Aboriginal children and young people continue to be over-represented at all levels of child protection, requiring a concerted effort from services and the service system more broadly to effectively meet the needs of Aboriginal children and young people, their families and communities. However, while there is a growing focus on investment in evidence-based approaches to achieve meaningful change for children and families across the continuum of support, there is very little published evidence about what works in Aboriginal communities.
AbSec understands that Aboriginal communities are experts in their own lives, and have an unmatched understanding of the needs of their children, families and communities. Having identified an absence of meaningful data on the effectiveness of parenting supports for Aboriginal parents and communities, Family and Community Services (FACS) engaged AbSec to develop case studies from across NSW of effective and innovative Aboriginal-led practice in the provision of parenting supports. This was intended as a starting point in articulating the key elements of effective parenting supports for Aboriginal parents and families.
AbSec engaged with practitioners and service managers from six service providers about the design and implementation of parenting services through their organisations targeted towards Aboriginal parents. Across these case studies, a number of key elements emerged, including:
- Aboriginal self-determination at the systems and process levels, through Aboriginal community controlled organisations, including the design and delivery of programs tailored to local communities
- culturally embedded and locally tailored approaches, building on community strengths
- the critical role of skilled Aboriginal practitioners in delivering culturally enriched services that are aligned with the needs and expectations of Aboriginal parents and communities
- Programs that include flexibility and adaptability to meet the identified need of local Aboriginal parents and families
- holistic, integrated service delivery, including partnerships with other relevant service providers, to support parenting skill development and the implementation of these skills into practice within the family context
- availability and accessibility of service provision using a ‘no wrong door’ approach to ensure vulnerable Aboriginal parents and families receive services when and where they are needed.
These key themes are consistent with the principles identified by AbSec for a holistic Aboriginal child and family system, and demonstrate the importance of Aboriginal-led, culturally embedded supports that are tailored to the holistic needs of Aboriginal families across the continuum of care.