• Tribal Warrior CEO and Redfern local Shane Phillips (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Members of a newly created Aboriginal Knowledge Circle, which will advise the NSW Government on matters surrounding kids in out of home care, say they hope they will make a difference to Indigenous children and families.
Keira Jenkins

8 Jul 2020 - 5:13 PM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2020 - 5:22 PM

The NSW Government has responded to last year's Family is Culture report after months of lobbying from Indigenous organisations and peak bodies in the out of home care sector.

NSW Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister Gareth Ward said the voice of Aboriginal people was "at the heart" of the response.

"Our response to the Family is Culture report will lay a foundation for the way forward as we work hard to keep children with their parents and reduce the number of kids coming into care," he said.

The State Government's response to the report includes the establishment of an 'Aboriginal Knowledge Circle', which will advise Mr Ward.

'Invest in our families'

Senior medical practitioner Professor Ngaire Brown, Aboriginal health and child protection sector specialist Associate Professor Dea Delaney-Thiele, and CEO of Tribal Warrior Shane Phillips will all become members of the state government's new Knowledge Circle initiative.

Mr Phillips said he doesn't want the role to mean just advising the Minister, but involve real impact.

"I don't want to be part of a talkfest," he told NITV News. "This is a lot of responsibility, we know it's going to be tough, but we also know this is a chance to make some impact.

"We don't want to just talk among ourselves, we want to talk to as many mob as possible and bring them along with us."

Mr Phillips said he hopes his new role will make a difference for Indigenous families in NSW.

"I don't want to do my community injustice," he said. "We have to show the impact of our communities and invest in our families."

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'Recommendations ignored'

A representative from AbSec, the peak body for Aboriginal children in NSW, and a Deputy Children's Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People will also be included in the advisory group. 

The Aboriginal Deputy Children's Guardian will also be commissioned to independently review the issues raised by Professor Megan Davis in the Family is Culture review, and is expected to hand down its findings by the end of June, 2021.

The Family is Culture review made 125 recommendations to the NSW Government in October last year.

Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Justice David Shoebridge said the NSW Government's response to the Family is Culture review is a "wasted opportunity" to keep Aboriginal families together.

"The final response ignores really important recommendations like a new child protection commission and essential changes to law that will keep Aboriginal families together," he said.

"First Nations communities know best how to strengthen their families and their input is essential if reforms are going to deliver any real change.

"The Family is Culture report itself recognised that there has been report after report where recommendations to fix the system are ignored."

Mr Shoebridge said the response from the NSW Government was not good enough, especially now, during a time of renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.

 "A ministerial advisory circle, a rebranded Ombudsman and the promise of potential future practice changes will not make a singe child safer tonight," he said.

"Being taken away from your family and being placed in out of home care is one of the main drivers of juvenile and then adult incarceration.

"Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated people on the planet."

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