Three Aboriginal community-controlled organisations have been announced as the beneficiaries of a $3 million program that shifts responsibility for kinship carer support from the Child Protection Department to the non-government sector.
Aboriginal Family Support Services, InComPro and KWY have been recruited by the department to take control of support services for kinship carers of Aboriginal children over the next two years.
Kinship carers are people who care for children who are either related to them, or who have a relationship with the child, their family or community.
In South Australia, about 63 per cent of Aboriginal children in care are placed in kinship arrangements.
That figure is markedly lower than what was recorded 10 years ago, when 74 per cent of Aboriginal children were placed with members of their extended family or community.
South Australia’s uptake of kinship care has prompted concern from advocates including the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Guardian for Children and Young People, who argue more needs to be done to increase the number of Aboriginal children being placed with their kin.
As part of the Government’s new $3 million program, the organisations will be required to provide carer training, connect carers with Aboriginal communities and refer carers to trauma, health and education services.
Aboriginal Family Support Services chief executive Sharron Williams said Aboriginal children and young people who can’t be with their birth families should be with their kin.
“We believe strongly in keeping families together and that includes keeping Aboriginal children and young people connected to their wider families, their community and their culture,” she said.
“This program will help Aboriginal children and young people to know where they come from, who they are and who their family are, and will help set them up for life with a strong sense of identity and belonging.”
InComPro chief executive Steven Newchurch said children would be able to develop stronger links with their family and history if they were connected to their culture.
“This will help the young people to have a sense of pride, self-worth and dignity in themselves, their culture and community,” he said.
Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson said children had a right to be connected to their culture.
“More than half of Aboriginal children in care live with kinship carers and these carers play an absolutely critical role in developing and maintaining these connections,” she said.