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Assessment Issues faced by Child Protection Investigation Officers working with families from Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Communities: An Australian.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessment Issues faced by Child Protection Investigation Officers working with families from Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Communities: An Australian."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessment Issues faced by Child Protection Investigation Officers working with families from Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Communities: An Australian Exploratory Study By Ms Jatinder Kaur M. Soc, B.A. (Psy)

2 Introduction Australia’s population is increasingly becoming more diverse, whereby the ABS reported in 2001:  17% (603, 800) of Queensland's population was born overseas;  7.4% (261, 297) were born in a Non-English Speaking Country.  In South East Qld there is high proportion of CALD communities whereby the highest proportion of overseas born residents resided:  Logan (24.9%), Brisbane (22.7%) and Gold Coast (24.5%).

3 Increase in Number of Child Protection Notifications The number of child protection notifications has doubled over the last six years in Australia:  107, 134 notifications in 1999-2000;  252, 831 notification in 2004-05 (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2006) However this report does not reflect the number of children from CALD background who entered the child protection system across Australia.

4 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD): is commonly used to describe people who have a cultural heritage different from that of the majority of people from the dominant Anglo-Australian culture (Department of Child Safety Practice Paper-Working with CALD families, 2006) ‘Culture’ is defined as: “an integrated pattern of human behaviour that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious or social group” (Cross, Bazron, Dennis & Isaacs, 1989)

5 Linguistic Diversity Australia is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world where some 200 languages are spoken. Inevitably Professionals working in child protection authorities will come into contact with families from CALD backgrounds. The co-existence of multiple languages has been commonly cited as language barriers to communication with CALD families (Harrison, 2006). Communicating with immigrant and refugee families is difficult as those individuals display; mistrust of authority, fear of exposure, past experiences of oppression as barriers to access services (Segal & Maydas, 2005).

6 Use of Interpreters Not all CALD families would require an interpreter, the practitioner would need to determine the level of English comprehension and understanding of the CALD family. The failure to recognise the importance of language identity was highlighted in the Victoria Climbie Inquiry in the U.K. whereby this failure was found to compromise a child’s ability to disclose and led to her subsequent death. Lord Laming (2003) recommended that where a Child’s first language is not English they must have access to an interpreter when there are child welfare concerns. Chand (2005) argued that it is vital for interpreters to be appropriately trained in the concepts associated with child maltreatment and neglect when used by child protection authorities.

7 Assessment Framework encompassing Culture Interpreting differing standards of child rearing practices for CALD communities that are from diverse racial, ethnic and religious background is complex and difficult (Koromoa, Lynch & Kinnair, 2002). The practitioner has to distinguish between whether abuse meets the definition of child abuse or whether to attribute it to unfamiliar child rearing practices for that family. There is a need to ensure that assessments allow for cultural, social, political and economic factors when determining child abuse has occurred or not. And to ensure that there is not an imbalance of CALD families to Anglo families in the child Protection system (Fontes, 2005; Cohen, 2003).

8 Implications of Binarism for child protection practice with CALD families There is debate in the literature where there is tendency to use contradictory approaches when intervening with CALD families. Both of these approaches are discussed: 1.The Heavy Handed Approach with CALD families:  CALD families being subjected to ethnocentric bias;  Oppressive statutory interventions;  Over representation of CALD families in Care;  E.G. In USA there is over representation of African American, Native American and Latin American children in comparison to percentage of population (US Dept of Health & Human Services, 2002)

9 Implications of Binarism for child protection practice with CALD families 2. The Reluctance to Intervene with CALD families: Research from the UK has shown that:  Workers frequently pathologising and stereotyping CALD families;  Workers over relying on cultural explanations for abuse & neglect;  Failure to accommodate the diversity within ethnic minorities

10 Child Protection In Queensland In Queensland the rate of children aged 0-16 years who were subject of child protection substantiation in 2004-05 was 14.1 per 1,000 investigated cases (AIHW, 2006) Following two separate inquiries Forde Inquiry (1999) and CMC Inquiry (2003), the Queensland Government brought in new legislation Child Protection Act, 1999 and new Department of Child Safety. The Department of Child Safety has implemented all 110 CMC recommendations as part of the reform of the Queensland Child Protection System. The Department is now proceeding in new phase of development of the CP system in Queensland.

