Over the last 18 months SNAICC has been facilitating consultations with Aboriginal communities and representatives of the community-controlled service sector in Central Australia. A local steering committee was convened with a focus on consultations to inform the creation of the Central Australia Aboriginal Community-Controlled Out-of-home Care Strategy (the Strategy), including meetings with leaders of community-controlled services, Aboriginal Elders, and community representatives across Central Australia.
The outcomes of the extensive consultation highlight the need for a stronger voice for Aboriginal children, families and communities in child protection decision-making with a greater focus on early intervention so that Aboriginal children grow up safe and connected to family, community, culture and Country. It also indicates a need for genuine commitment for child and family services to be transferred to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
On 26 February 2019, the Central Australia Aboriginal Community-Controlled Out-of-home Care Steering Committee and SNAICC – National Voice for our Children brought together leaders from communities and service providers in Alice Springs at a forum to discuss next steps in implementation of the Strategy.
Guided by a shared goal to ensure that Aboriginal children and young people are safe and have the opportunity to thrive, the outcomes from the forum demonstrate shared support among participant organisations for the Strategy, with a strong and united call from community-controlled organisations in Central Australia for the Northern Territory Government to respond and detail how it will support and resource the Strategy’s implementation.
A total of 34 people from 12 organisations attended the forum, including representatives from: Akeyulerre, Central Australia Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), Central Australia Aboriginal Family Legal Unit (CAAFLU), Children’s Ground, Larrakia Nation, Northern Territory Council of Social Services (NTCOSS), Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), Tangentyere Council, Territory Families, Strong Grandmothers Group from the Central Desert Region, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), and SNAICC.
Based on the outcomes of the forum and the priorities that were identified by participants, the Steering Committee requests the following:
- That the Northern Territory Government provides a formal response to the Central Australia Aboriginal Community-Controlled Out-of-home Care Strategy.
- That the Northern Territory Government commits resources for the implementation of the Strategy and communicates the details of this commitment to the Aboriginal community-controlled sector in Central Australia.
- That, in partnership with the Steering Committee, Territory Families scopes the locations for Aboriginal Community-Controlled Child Safety Hubs, develops initial program guidelines for their operation, and a commissioning plan and timeline for their establishment. The Steering Committee notes that this should include a commitment for progressing a hub that services NPY lands and will require further consideration of interstate protocols for meeting the needs of children and families in the cross border region.
- Building on the existing leadership of the Steering Committee, establish an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation-led executive group to input to and oversee the initial stages of implementation for the Strategy. The executive group should have responsibility for developing and progressing an establishment plan for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled children and families peak for Central Australia. The Steering Committee notes that the executive group should include representation from the Barkly Region.
- Establish a model of Aboriginal Family-led Decision-Making in partnership with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and commence pilot delivery.
- Establish a dedicated Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Commissioner in the Northern Territory, on equal footing with the NT Children’s Commissioner.
Read the Steering Committee’s communiqué and the Central Australia Aboriginal Community-Controlled Out-of-home Care Strategy 2019-2023 (the Strategy) executive summary