Philanthropy Gets Behind Connecting Aboriginal Children With Extended Families
19 July 2017 at 5:19 pm
Leading Victorian childcare agencies have secured philanthropic support to complete a pilot program designed to connect Aboriginal children in out-of-home care with siblings and extended families.
In a joint statement released on Tuesday, Berry Street and VACCA said they were “delighted” to partner with Gandel Philanthropy and Sidney Myer Fund to see the completion of a “promising and exciting” 18 month pilot program.
“Family Finding aims to link children with a close family network that provides lifelong belonging and cultural identity, and greater likelihood of permanent placement in loving homes,” the statement said.
“Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their family, resulting in disconnection from culture, loss of identity and repeating inter-generational trauma.”
The statement said despite Victoria’s child protection law recognising that Aboriginal children were best placed with Aboriginal carers or families, a large majority were placed in non-Indigenous homes.
VACCA CEO Professor Muriel Bamblett said Aboriginal children could stay in multiple placements for extended periods causing them to lose connection to family, community, culture and country.
“Where there is family violence, abuse or neglect of children –at times involving drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or mental illness –there can be a breakdown of extended family relationships and divisions that can lead to parts of the family being cut off from each other,” Bamblett said.
The family and child care agencies said there was an urgent need for a more systematic approach to connecting children with safe and culturally connected families.
They said a pilot program would establish better systems to support the placement of children within their extended family, friends and community, and to reconnect Aboriginal children to their Aboriginal family wherever possible.
“The grant will see the completion of an 18 month pilot program with potential to inform widespread changes to finding existing family for children in care,” they said.
Berry Street CEO Sandie de Wolf said she was encouraged by the leadership demonstrated by the philanthropic funds.
“Family Finding is a promising and exciting pilot program that we hope will help to create a sense of wellbeing and belonging for Aboriginal children and young people currently in the out of home care system,” she said.