11 Cultural Provision in CPA 1999 In developing the Child Protection Act, 1999, a number of provisions relating to culture were included: Section 5 (e) (i) states: Actions taken while in the best interests of the child, maintain family relationships and are supportive of individual rights and ethnic, religious and cultural identity or values. If the child is removed from child’s family, Section 5 (g) (11) states: The child’s need to maintain family and social contacts and ethnic and cultural identity must be taken into account.

12 Cultural Competency in Child Protection Cross cultural competence infers that an individual or an organization is able to work effectively with people from CALD backgrounds (Department of Child Safety Practice Paper-Working with CALD Clients, 2006). Cultural competence also has a political and activist component in promoting empowerment and inclusion of culturally diverse professionals in decision-making positions (Korbin, 2002).

13 Aims of the Study  Explore Assessment Issues faced by CSO’s when working with CALD families  Explore the level of knowledge, training & experience of CSO’s  Explore the level of cultural competence of CSO’s  Use of Interpreters  Structural barriers faced by CSO’s in ensuring cultural sensitive practice with CALD families

14 Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS) 2007 Currently there was no instrument in the research literature which assessed cross cultural competency in the child protection context. The author designed and developed the Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS) 2007 The CCCPS incorporated McPhatter (1997) Cultural Competence Attainment Model. This model incorporates the following areas of: Self Awareness; Acquiring Knowledge Developing Cross-Cultural Skills, as essential skills in developing cultural competence and culturally effectiveness when working with CALD families.

15 Participants The CCCPS was administered to Child Safety Officers (CSO) and Team Leaders (TL) who worked in the investigation and assessment teams (IA) and a total of (N=66) completed the survey. Data collection occurred in November and December in 2006. A non-random purposive sample was chosen to pilot the Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS). The investigation and assessments role was selected as it is the first point of contact families have with child protection authorities

16 The number of respondents per Child Safety Service Centers. Name of CSSC Number of Respondents (N) Inala 13 Loganlea 5 Logan Central 5 Woodridge5 Brisbane Logan West Zonal IA Backlog team 6 Browns Plains & Beaudesert13 Goodna 6 Ipswich North & South 11 Stones Corner3

17 Population Demographics (N=66) Gender (N) Age(N) Male12 21-25 years26 Female54 26-30 years14 31-40years15 41-49 years5 (N=6 missing data, no response) Experience in working in Child Protection (N)% Less than 12 months2335% 12 month or more4365%

18 Cultural Background of Respondents


20 Results-Statistical significance A Chi-square test revealed statistical significance between the number of CSO who had completed CSO training and their length of experience with the Department CSO who had less than 12 months experience (n=23) and those with more than 12 months experience (n=24), x2 (1) =10.64, p<0.001. An alpha level of 0.01 was used for this statistical analysis.

21 Level of Preparedness for Cross Cultural Child Protection Issues

22 A Chi-square test revealed statistical significant relationship between CSO who had less than 12 months experience (n=23) and those with more than 12 months experience (n=24) and respondents level of opportunity to learn about different CALD communities within their service area x2 (2) =7.641, p<.05. An alpha level of 0.5 was used for this statistical analysis.

23 The level of frequency respondents with working with CALD families

24 Result The second section of CCCPS assessed the agency (Department of Child Safety) perspective and how the agency valued culture and diversity.

25 Response to whether Department respects cultural diversity of its staff Department considers the following concepts: (a) Language; (b) Race; (c) Ethnicity ;( d) Customs and (e) Family Structure in its service delivery when working with CALD families. The findings indicated that the majority of the respondents believed that the Department does consider the following cultural factors of; language, race, ethnicity, customs and family structure in its service delivery with CALD families. 20% of respondents indicated that they did not believe that the Department considered language, race, ethnicity, customs and family structure in its service delivery with CALD families.

