Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

22 November, 2016

Themes from Nyland  #12

The team from the Guardian’s office have analysed the 850 pages and 260 recommendations from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report1.  We have extracted some themes and priorities to allow us to critique the government’s response, judge the improvements over time and to shape our own work.  Following is a description of the issues and a short list of things to watch for in the reform process.  The first eleven in the series are available.2 We will post the rest over the next few weeks. 3 

Commissioner Nyland noted that families from cultural and linguistic backgrounds that are different to the mainstream are prone to be in circumstances that can give rise to child protection issues. These include trauma, social and cultural isolation, discrimination, language barriers and poverty associated with poor employment opportunities. 

She noted:

It appears that the Agency currently knows very little about the population of culturally and linguistically diverse families who might need a child protection response. Data about the origin of children reported to the system has been inconsistently recorded and retained, and is not likely to be reliable. 

She recommended that information about the cultural background of children coming into contact with the child protection system be recorded in the electronic case management system and that this data be aggregated to inform a system-wide response.

She recommended a qualitative review of the capacity of the current Multicultural Community Engagement Team to provide the necessary state-wide response and that this review should include input from all stakeholders with special emphasis on the views of children.

She observed that, although current practice guides emphasised the importance of respecting and nurturing children’s cultural and linguistic heritage, there existed very little information and support for staff to work in that way.  The Commissioner made recommendations that organisations support and develop the cultural competence of all staff and carers by setting cultural competency targets for the organisation and by developing training and practice guides.

As reform progresses we look forward to seeing:

  • comprehensive recording of cultural and linguistic information about children coming into contact with the child protection system
  • analysis of emerging trends from that data to inform planning and resourcing
  • a review of the current Multicultural Community Engagement Team service’s capacity and suitability for the task with an emphasis on hearing the views of children
  • development of the DCP’s cultural competency by setting cultural competency targets and the developing training programs  and practice guides
  • every child in care with a diverse cultural heritage having a comprehensive cultural connection plan

Please join the discussion on child protection reform via the reply box below.

1 Unless otherwise noted all quotes are from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report,

2 See also posts on Coordination and Collaboration, The voice of the child , Emergency care , Residential care Home-based care, Therapeutic care, Aboriginal childrenEducationResponding to abused or neglected children and Children with disabilities. ***

3 This is not intended to be a précis of Commissioner Nyland’s report which provides a very clear and readable summary.  Because of the Guardian’s mandate, this analysis will tend to focus on issues for children in out-of-home-care.

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