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Transforming evidence and practice to promote connection for Aboriginal children,their families and communities Aunt Sue Blacklock, Fiona Arney, Karen.

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Presentation on theme: "Transforming evidence and practice to promote connection for Aboriginal children,their families and communities Aunt Sue Blacklock, Fiona Arney, Karen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transforming evidence and practice to promote connection for Aboriginal children,their families and communities Aunt Sue Blacklock, Fiona Arney, Karen Menzies, Gillian Bonser, Paula Hayden

2 The WINANGAY team Aunty Sue Blacklock Not-for-profit Aboriginal controlled NGO 2 Karen Menzies Gill Bonser Deeply concerned by overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the system and the impact of trauma Passionate and motivated to develop innovative cultural resources for workers Reconciliation in Action Paula Hayden

3 The aim of Australian Centre for Child Protection To bridge the gap between what is known and what is done to transform the lives of children who have experienced, or who are at risk of experiencing, abuse and neglect.



6 World first research Joint interest and expertise –Winangay Resources Inc –Sidney Myer Fund –Australian Centre for Child Protection, UniSA –Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU –Queensland Government – Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services –Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP)


8 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013, p.46)

9 There needs to be a fundamental shift in practice for these children and their families

10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Goal to enhance and preserve the child’s connection to family and community, and sense of identity and culture in all aspects of government intervention with children –Recognise and protect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, family members and communities in child welfare matters. –Increase the level of self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in child welfare matters. –Reduce the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system. Elements of the Principle have been introduced in legislation across all Australian States and Territories to varying extents


12 Is it the policy, or the implementation of the policy that is at issue?



15 National issue National meeting for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children about these issues – May 2013 Key Recommendation Culturally appropriate carer assessments and appropriate financial, professional and emotional supports for carers – inclusion of Aboriginal world view and use of interpreters

16 Winangay

17 Winangay Resources Developed out of a desire on the part of Aboriginal communities to reduce the removal of children from their families and communities. Developed through a collaborative process - the Winangay Project team and an Aboriginal Reference Group including a large number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations. Highly regarded by workers and families, and assessed by experts in the field as covering key areas of carer assessment to promote children’s safety and wellbeing.

18 Aims of the research Assess the effectiveness of the Kinship Assessment Tool Of particular interest is understanding how the Tool is being applied in practice, and how its use may translate into outcomes for carers, children and their families. In particular, does use of the Tool result in more Aboriginal carers being recruited and in more Aboriginal children being placed safely with their families and communities?

19 It will explore in detail… –the outcomes for carers, children, organisations and communities of using the Winangay carer Assessment Tools –the system, community, organisation, practitioner and family factors which help and hinder the faithful implementation of these tools in practice, and –the impact of the resources on the cultural competence of practitioners, and the impact of cultural competence on the use of the tool.

20 What does the research involve? Training and support in Winangay approach –Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners (approximately 70) working in the area of carer assessment for carers of Aboriginal children. Worker perspectives –Before training about current approaches and experience –After the training about the tools –Follow up about the use of tools – how much, how they worked, perceived outcomes, what gets in the way and what helps

21 Carer views –How do they feel about the assessments (Winangay and current) – approx 70 interviews to be conducted Administrative data –the placement of Aboriginal children within family and community, placement stability, improved children’s well-being, are there any further safety concerns) - approx 210-280 cases to be examined

22 Progress to date 5 training events across Queensland 73 participants trained, 70 participants in pre and post test training assessment (Nov 2013-July 2014) – 96% response rate Aged between 23-62 years, 93% female 0-25 years experience assessing foster carers, most 2-5 years’ experience



25 Current tools Strengths –Prompts, pre-determined areas for assessment –Links to standards of care, legislation –Open questioning, honest Limitations –Not suitable for Aboriginal families (communication styles, history, family relationships) –Lack of flexibility Satisfaction – mean score 6.0 out of 10

26 Winangay kinship tools Strengths –Visual aids prompt discussion, simple language –Led by carers – empowering –Natural discussion, yarning, conversational –Specific action plans –Easier to identify strengths and concerns Limitations –Time to conduct assessment in this way –Challenge of using a new tool in existing system Satisfaction – mean score 8.9 out of 10

27 Quotes “fabulous! Brilliant! Amazing! Deadly! Awesome!” (Brisbane) “I feel confident having discussions about challenges now. -thank-you for the opportunity to have discussions about assessments and how these can be done in an empowering manner. -we don't want to catch people out... we do want to catch people in!” (Rockhampton)

28 “It is a tool that is far more respectful” (Cairns) “I think it is fantastic, it is a practice shift for the better” (Brisbane) “a really simple but thorough and respectful assessment process” (Cairns)

29 Findings about implementation Currently conducting 3 month follow up of 45 participants, 13 responded, 6 have moved to different roles Assessments using Winangay –5 completed –7 in progress –5 planned to progress Satisfaction – mean score 7.9 out of 10

30 Feedback T he carers read the report and told me it was “way deadly” and that “this is us, you got it just as we told you”. They really liked the report and the cards but found some questions in yarning sessions a little repetitive and the sessions a little long “I am very impressed about this tool being trialled. I would recommend to continue using such a tool now and into the near future”

31 Emerging Practice: Stronger Ways with Aboriginal children, families and workers Winangay Resources Inc

32 WINANGAY… We have to stop the TEARS and trauma! …Children tears …Community tears We are in the middle of yet another unrecognised stolen generation WINANGAY Resources – Stronger Ways with Aboriginal Children and Families WINANGAY in Gamilaraay means: to know, to think, to love, to understand. 32

