The West Australian government on Tuesday announced its new plan to address the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home through a new partnership between its foster care agency, local Aboriginal communities and community-controlled organistions.
WA's Department of Communities will consult the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) and local Aboriginal communities to develop a new "action plan", said the state's Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk.
“That road map will guide future efforts to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care," she said in a written statement.
In Western Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up more than 55 per cent of children in the state's care.
The new plan aims to identify opportunities to prevent Indigenous kids from entering the foster care system prematurely, as well as provide a new focus on supporting Aboriginal youths transitioning out of state care and into adulthood, said the minister.
SNAICC's chief, Professor Muriel Bamblett, told NITV News the focus of the partnership will be to put the community first and give Aboriginal organisations more say.
“In other states and territories there’s a real push towards having Aboriginal community-controlled organisations running our home care but also running family support and early intervention programs,” said Ms Bamblett.
“We see greater results when we see Aboriginal people running child protection systems.”
Currently, the only Aboriginal-controlled foster care agency in Western Australia is, Yorganop.
The Perth-based organisation welcomed the government's new commitment and said it supports the plan.
"[This initiative] is driven by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people and it will capture their voice," said Yorganop's executive manager, Elizabeth Cramer.
The WA government signed onto SNAICC’s national initiative, ‘Family Matters- Kids Safe in Culture, Not in Care’, which aims to break the traumatic cycle of Indigenous child removal and halve the number of children in out-of-home care.
Ms McGurk also announced a review into WA foster care's recruitment, assessment, and support processes more broadly.
The minister said the government hopes to introduce changes to how carers, families and caseworkers work together by early 2020.