26 Cultural Competence of Respondents The third section of the CCCPS explored how CSO’s conducted their service delivery, case planning and assessment when working with CALD families. Predominantly (80%) of CSOs indicated that they either “all” or “most of the time” were culturally competent in their assessments, service delivery and case planning when working with CALD families.

27 Use of Interpreters The fourth section of the CCCPS explored the use of interpreters and their effectiveness when working with CALD families. Results indicate that 70% (combined all of the time & most of the time) of respondents use an interpreter or translator service when working with CALD families.

28 The effectiveness of Interpreter/Translator Services The findings indicated that only 44% (n=20) the interpreter service was effective/very effective. Comments included: “Not always necessary-Interpreters have no CP experiences which is good-remain impartial” and “When available are very effective”. Other comments indicated that the interpreter service was not effective: “Not provide info on cultural issues impacting on family” “Questioned their professionalism in providing neutral service and not summarizing content of conversation according to their own interpretation”.

29 Discussion This study identified key concerns in the provision of child protection practice, policy and service delivery when working with CALD families in the Queensland child protection system. These include the need:  For child safety officers to have the opportunity to attend training;  The development of cross cultural competence training specific to child protection,  The need for interpreters to be familiar with child protection terminology and issues, the need for more CALD-specific services,  Printed fact sheets for CSOs regarding specific cultural communities to their Child Safety Service Centre.  Need for government and non-government agencies to ensure CALD is recognised as a separate demographic group.

30 What contributes to Culturally Insensitive Practice The majority of the respondents in this study found the following factors attributed to culturally insensitive practice in child protection:  Lack of understanding of person's culture, beliefs, customs, cultural awareness;  Lack of understanding;  Lack of knowledge on family supports, dynamics within CALD families;  Not building responsive relationships;  Lack of use of interpreters;  Not offering culturally appropriate follow-up services to CALD families.

31 Limitations of the Study  The sample was comprised of CSO’s working in the investigation and assessment teams.  The sample comprised of only CSO’s who work in the Queensland Child Protection system;  In Australia each state has its own legislation, policies and procedures in relation to child protection;  The small sample size (N=66) did not allow for further inferential statistics to be performed with this sample;  The CCCPS is a self report instrument and there are issues with self reported bias which would need to be addressed.

32 Department Initiatives on CALD Issues  Department of Child Safety Multicultural Action Plan 2006-07 Increasing information on Interpreter & Translation Services Exploring staff to become accredited interpreters Increasing Number of CALD Carer’s through NGO sector ECCQ Development of cross-cultural CP training Increase staff diversity Strengthening the Non Government Sector  Department of Child Safety Practice Paper-Working with CALD families (2006)

33 Future Research-PhD Proposal with UQ  Currently the Author is working on a PhD proposal to look at further development of the Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS) and assess for reliability and validity.  To administer the CCCPS to a larger sample within Department of Child Safety to include CSSC outside of South East Qld  To replicate this study with other states across Australia that have high a CALD population. Other Areas:  Research from CALD families perspective on how they are dealt with CP authorities;  Research into perceptions of Use of Interpreter process & ensuring families rights and views are included when engaging with CP authorities

34 Acknowledgement & Thanks  Queensland Department of Child Safety who provided in-principle for the Research project and support to interview Departmental staff.  Thanks to all the participants who completed the survey.  Rachel Robinson and Dr. Stephen Lake who supported and assisted the author in getting the research approval and ensuring that the author had access and opportunity to interview participants.  Dr Karen Healy who supervised the author throughout the Research Project and guided her through this task.  Colleagues Andrew Haslem, Gregory Shuttlewood and Stacey Allerton who provided guidance, support and inspiration throughout this project.  Thanks to my husband and children who gave me time, space and understanding in completing this project.

35 Questions & Answers or Feedback

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