- The McGowan Government commits $2.6 million to deliver the Aboriginal Representative Organisation pilot
- Two Aboriginal organisations have been awarded grants to deliver the pilot, which will commence November 2022 in Armadale and the Kimberley region
- The AROs will be consulted on placement arrangements and cultural support planning to ensure Aboriginal children in care maintain a close connection to family, culture, community and Country
The State Government has awarded grants totalling more than $1.3 million to two Aboriginal organisations to deliver a pilot program that supports Aboriginal communities to keep children strongly connected to family, culture, community and Country.
Yorganop Association, servicing the metropolitan pilot site in Armadale, will receive $584,706, and Aarnja Ltd in the Kimberley will receive $726,294 to implement the 12-month Aboriginal Representative Organisations (ARO) pilot.
A further $1.3 million has been committed to extend the ARO service delivery model for an additional 12 months in the pilot locations following its conclusion in October 2023.
The initiative is a critical step toward implementing changes made last year to the Children and Community Services Act 2004, which include requirements for AROs to be consulted on placement arrangements and cultural support planning for children in their community.
The two organisations were selected based on their existing capacity and expertise, as well as strong local and cultural knowledge, which will strengthen the application of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and ensure Aboriginal children in care are placed with family and remain in the community.
Independent Aboriginal consultancy Think Culture are in the final stages of developing a service model that is flexible and responsive to local needs. This has been informed by community-led stakeholder engagement, conducted by the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council and the Kimberley Aboriginal Children in Care Committee, in the pilot locations earlier this year.
The roll out of the ARO model State-wide following the pilot conclusion will involve a tender process open to all registered Aboriginal businesses.
The introduction of AROs is part of a suite of reforms being undertaken by the Department of Communities to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal children in care and their families.
The initiative will also be critical to achieving socio-economic Target 12 under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which aims to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
Comments attributed to Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:
"The State Government is committed to working alongside Aboriginal children, their families and their community to achieve meaningful outcomes, that are led by the community.
"The Aboriginal Representative Organisation pilot will ensure decisions about Aboriginal children in care are informed by robust cultural consultation.
"It will support Aboriginal children in care to build and maintain a sense of identity and establish strong connections to family, culture, community and Country, which is fundamental to achieving positive, long-term outcomes."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti:
"The WA Government recognises Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, and culture must be central to shared decision-making, partnership and service delivery into the future.
"This pilot is a great example of what the government is trying to achieve through its Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy and Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.
"Aboriginal self-determination is a key component of Closing the Gap, and these kinds of measures will hopefully lead to better outcomes for children."
Comment attributed to Yorganop Chief Executive Officer Dawn Wallam:
"Yorganop is pleased to provide place-based services that prioritise Aboriginal children's connection to culture, kin and community."
Comment attributed to Aarnja Chief Executive Officer Damien Parriman:
"Aarnja is excited to be delivering this pilot for Kimberley Aboriginal children and their families. The opportunity to advocate for culturally safe and appropriate placements will ensure our children can maintain their connection to culture, family and the wider community."
Child Protection Minister's office - 6552 6600
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 6400