Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People in Residential Care 2015

1 November, 2016

One of the areas of interest for the Guardian’s Office in its 2014-15 monitoring was the extent to which residential care supported the connection to culture and community of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents. 

Although there was interest and some enthusiasm shown by both workers and residents, examples of where this was done comprehensively were hard to find. There were few Aboriginal residential care workers and workers often lacked the confidence and the cultural competency to embark on that work.

Residential care workers observed that there had frequently been little background done on developing cultural connection prior to the resident arriving and it was not uncommon to have little information on a new resident’s cultural connections at the time they arrived. Some observed that they lacked the time to undertake the work without external support.

The Report identified four imperatives if residential care were to improve significantly in this area:

  • Build the capacity and confidence of organisations that provide residential care to engage with and prioritise cultural connection.
  • Require Families SA (now known as the Department for Child Protection) to elicit and record information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s family and cultural connections and to inform residential care staff prior to their placement.
  • Build the understanding of residential care workers and residents of the importance of cultural connection and their capacity to facilitate it.
  • Improve the availability of in-house resources and external support in order to give effect to cultural connection.

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