Aboriginal Children’s Forum
I rise to inform the house of the progress of the Andrews Labor government to ensure Aboriginal children in care remain connected to their culture. Last week I was pleased to attend the ninth Aboriginal Children’s Forum in Preston hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Association (VACCA). The Victorian Aboriginal Children’s Forum is a representative forum of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, the community sector and government, established to drive the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in or at risk of entering out-of-home care. I have had great pride in co-chairing this forum, which has been meeting quarterly, and seeing the significant work and progress that has been made on self-determination for Aboriginal people and particularly the work that has been done to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
One of the key achievements that I was very pleased for us to discuss at the forum was the significant progress we have made in transitioning Aboriginal children on protection orders to Aboriginal organisations, and in fact we have reached a milestone of a quarter of those children having transitioned. At the forum I was also pleased to announce an additional $440 000 to ensure continuing connection to family, country and culture for Aboriginal children in care.
The foster and kinship carer recruitment and capacity building initiative further builds on existing initiatives worth $5.3 million to assist with capacity building and the recruitment of Aboriginal foster and kinship carers, and this funding will be shared amongst 11 Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to provide support, information and training so that carers for Aboriginal children are well-equipped to ensure the children in their care remain connected to their culture. A new kinship care model that I announced in December also focuses on cultural connection and reunification and provides reunification support for Aboriginal families.
Another significant discussion that was held at the forum was on the progress that has been made in terms of VACCA’s Aboriginal children in Aboriginal care program. This is about the implementation of section 18 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 that is now seeing Aboriginal organisations take legal guardianship for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and I can report that there was enthusiastic support for this particular program from those present. Our government will continue to support Aboriginal organisations to in the spirit of self-determination take on more responsibility for Aboriginal children in care.