33 Winangay Story Led by Aunty Sue Blacklock Tingha - highly disadvantaged Aboriginal community Elders - deeply upset about the number of Aboriginal children being taken into care and disconnected from community. Grassroots approach Called on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people - skilled and experienced in the field Developed on a voluntary basis by passionate team

34 Why we started con’t.......... In Australia, 4.72% of kids 0-17 years are Indigenous yet they are a third 33.6% placed in out-of-home care Significant proportion placed with non Aboriginal carers (30% nationally) Aboriginal kids needs kin and kin need kids – Stop the trauma and the tears! Kinship care works for kids – They have same or better outcomes than in foster care

35 Why we started: Voices …. of workers….. “There isn’t enough being done to develop culturally appropriate tools for assessing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people” (worker from Qld) 35 of kinship carer….. “I’m raising him I’m not caring for him... he’s part of my family” Aboriginal Kinship Carer consulted by L,Breslin Benevolent Society “We need specific kinship care tools” (worker from NSW)

36 Informed by evidence and emerging best practice Collaborative approach between worker and carer Power and decision making is shared Acknowledge families as expert Trauma informed practice Culturally appropriate tools Family Group Conferencing

37 Trauma: Trauma and Aboriginal People what workers need to know

38 Introduction to trauma On all measures Aboriginal Australians remain disadvantaged. The legacy of past child welfare contributes to the gross overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection and out-of-home care system. (AIHW, 2011; Juvenile Justice in Australia 2009-10; Tilbury, 2009)

39 Background The impact of past child welfare laws, policies and practices has resulted in intergenerational trauma Atkinson (2013) states, the experience of forcible separation and assimilation, experienced by members of the Stolen Generations, is a ‘significant cause of trauma.’

40 Trauma Informed Care is… Understanding Trauma and its impact Promoting Safety Supporting Client to have Control / Choice / Autonomy Sharing Power and Governance Integrating Care Healing Happens in Relationships Recovery is Possible

41 Trauma Informed Care Principles Winangay approach aims to: Avoid further traumatisation Be inclusiveness of Aboriginal perspective Be Strengths based, (removes blame/shame) Help manage trauma related behaviours Restore choice, autonomy and control Promote community and self wellness Seek collaboration, not compliance

42 What we need to know Trauma informed care requires child protection practitioners and other service providers to understand the neurological (brain) and the physiological (body) relationship to experiences of trauma

43 Why we must understand trauma Understanding definitions of individual, collective, intergenerational trauma, and trauma theories and models of practice, holds a key for all human and community service practitioners to enhance effective client worker engagement and improve outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities. (Menzies and McNamara, 2009)

44 The Resources: Seeking Stronger Ways with Aboriginal Children, Families & Workers

45 Winangay development & validation Guided by Elders from across Australia, input: from workers, Aboriginal kids, carers as well as Aboriginal reference group Shaped by research - national and international (Professor Marianne Berry the Australian Centre for Child Protection and Dr Marilyn McHugh)

46 Winangay SCOPE Model: S =Strengths acknowledged C = Concerns and unmet needs identified O =Options and opportunities to address needs mobilise resources, provide services P =Power sharing, participatory respectful processes E = Enabling capacity, empowerment and equality

47 Applying the SCOPE model: Plain English (Tingha test: ‘No jawbreakers’) Respect (for individuals, rights, culture, history, traditions and rights) Relationship (genuine, transparent and accountable) Building Strengths and Capacity Listen to family as experts (while reflecting reality) Understand the impact of intergenerational trauma on Aboriginal communities and individuals Shared power - Empowerment and partnerships Applying trauma informed practices (eg providing ‘choice’ and ‘control’)

48 3 Steps for Workers 1.Relationships 2.Hearing the Stories to build understanding 3.Journey together (Strengths and Concerns)

49 Yarning Up… 4 collaborative conversations about : –Environment and meeting Needs, –Staying strong as a carer, –KiDs Wellbeing, –Safety and working well with others

50 Visual Cards Bus Stop Can you get where you need to go? School Lunches Bush food Breakfast Is there healthy food at each meal? Holidays Hobbie s Time out Looking after you, recharging and staying strong Heading in the same direction Honest and Trustworthy Resolving Conflicts Are the kids carefully supervised? After? How are they going at school? Finishing Going to school Homework Cultural identity NAIDOC Beading class

51 Tingha Talk “No Jawbreakers!”

52 7 cards that allow you to rate strengths and concerns Rating Cards and Action Plans This is deadly, it is a significant strength! Things are just OK or adequate. This a little or mild concern! Joint Action Plans Optional Graph

53 Research Project Tools rolling out in Queensland – Carmody Report Ground breaking Winangay Research to build evidence base what works with Aboriginal children and families (funded by the Sidney Myer foundation Research project partnership with Winangay Resources (Aunty Sue Blacklock); Australian Centre for Child Protection (Professor Fiona Arney) Research by Uni of South Aust and Aust Catholic Uni

54 Expanded Applications Family Support eg Condobolin Carer Training SEWB (social emotional wellbeing) cards Disability cards Non Aboriginal versions – strong uptake especially in CALD contexts

55 Information & Contact Winangay Resources mob: 0421 912 757

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