• GMAR have been active for a number of years and have had some successes when it comes to getting governments to recognising the importance of kinship care . (AAP)Source: AAP
The peak body for Aboriginal children in NSW says the state government's response to last year's damning Family is Culture report into Aboriginal children in out of home care 'ignores essential reforms'.
Keira Jenkins

15 Jul 2020 - 10:15 AM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2020 - 10:17 AM

The peak body for Aboriginal children in New South Wales says the state government's "long overdue" response to last year's Family is Culture review is inadequate.

AbSec chairperson Dana Clarke said the NSW government's response to the review was a mix of good and bad, with some initiatives being re-announced. 

"A three and a half page response to a 490 page report, it's a bit inadequate," she told NITV News last week.

"It hasn't had input from communities and families, and it has reference to self-determination but no explanation of what that might look like."

Ms Clarke questioned whether the government had heard "what was being asked", but welcomed the appointment of the Aboriginal Deputy Children's Guardian, one of the recommendations in the review. 

The Family is Culture review outlined the over-representation of Indigenous children in out of home care in NSW and made 125 recommendations to government, the majority of which remain unaddressed.

'Punitive without being innovative'

Ms Clarke said she was also concerned about the decision to delay legislative changes that AbSec believes would safeguard Aboriginal children and promote steps to support families.

The laws are subject to a review in 2024, which Ms Clarke said, based on current rates of removal, would mean over 2000 more Aboriginal children would be in the  out of home care system before the review even begins.

She said government needs to do better and described the government's response as "a bit wishy-washy".

"There's things [in it] like, 'Better core processes and stronger case work policies and practices' ... well, what does that mean? There seems to be a lot of measures that are punitive without being innovative," she said

Ms Clarke also raised concerns about the Aboriginal Knowledge Circle that would advise the Minister for Children and Families, Gareth Ward, which a representative from AbSec is part of.

She said the knowledge circle won't have power to make change unless the minister truly listens to its advice.

"My concern is where that information goes," she said.

"I'd like to know what's getting through, how the information is being used. What is the knowledge circle going to do?

"I'd like to see government really hearing the voices and doing something."

'Chance to make impact': New Aboriginal Knowledge Circle to focus on kids in care in NSW
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.