7th SNAICC National Conference – Bring Them Home: Securing the rights of our children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This short article summarises some of the major themes of the SNAICC Conference held in Canberra last month, which focused on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to grow up safe, healthy and strong in their families and communities. Major themes include self-determination and healing for intergenerational trauma. The summary includes a suite of supporting resources for services providing support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Evaluate

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services: Evaluation Readiness Toolkit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evaluation

This new toolkit from SNAICC gives fantastic guidance on designing and measuring for outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services. It compiles an insightful list of 21 key outcomes for this sector, drawn from the 8 key principles of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Services Wellbeing Framework. It also features a detailed, yet accessible, step-by-step guide to help you develop a theory of change to support and measure for outcomes. This toolkit centres on evaluation work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services, but its clear and concise explanation of how to use outcomes, an outcomes framework, and a theory of change will be relevant and useful to many workers across the wider child and family services sector.

Design, Evaluate

ARPNet Dilly Bag: a practical field guide and research tools for use by Aboriginal research practitioners in Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Practice Tool

This is a practical guide to participatory and other research tools for Aboriginal research practitioners. It was developed by a network of Aboriginal Research Practitioners in the Top End who want to use participatory tools that enable participants to better understand why and what is being done.

Reconciliation Australia has released its biennial Australian Reconciliation Barometer. The report offers a snapshot of attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the broader Australian community. Almost all Australians (97% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and 89% Australians in the general community) believe their relationship is important. Though there have been significant strides towards reconciliation challenges persist. In the six months prior to the survey, 46% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experienced at least one form of racial prejudice. The report makes recommendations to government, community and individuals to make reconciliation a reality, including investment in public anti-racism campaigns and constitutional recognition.

This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.

This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.

Closing the Gap: Prime Minister’s Report 2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Report

The Prime Minister has delivered the ninth annual report addressing the Closing the Gap targets. The report recognises that changes are on the way; however, Australia is failing on six out of seven key measures. A new target for Indigenous 4 year olds enrolled in early childhood education is 95 per cent by 2025. The data shows that in 2015, 87% of all Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school. Though improvements have been made in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students, this target is not on track. Last year, 640 more children needed to read at the Year 3 benchmark to halve the gap. We must look at the evidence to find effective solutions and focus on empowering and building the capacity of local communities.

Evaluate

Evaluating the outcomes of programs for Indigenous families and communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This is a practitioner resource by Stewart Muir and Adam Dean outlining some of the key considerations for organisations who are thinking about evaluating the outcomes or impact of a program for Indigenous families or communities.

The 2017 Family Matters Report has been released, showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and 9.8 times more likely to be living in out of home care than non-Indigenous children. It is estimated that by 2036 the number of Indigenous children in care will more than triple if nothing is changed. The reports set out what governments must do to turn the tide on the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care, and improve outcomes for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Identify, Design, Implement, Evaluate

Healing Foundation Report – Looking Where the Light Is: creating and restoring safety and healing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

This report from the Healing Foundation offers a cultural framework for addressing child sexual abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It views sexual abuse holistically exploring impacts on children, families and communities as well as exploring processes for healing, wellbeing and safety.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has developed Knowing Growing Showing; a resource that supports teachers to engage students in financial literacy by connecting with and building upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and community values, world views and lived experiences. The resource is applied in three learning stages: Knowing - what is money?; Growing - money, you and community; Showing - money and enterprise. The resource is aligned to the Australian teaching curriculum, and offers a flexible approach to teaching. It can be adapted for use with cultural groups other than First Australians.

National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health

During this year’s World Mental Health Week, the Federal Government launched a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This framework sets out a comprehensive and culturally appropriate guide to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing reforms. The framework is vital to the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who continue to experience greater levels of mental health issues than the broader population.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Building the evidence base of Aboriginal programs and practices to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evaluation, Evidence Informed Practice, OPEN Symposium 2019

In this presentation, Melanie Ashman and Kerry Brogan from the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) spoke about the development and implementation of a culturally appropriate Evaluation Framework. VACCA’s process is Aboriginal led and privileges the voices of Aboriginal practitioners and clients. Their Evaluation Framework foregrounds culturally specific outcomes to ensure that evaluations measure what is most important to the Aboriginal Community to build an evidence base of effective programs and practices.

