of Aboriginal children and young people and their communities, their language, their culture and their histories, and be able to respond to their unique circumstances, needs, strengths and capacities. This requires approaches that are local, cooperative and, ultimately, community-led and controlled.
-Programs and services must recognise the importance of, and build on the strengths of, Aboriginal family and kinship.
-Services and programs to support the safety and wellbeing of children and young people must be evidence-based and outcomes focused. This does not mean compromising the capacity to be innovative and try new approaches, but rather a commitment from service funders and providers to measure, evaluate and define meaningful and sustainable outcomes, to relinquish what does not work, and focus on what does.
The report said that multiple strategies are needed across agencies to support engagement and participation in education, which include strong partnerships between schools, families and communities, and work to better identify and remove the barriers to school engagement.
“Fundamentally, programs and services need to be underpinned by an ongoing commitment to listening and responding to the views of Aboriginal children and young people,” the report said.