More support for Indigenous families starts to pay off

The Queensland Government is marking Reconciliation Week with the release of the inaugural Changing Tracks Progress Report, highlighting a number of improvements to the lives of Indigenous Queenslanders.

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the Our Way strategy was a 20 year commitment to reducing the gap in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system by 2037.

“Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe and secure in loving families, connected to culture and kin, and we want that for every child,” she said.

“Our Changing Tracks Action Plan is the first phase of a 20 year strategy that was developed in partnership with First Nations people, and I’m pleased to say we are seeing some early positive results.

“As at 30 June 2018 and 30 September 2018 the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care has stabilized after 14 consecutive years of increases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation in the child protection system.

“While these early results are encouraging, we need to keep building on this early progress.”

Ms Farmer said $34.4 million per year had been invested to roll out 33 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Services across the state, making it easier for families to access the support they need, when they need it.

“More than 5,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have been referred to Family Wellbeing Services, which in turn means these families are receiving more support and help to make sure they can safely care for their children at home,” she said.

“We know that being connected to kin and culture is important for the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is another reason it’s important to help families access the tools and skills they need to build their capacity to safely care for and protect their children.

“Two thirds of families who have accessed Family Wellbeing Services have had their cases finalised with most or all of their needs met, which is a good result.

“The early years of education are so important to set kids up for a bright future. It’s positive to see that ninety per cent of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged four to five years old accessed early childhood education.

“It’s also pleasing to see that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers in Queensland increased by 5 per cent over the last year, meaning more children who can’t live at home with their parents are cared for in homes where they can be connected to culture.”

Ms Farmer said the implementation of the First 1000 Days Australia initiative supports families to give children the best possible start in life.

“This has a focus on pre-conception through to the child’s second birthday – a time that we know is absolutely critical for children,” she said.

Co-Chairs of the Queensland First Children and Families Board Mick Gooda and Professor Boni Robertson said Queensland was the first State to adopt a long-term strategy, co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to eliminate the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Child Protection System by 2037.

“The implementation of the Our Way strategy includes three phases that will progressively establish the systems and services to achieve these commitments,” Professor Robertson said.

“The first phase is Changing Tracks from 2017-2022 which lays the foundations required to enable change across the Child Protection System.”

Mr Gooda said $162.8 million had been invested to support the implementation of the first Changing Tracks Action Plan under the Our Way strategy.

“The 35 actions in this plan are driven by strategic partners across a number of government and non-government agencies,” he said.

“Progress against the plan is on track to be completed by the end of 2019.

“Some of the key achievements so far include the establishment of the Queensland First Children and Families Board – a national first, and the Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2017 supporting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to self-determination, enabling family-led decision making and placing greater emphasis on culture as a protective factor.”

Co-chair of Family Matters Natalie Lewis, said the partnership approach to developing the strategy reflected a change in the way the Queensland Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities work together.

“This is a comprehensive and ambitious reform agenda, but the leadership of First Nations people and organisations in the process gives me confidence that it will deliver transformational change for our children and young people,” she said.

The Changing Tracks Progress Report can be found at

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