ACT News

Cultural advisers appointed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care

Minister for Children and Young People Mick Gentleman.
Minister for Children and Young People Mick Gentleman. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The ACT government has appointed five cultural advisers to bolster support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care. 

Minister for Children and Young People Mick Gentleman said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisers would help to articulate the needs of children and young people in care and would play a critical role in assisting case workers to ensure their work and decision making is culturally respectful. 

"They will provide advice on and assist in locating kin who may be able to support families and children as they come into contact with the child protection system," Mr Gentleman said. 

"The advisers will meet with the children, young people and their families as appropriate to ensure that the care being provided to them is culturally appropriate. For example, making sure that care plans respect their cultures." 

The government has not released the names of the five cultural advisers, with Mr Gentleman saying the positions were "very sensitive in the community". 

The government advertised the positions and successful applicants completed training with Care and Protection staff.

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Mr Gentleman said there was an over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care nationally, and the ACT government was developing ways to address this. 

He said the appointment of the cultural advisers was the result of work done in 2013 when the government consulted with people who had been in care, families, stakeholders and experts. 

The cultural advice service model will be trialled for 12 months. 

"It is hoped that a successful trial might lead, in the future, to the development of even greater autonomy of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders through the formation of an independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welfare association," Mr Gentleman said. 

The ACT government invested $1.4 million in the 2014-15 budget to support children and young people in care.