This report, released by Monash University’s Department of Social Work, presents the findings of a 14 month exploratory study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth in Victoria who have left the out-of-home care system.
The report, based on a series of focus group consultations with service providers, and in-depth interviews with a small sample of Aboriginal care-leavers, identified numerous systemic matters impacting on care leavers.
These included issues identifying Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status, complex relationships between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous run services, identified inadequate referral pathways to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), and insufficient resourcing for Aboriginal programs and support services, including insufficient funding for Cultural Support to children in care.
The main strength identified in current leaving-care and post-care systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was the availability of ACCOs, which provide tailored services for Aboriginal young people.
Dedicated workers, increasing cultural awareness and sensitivity, strong endorsement of Cultural Support plans and the role played by the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young people were also identified as strengths.
The findings from the project’s focus group consultations identified a need for increased attention to the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous child and family welfare services and systems.
The report’s findings open the potential for action research into how leaving care and post-care services and programs could potentially be modified to better suit the needs of Indigenous care leavers, particularly in being able to better promote connectedness and belonging to community and culture.