New intensive support program for Aboriginal families in Adelaide’s West

18 Sep 2019 newsmedia

A new Liberal Government $2.2 million intensive support program will be designed specifically for Aboriginal families and run by an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation in Adelaide’s West, with the aim of keeping families together.

Recognising families in Adelaide’s western suburbs need support, the new pilot will help families with complex needs so that their children can grow up safely and stay connected to community and culture.

KWY Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Services will co-design the program, gaining input from Aboriginal community members and other government and non-government stakeholders over the next six months and then be delivered over two years.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the new program will be tailored to provide intensive, culturally-led support for Aboriginal families who may struggle with child neglect, homelessness, family violence, drugs, alcohol and mental health.

“The new pilot will allow social workers to work with families 24/7 in their home environments to help them manage issues and improve overall family functioning, with the aim of keeping families together if safe to do so,” said Minister Lensink.

“Aboriginal children are over-represented in the Child Protection system and genuinely addressing this requires a fundamental commitment to investing in community, culture and strengths."

“This pilot forms part of the state-wide child and family support system we’re currently designing, with the long-term expectation that more children will be able to live safely together with their families at home."

“Within this strategy, we are firmly committed to the Family Matters principles and supporting the development of Aboriginal governance, organisations and frontline workers.”

KWY chief executive officer Craig Rigney said the service will have a unique model to empower Aboriginal families and give them a voice.

“As an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation, we understand the absolute need for a specialised service that is culturally appropriate, trauma informed, therapeutic and holistic that can work intensely with Aboriginal families,” said Mr Rigney.

“It is also crucial to have a skilled and experienced workforce to engage with our families to meet the needs that they themselves identify and to ensure they are included in the decision process.”

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People April Lawrie said: “The voice of the Aboriginal community is critical in the development of programs and services established to promote the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children in culturally appropriate ways.”

“Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are best positioned to lead a co-designing approach which takes the time to understand and respect Aboriginal ways of supporting and working with vulnerable families, drawing upon culturally appropriate approaches."

“Aboriginal children and young people should be able to grow up safe and connected to family, community, culture and country and a focus on empowering Aboriginal people is key to achieving these outcomes.”

The pilot will be subject to independent, professional evaluation, with capacity for the program to be refined as it rolls out and potential for similar models to be adopted across the state in future.