Working together towards self-determination: The care of Aboriginal kids in Aboriginal hands
Wednesday 27 May
AbSec plays an important role in building the capacity of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to ensure they are ready to assist Aboriginal children and families in need of support.
This often involves managing the transition of Aboriginal family welfare services from non-Aboriginal NGOs (non-government organisations) to the Aboriginal sector. One example is the Yiriyirimbang Koori Out of Home Care Service in western New South Wales.
Yiriyirimbang is currently a partnership between Anglicare and the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) that provides out-of-home care (OOHC) case management to Aboriginal children, young people, and their carers. There are currently around 100 Aboriginal children and young people in OOHC in the Orange region.
“It is imperative for our communities to have local functioning Aboriginal organisations to be at the forefront of driving service delivery to our people wherever possible. To be successful though, this approach must be supported by our key regional, state or national identified bodies, such as AbSec,” says OAMS CEO, Jamie Newman.
For the past eight months, AbSec Project Manager, Karl Williamson, has worked with the organisations to transfer the management and ownership of Yiriyirimbang’s services to OAMS, which is an ACCO. The organisations hope to finalise this process in 2021.
“The majority of my work so far has involved helping OAMS become a Permanency Support Program (PSP) provider — developing their policies and procedures for their accreditation with the NSW Office of the Children's Guardian,” states Karl.
Karl’s experience of the child protection system as a Case Worker with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has enabled him to nurture collaboration between all the stakeholders, as they work through a transition plan.
“Although it has had its challenges, bringing everyone together has been a rewarding experience,” reveals Karl. “Ultimately, the transition will mean that the welfare of Aboriginal kids will be in Aboriginal hands.”
Karl adds, “As a Wiradjuri man, it has been a positive experience working on a project that fits my own ethics and values around the necessity for early intervention measures and Aboriginal-led solutions. I believe Aboriginal children are more likely to thrive when they are cared for by Aboriginal people and organisations.”
Karen Kim, Anglicare’s General Manager, Cultural Safety and Training greatly values the expertise and leadership of Absec in the development of the Yiriyirimbang program.
“Karl brings immense knowledge to the table — which is vital to the transition process. I’m happy for Absec to lead the way on this,” she states. “Developing OOHC partnerships with Aboriginal organisations is complex, made more so when two of the partners are non-Aboriginal organisations. This includes DCJ and Anglicare. Indeed, the expertise of AbSec is essential, in its ability to respond to the demands of these organisations, while ensuring the whole process is Aboriginal-led.”
Karl’s work is part of AbSec’s Strengthening Support for Aboriginal Children in Western NSW Project. Under this project, DCJ commissioned AbSec to support the development of three ACCOs into PSP services. The Yiriyirimbang / OAMS partnership will be a milestone for Aboriginal communities in the region, being the first ACCO providing PSP services in western NSW.
This vital initiative is helping to achieve self-determination for Aboriginal people in relation to the welfare of their children, as well as effective and culturally sensitive support to Aboriginal families in need.