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3.4.7 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and Guidelines for the placement of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Last Modified: 15-Jun-2022 Review Date: 01-Oct-2017

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

When organising a placement arrangement for a child, it is imperative that the child's connections to family, community, traditions, and culture are supported as much as possible.

There are a number of principles in the Act which must be observed when making decisions about who a child in care should live with under a placement arrangement.

In addition, the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) requires specific considerations to be observed when making placement arrangements for Aboriginal children and children from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background. These are:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (s.12 of the Act ). 

This principle must be observed when making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child. The objective of this principle is to maintain a connection with family and culture for Aboriginal children who are the subject of a placement arrangements or interim orders made under section 133(2) care.  Applying this principle helps to ensure, wherever possible, the child's cultural and personal identity is supported through the promotion of family and community connection. For further information relating to the safety, stability, and connection promoted by family, kinship, community and others, see the Child Placement Principle Hierarchy (related resources)

Guidelines for placement of certain children (s.80 of the Act).  

The CaLD Placement Guidelines must be observed when making a placement arrangement for a child from a CaLD background.  The objective of the Guidelines is to preserve and enhance the child's cultural, ethnic, and religious identity.  See CaLD Placement Guidelines in Related Resources. 

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department). Throughout this entry, the term 'child' is referred to as inclusive of both children and young people.  

Note:  The term 'care arrangement' is often used in practice in preference to 'placement arrangement'.  However, because the Act uses 'placement arrangement', which means an arrangement under s.79(2) of the Act for the placement of a child with a person who will care for them, this entry uses 'placement arrangement' for legislative accuracy. 

Rules
When making a placement arrangement for a child you must always regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration and take into account the matters listed in s.8 of the Act when determining what is in the child's best interests.
  • The s.12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child placement principle must be observed (s.12):
    In making a decision about the placement of an Aboriginal child under a placement arrangement, any placement of the child must, so far as is consistent with the child's best interests and is otherwise practicable, be in accordance with the following order of priority:

    1. placement with a member of the child's family;

    2. placement with an Aboriginal person in the child's community in accordance with local customary practice;

    3. placement with an Aboriginal person who lives in close proximity to the child's community

    4. placement with either an Aboriginal person OR with a non-Aborginal person who –

      1. lives in close proximity to the child's community; and

      2. is responsive to the cultural support needs of the child and is willing and able to encourage and support the child to develop and maintain a connection with the culture and traditions of the child's family or community;

    5. placement with a non-Aboriginal person who is responsive to the cultural support needs of the child and is willing and able to encourage and support the child to develop and maintain a connection with the culture and traditions of the child's family or community. 

Certain consultation must occur before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child in care (s.81).

  • The CaLD Placement Guidelines must be observed (s.80):

    In making a decision about the placement of a CaLD child under a placement arrangement, any placement of the child must, so far as is consistent with the child's best interests and is otherwise practicable, be in accordance with the following order of priority:

  1. placement within the child's family of origin;

  2. placement with a carer from the same culture and religion; or

  3. placement with a carer who is accepting and respectful of the child's  specific cultural and religious needs.

Information and Instructions

  • Overarching principles regarding all children
  • Consultation requirements before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child – section 81.
  • Consultation requirements before making a placement arrangement for a child from a cultural and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background
  • Court reports
  • Overarching principles regarding all children

    Part 2 of the Act contains a number of other principles that must be observed when making decisions about a child under the Act, including when making a placement arrangement for a child.  

    Determining best interests of the child – section 8:

    To determine what is in the best interests of the child when making a placement arrangement, you must take into account the following:

      • the need to protect the child from harm

      • the nature of the child's relationship with the child's parents, siblings and other relatives and with any other people who are significant in the child's life

      • any wishes or views expressed by the child, having regard to the child's age and level of understanding in determining the weight given to those wishes or views

      • the importance of continuity and stability in the child's living arrangements and the likely effect on the child of disruption of those living arrangements, including separation from:

        • the child's parents

        • a sibling or other member of the child's family

        • a carer or other person (including a child) with whom the child is, or has recently been, living

        • other people significant in the child's life

      • the need for the child to develop and maintain contact with the child's parents, siblings and other members of the child's family and with other people who are significant in the child's life

      • the child's age, maturity, sex, sexuality, background and language

      • and the child's cultural, ethnic and religious identity (including the need for cultural support to develop and maintain a connection with the culture and traditions of the child's family or community)

      • the child's physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, developmental and educational needs

      • other relevant characteristics of the child.

