At AFSS we strongly believe in protecting the rights of Aboriginal children, families and communities to ensure a positive cultural identity and the continuation of our culture. We believe cultural safety and security for our children is paramount and that Aboriginal people need a stronger voice within the child protection system to advocate for those rights.
The Children’s Protection Act 1993, recognises the importance of ensuring culturally appropriate placements and the value of proper consultation in relation to Aboriginal children. Section 5 of the Act outlines the need for consultation from a recognised Aboriginal organisation – also known as a Gazetted organisation – before any decisions or Orders are made in relation to Aboriginal children.
A Gazetted organisation is one that has been declared by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette, after consultation with the Aboriginal community. AFSS is currently the only Gazetted organisation in South Australia that provides a Cultural Consultancy program.
What the program offers
When the Department for Child Protection is concerned for the safety and wellbeing of a child, they may become involved with a family to try and address those concerns. However, when the level of risk or danger to the child's safety is high, the Department may decide to pursue an Order in the Youth Court of South Australia or refer the case for a Family Care Meeting. The role of the Cultural Consultant is to provide advocacy, consultation and cultural advice in these child protection matters through written advice to the Youth Court in response to Care and Protection Applications and attendance at Family Care Meetings.
As Aboriginal cultural groups within South Australia are diverse, is not possible to give specific cultural advice based on a child’s cultural group. However, the Cultural Consultant does provide advice and recommendations in relation to a child’s cultural background (if known), placement, access plans and support provided to the family.
Family Care Meetings are an opportunity for the family to come together with Families SA to hear concerns and to come up with their own solutions to keep their children safe. The Cultural Consultant, or another delegated Aboriginal cultural representative, attends these Family Care Meetings to ensure that they are run in a culturally appropriate manner and that any plans made take into account the children’s cultural needs. Family Care Meetings are convened by the Youth Court Conferencing Unit, which is independent of the Department for Child Protection.
The overarching principles of all advice given rely on the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and the importance of culture, country and connection for all Aboriginal people.
The Cultural Consultancy service, provided through our role as a Gazetted organisation, is based solely in Adelaide. Cultural representatives are available to attend Family Care meetings in Berri, Ceduna, Coober Pedy, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln.
Want to find out more?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (08) 8205 1500.