Thursday 20 August 2015
In October 2014 Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations who deliver child and family services, Community Service Organisations, the Koorie Youth Council and the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People prepared a submission with a roadmap to future approaches for improving the over representation of our children in out of home care.
The submission, Koorie kids: Growing strong in their Culture ca lled for government to consider eight priorities the first of which was to establish an Aboriginal Children’s Forum which would be a decision making partnership between community, government and the sector. This was significant because it brought together Koorie and non-Koorie sectors for the common purpose of improving the life outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children – to prevent them from entering statutory care, for those already in care and for those leaving care.
The Minister for Families and Children announced in June that she would chair a regular Aboriginal Children’s Forum that will shape policies and practices to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in out of home care. In her release the Minister said that the ‘Forum reflects the Labor Government’ s belief that Aboriginal communities best know the challenges they face and how to provide effective prevention and early intervention.’ The quarterly forums would be co-chaired by the Minister and CEO of the local Aboriginal organisation where it is held. This is the power of good people working together.
This process commenced on 13 and 14 August with a Summit, co-chaired by Minister Mikakos and Prof Muriel Bamblett CEO of Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency to establish the terms of reference and clear way forward for the Forum.
There were nine agreed priorities including the eight from the Koorie Kids submission.
The Forum will work toward the development of a comprehensive outcomes framework; building the life skills and cultural identity of children in care for successful transitions to adulthood; place all Aboriginal children in care under the authority and case management of an Aboriginal organisation; create better supports for carers of Aboriginal children and for Aboriginal families to have access to accountable universal services that support their needs.
This process is a significant point of change in the way that we work in Victoria for our most vulnerable Koorie children. It is about self-determination and it shows us that when Koorie and non-Koorie organisations get together, and when government come to the table that change can happen for our children. When each part of the system steps up and takes responsibility and works together in making key decisions that is when less of our children will be lost in a system and lost to their culture and community.