The Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance (The Alliance) supports Wungurilwil Gapgapduir and The Aboriginal Children’s Forum KPI 7 states that 100% unborn reports should be referred to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).
However, there are issues that need to be addressed prior to this KPI coming into effective to ensure that we not only reach the target of 100% of unborn reports referred to an ACCO, but both Child Protection and ACCOs are supported to work together to achieve the best outcomes for expecting parents and their babies.
- In the two-year period between April 2017 and March 2019, there were 702 unborn reports made to Child Protection regarding Aboriginal children. Of these, 21% resulted in substantiation and progressed to out of-home care within 12 months of the child’s birth. That is 146 children and their families our Members could have worked with to prevent further trauma and cycles of disadvantage in their communities.
- Connecting families with an Aboriginal service as early as possible can completely change the trajectory of a person’s life. ACCOs build on the parent’s connection to culture, family and community, which is fundamental in the work they do to provide wraparound support services for expecting vulnerable families.
- The Alliance's members have highlighted the bias and power Child Protection practioners can hold over cases based on prior history of parents rather than their current circumstances. There are no consequences or accountability to Child Protection staff who are using outdated information to influence decisions, with ACCOs left asking the question ‘how do we hold this power to account?’ This act of power not only shows concerns for the safety and wellbeing of the expecting parents but also the ACCO staff who are working with the families.
- The disconnect between policy and practice of some Child Protection staff, and their ability to influence other organisations policies, such as hospitals, is setting Aboriginal families up to fail.
- The Aliance recommends that the Government develop a clear child protection policy and practice advice on referring unborn reports to ACCOs, and mapping of existing services in ACCOs with DHHS data, including alternative supports available for parents.