Promoting and maintaining family connections and cultural identity
Maintaining connections to family, land and culture helps Aboriginal children understand their family and community relationships, and maintain a strong sense of who they are and where they belong. These things are critical to self-esteem and well-being. Carers have a crucial role in keeping children connected to family and culture.
It is widely recognised that better outcomes are achieved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to them.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle
All states and territories make reference to placement principles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children either in legislation, policy, or regulations. The goal of the Principle is to enhance and preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's connection to family, community and sense of identity and culture by
- Recognising and protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, family members and communities in child welfare matters
- Promoting self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in child welfare matters
- Reducing the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system
The placement principles provide information about who should care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The order of priority for placement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children when they can’t live with their parents in descending order is
- within family and kinship networks
- non-related Aboriginal carers in the child's community
- carers in another Aboriginal community
If no other suitable placement with Aboriginal carers can be found, children are placed with non-Indigenous carers as per state specific guidelines, and provided they are able to maintain the child's connections to family, community and cultural identity. States and Territories have specific guidelines setting out the hierarchy of steps required to meet the Placement Principles.
Fundamental to the Principle is the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the knowledge and experience to make the best decisions concerning their children.