State-first training to better support Aboriginal families

Frontline staff will receive first-of-its-kind training to better support keeping Aboriginal families together and out of the child protection system.

The revolutionary training program is set to upskill the entire child and family early intervention workforce and equip workers with specialist training in how to respond to the complex effects of intergenerational trauma.

The two-day training program, called Yaitya Mingkamingka Purrutiapinthi – Tree of Hope, will be mandatory for the 300-plus practitioners working in the Child and Family Support System.

The program will be delivered by South Australian Aboriginal organisations including Aboriginal Family Support Services, Kornar Winmil Yunti and Tauondi Aboriginal Community College and follows extensive consultation with practitioners, non-government providers, Aboriginal elders and people with lived experience.

The State Government invested more than $200,000 in developing the program with SNAICC, which was trialed with nearly 40 practitioners and received positive feedback.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said every child facing the prospect of removal from their family deserves to be supported by professionals with the right skills and training.

“Early intervention to keep families safe in their community is our continued goal,” said Minister Lensink.

“Our front-line staff go above and beyond to support our most vulnerable families and this training will help us better support our Aboriginal families.

“This training will provide our workforce with an understanding of the very difficult history Aboriginal families have faced and the real impact this grief, loss and trauma can have on individuals, families and communities.

“In practice, this means that support staff will be trained to use a more sensitive and healing approach in their work, so they can avoid re-traumatising families who have already gone through so much.

“This is a significant step in a total reform of the child protection system.”

The need for a more culturally sensitive and trauma-responsive workforce was highlighted during the extensive consultation to shape the new Child and Family Support System, designed to provide early support to vulnerable families before they reach a crisis point requiring state intervention.

“Aboriginal people told us if we want vulnerable families to access early support, we need to be considerate of and responsive to past trauma, that for some families has a lasting effect over generations,” Minister Lensink said.

“Up-skilling the workforce with this custom-built program, run by and for South Australians, is a direct action resulting from this feedback.”

SNAICC Chief Executive Officer and Arrernte/Luritja woman Catherine Liddle said the system must be culturally safe and sensitive to trauma for Aboriginal families to feel comfortable seeking support.

“This innovative new approach embeds local cultural values relevant to South Australian Aboriginal communities, which is important for the workforce to understand,” said Ms Liddle.

“Together with Dana Shen, we were pleased to deliver this program for the South Australian Government, that will make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal people receiving the services.”

The Child and Family Support System consists of non-government providers of intensive family services and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Safer Family Services workforce.

The training will roll-out from July 2021.

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