The NSW Aboriginal Child & Family Conference is a key event for those working with Aboriginal children and families in NSW. The conference theme was “Strong Communities Strong Kids”. The conference put the focus firmly on strategies for involving Aboriginal youth, families and communities in developing services and policies that lead to system change.
- There is a need for improvement in funding processes to direct investment towards Aboriginal children and families, addressing key community priorities. This includes greater flexibility in funding and outcomes, and access to focused funding aligned to the needs present in Aboriginal outcomes, allowing communities to develop tailored approaches.
- There is pressing importance of Indigenous data sovereignty in empowering Aboriginal communities in service design, evaluation and continuous improvement, as well as driving accountability of government and service providers in achieving outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities.
- The need for culture as a foundation for service provision. This will enable a holistic approach with frameworks informed by culture, spirituality, emotional and physical aspects. Environmental issues that affect communities, including drought and climate change, and their impacts on children and families. Water shortage is a key issue.
- Health needs of children and families need to be addressed, including mental health and initiatives to address suicide and self-harm among Aboriginal children and young people.
The conference highlighted successful strategies in developing well-integrated, holistic and culturally responsive local service systems. It is vital that services are available and accessible from the early intervention stage. The delivery of these individualised services will help to strengthen Aboriginal children, families and communities’ connections to culture, facilitating self-determination and improving outcomes.