Evaluate

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – Developing a health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework for Aboriginal Victorians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, OPEN Symposium 2019

In this presentation, Gabrielle Johnson (VACCA) and Prof. Margaret Kelaher (University of Melbourne) discuss their development of an Aboriginal-led, Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety evaluation framework on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The framework foregrounds Aboriginal-defined measures of success for family violence, health, wellbeing and child safety – which align strongly with the principle of self-determination. The inclusion of Aboriginal voices in the development this framework means that the priorities of Aboriginal people will be addressed in forthcoming evaluations.

Design, Implement, Evaluate

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The Common Elements Approach: Trialling an innovative approach to embedding evidence at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Service

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Evidence Informed Practice, OPEN Symposium 2019

Kathy Crouch (MDAS), Nicola Thomson (DHHS) and Jessica Hateley-Browne (CEI) discuss the recent trial of the Common Elements Approach in the Mallee District Aboriginal Services, one of the five trial sites. Presenting wisdom from the frontline, experiences of collaboration, shared learning and joint problem solving from the two participating teams at MDAS reveals how co-design practice is an encouraging learning consideration for community services.

Problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours in Australian children and young people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This paper reviews the available literature to summarise what we currently know about Australian children and young people who exhibit Problem Sexual Behaviours (PSAs) and Sexually Abusive Behaviours (SABs). Particular attention is paid to vulnerable populations such as Indigenous children and young people, and those in out-of-home care. It is argued that children and young people who demonstrate PSAs and SABs are in need of early therapeutic support.

Reporting the health and development of children in rural and remote Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Safety and wellbeing

A new report highlights the rapidly growing disparity between city and rural children’s developmental health. The report emphasises the developmental, behavioural and mental health needs of children aged 0-12 years of age, and the current gaps in the provision of appropriate health services for children and families. Aboriginal children are significantly more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to live in remote and rural areas, and are have greater exposure to adverse conditions and lack of services in these areas.

Review of mental health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This article published in the International Indigenous Policy Journal reviews the programs, policies and interventions that aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in out-of-home care (OOHC). The review identified nine programs or policies that are designed to improve the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people in OOHC in Australia and abroad. The report concludes that there is a need for culturally competent service provision and attention to the monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies and programs.

Spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s access to 4 types of maternal health services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This report examines spatial variation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's access to hospitals with public birthing units and 3 other types of maternal health services. It finds that over 250,000 Indigenous women live more than a one hour drive away from a public birthing unit and that poorer access to maternal health services is associated with higher rates of pre-term birth and low birthweight.

Strong families, safe kids: family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Family Violence

While most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have strong and healthy relationships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are significantly more likely to experience family violence than non-Indigenous people. This policy paper outlines the impact of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the role of communal grief, disempowerment and trauma. It also investigates the key factors behind why current policy and practice responses are failing, and a detailed pathway for achieving change. Connection to culture and the right to self-determination are central to supporting families to be free from violence.

Understanding and applying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle: A resource for legislation, policy, and program development

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

To support the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, SNAICC is producing a series of resources. The first is a guide to understanding and applying the principle, including definitions of the core elements and guidance on the best-practice approach to implementing them. The resource draws on the research evidence base and on the guidance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the child and family services sector.

Youth detention population in Australia 2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a bulletin looking at the numbers and rates of young people aged 10 and over who were in youth detention in Australia due to their involvement, or alleged involvement, in crime. There were 964 young people in youth detention on an average night in the June quarter 2017, the majority being male (91%), aged 10–17 (84%) and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (53%). While the rates of young people in detention on an average night decreased over the four year period in New South Wales, Western Australia and The Australian Capital Territory, the rate has increased in Victoria.