Connecting to family, culture and community is integral… with some help from Nunga Oog

Following National Reconciliation Week (with Mabo Day closing out this important week on 3 June each year), we thought we might mention a wonderful initiative that sits within our office – Nunga Oog!

It is an unfortunate reality that more than one third of children in care are Aboriginal. Similarly, one third of all calls through our ‘call-line’ (1800 275 664 or 8226 8570) relate to the advocacy needs of Aboriginal children in care. In this advocacy work, it is very clear that family, culture and community is something that is integral for Aboriginal children’s sense of self and their sense of belonging.

Further to this, 43% of the calls coming to the ‘call-line’ related to Aboriginal children and young people’s participation in decision making. Children and young people were explicitly clear that cultural considerations were not given due weight when decisions were made, and that there needed to be more cultural thought and advice when decisions were being made about them. This occurred particularly in relation to decisions such as family contact arrangements, return to country and being involved with cultural activities.

Principal Aboriginal Advocate, Shaylem Wilson said:

“The bond Aboriginal children have with their culture is sacred, inherent to their existence, and crucial for shaping their sense of self. We must foster positive connections to culture to further enhance children’s cultural identity and build their resilience.”


This reinforces the work we have been doing through the Nunga Oog project – which launched early last year – where a safety symbol was developed, under the guidance of Aboriginal children and young people in care. This initiative spoke about their own journey and experiences, and represents their own imagery and aesthetics. 

“Our Nunga Oog is a perfect example of how we promote culture as a protective factor for Aboriginal children in care.“ said Shaylem.

Guardian for Children and Young People, Shona Reid said:

“We want Aboriginal children and young people in care to know we are there for them and that they have the right to connect to their culture, wherever they are and whoever they live with.   

Each time they see Nunga Oog, or hug their very own plush toy, we hope they will be reminded of their connection and that they should feel proud and strong for who they are.”

For those who wish to access our Nunga Oogs they are available for Aboriginal children and young people in care (resources order form) – and Nunga Oog is also available to attend events. If you attended any National Reconciliation Week events in Adelaide this year – you might have seen Nunga Oog out and about!

Whilst the commemorative events of the last week have come to an end, it is important that the sector and those that work within it keep the momentum and focus going beyond the 27th May to the 3rd June. Aboriginal children and young people depend on decision makers and support workers to ensure that their cultural rights and needs are supported and prioritised. When this occurs, children will flourish and they will inevitably inspire us all.

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We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal People as the traditional owners
and custodians of the land we live and work on, their living culture and their unique role in the life of South Australia.