The Mid-West-Gascoyne region has been announced as the first of two locations for the Western Australian trial of Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM).
Under the pilot, independent Aboriginal convenors will facilitate a culturally safe process to support Aboriginal families to make decisions on how to keep their children safe and connected to their community.
It has been designed to strengthen Aboriginal self-determination and address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.
The trial will work with three cohorts:
- Aboriginal families engaged in pre-birth planning, with the goal of preventing infants from coming into care;
- Aboriginal families engaged in Intensive Family Support, with the goal of preventing children from coming into care; and
- Aboriginal families where one or more of the children in the family group are in care, with the aim of working towards safely returning them to family (reunification).
The co-design of the pilot was facilitated through a series of roundtable meetings in late 2020. An independently selected implementation group of senior Aboriginal leaders have been meeting since February this year to consider and make decisions about a number of elements, including pilot locations and cohorts. This work is done in partnership with the Department of Communities.
AFLDM is a model that provides a culturally safe space for family and extended family to support improved collaboration with families at risk of child protection intervention or with children in the child protection system.
With different forms of AFLDM already in place in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, the WA trial is key to ensuring that the best model for WA is adopted.
The pilot will support families in making culturally based, family-driven decisions through meetings facilitated by an Aboriginal practitioner who is external to the Department of Communities.
The McGowan Government has invested $715,000 to establish implementation of the two-year AFLDM pilot, which was prioritised in the 2020 Western Australia Recovery Plan as a key initiative for supporting vulnerable people.
The pilot complements a range of other initiatives to improve the safety of children, including the Aboriginal In-Home Support Service and efforts to expand and build the capacity of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) sector in Western Australia.
Further information on the AFLDM pilot can be viewed on the Department of Communities website.
As stated by Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:
“This pilot is significant because it aims to give Aboriginal people greater ownership of issues around family and child safety, and reinforces our efforts to address the high number of Aboriginal children in the child protection system.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up almost 57 per cent of the children in out-of-home care in WA, so this overrepresentation can only be addressed through a combined effort by all.
“Aboriginal organisations need to lead this work – they are the experts and we must work alongside them to deliver culturally appropriate solutions that will help to keep children and young people safe at home.
“The McGowan Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal-led approaches that empower families, while ensuring that child safety is at the centre of all of our considerations.”
As stated by AFLDM Co-Chair William Hayward:
“The pilot is essential in the development of comprehensive and effective case planning approaches that are reflective and responsive to Aboriginal people.
“The model is focused on best practice principles developed through Family Group Conferencing whilst aligning with Child Protection procedures.
“This is a significant shift towards better outcomes and a more robust child protection system aimed at the reduction of our community’s overrepresentation of children and young people in care.”