    Other principles – section 9

    When organising a placement arrangement for a child, you must uphold the principles set out in s.9 of the Act, which include, but are not limited to, the following: 

    (a) the principle that the parents, family and community of a child have the primary role in safeguarding and promoting the child's wellbeing

    (c) the principle that every child should be cared for and protected from harm

    (d) the principle that every child should live in an environment free from violence

    (e) the principle that every child should have stable, secure and safe relationships and living arrangements

    (ea) the principle that every child should be treated as a valued member of society in a manner that respects the child's dignity and privacy

    (g) the principle that planning for the care of a child who is in the CEO's care should occur as soon as possible in order to promote long-term stability for the child and should, as soon as possible, include consideration of whether it is appropriate to work towards returning the child to the child's parents;

    (ga) the principle that objectives of planning for the care of a child who is in the CEO's care include the following —

    (i) to achieve continuity and stability in the child's living arrangements;

    (ii) to preserve and enhance the child's relationships with the child's family and with other people who are significant in the child's life (subject to protecting the child from harm and meeting the child's needs);

    (iii) for an Aboriginal child, Torres Strait Islander child or child of culturally or linguistically diverse background — to preserve and enhance the child's connection with the culture and traditions of the child's family or community

    (gb) the principle that objectives of planning for a placement arrangement for a child include, subject to protecting the child from harm and meeting the child's needs, the following —

    (i) to place the child with a member of the child's family;
    (ii) to place the child with the child's siblings (subject also to protecting the siblings from harm);

    (iii) to place the child with a person who is willing and able to encourage and support the child to develop and maintain contact with the child's parents, siblings and other members of the child's family and with other people who are significant in the child's life, subject to decisions under this Act about that contact.

    Refer to the Introduction to the Casework Practice Manual for a full list of principles included in the Act. 

    Subject to their age and level of understanding, children and young people must be provided the opportunity to participate in any important decisions affecting them, including planning their care and living arrangements. This includes providing them with adequate information in a manner and language that they understand.

    When making placement arrangement decisions, consider the wishes and views of the child, having regard to their age and level of understanding.  (This applies the Principle of child participation in s.10 of the Act.) 


    To uphold a child's connection to their family and community, where possible, placement arrangements with family members should be prioritised where it is safe to do so.  As noted in principle 9(gb) above, this includes keeping siblings together wherever possible. For further information, see Chapter 3.1 – Care Arrangements with a Family or Significant Other Carer and Chapter 3.4 – Placement of Siblings
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    Consultation requirements before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child – section 81.

    Before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child, you must consult with certain persons.  See Related Resources for a full copy of s.81.  As a matter of good practice, you must consult with the following:

    • Aboriginal members of the child's family; and
    • an Aboriginal officer of the Department who has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community.  This must be with the district Aboriginal Practice Leader, or an Aboriginal Practice Leader or other senior Aboriginal officer in the Specialist Child Protection Unit (SCPU).

    Additional consultion may also occur with:

    • an Aboriginal person who, in the opinion of the CEO, has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community. This could be an Elder. 
    • an Aboriginal agency that has relevant knowledge of the child, the child's family or the child's community.  

    To observe the principle of self-determination (s.13) in respect of Aboriginal people and Torres Straight Islanders, you must consult with members of the child's Aboriginal family in the first instance, to identify possible family placement arrangements.

    For further information, including assessment of family as carers, see Chapter 3.1 – Family or Significant Other Care.



    Consultation is critical to ensure that the voice of family is heard when placement arrangements are made for Aboriginal children.  It is vital in present-day practice that connection to family and culture is supported and maintained by adhering to the Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. 

    The child's cultural and personal identity should be supported in all placement circumstances.  


    In some instances, sensitivity and kinship relationships may influence the involvement of an Aboriginal Practice Leader.  In these situations, it may not be appropriate for a district Aboriginal Practice Leader to be involved in consultation about the child's placement arrangement. You should consult with, and seek advice, from another district Aboriginal Practice Leader or other senior Aboriginal officer in SCPU if a perceived conflict of interest has been identified.

    In consultation with the Aboriginal Practice Leader, an Aboriginal organisation may be identified for consultation and advice. The consultation process with the Aborignal organisation may  provide you with information related to:

      • the child's family
      • extended family
      • kinship relationships
      • the child's cultural identity and skin group
      • local culturally sensitive supports and services, and  
      • other important information.

    Consultation with a district Aboriginal Practice Leader, or an Aboriginal Practice Leader or other senior Aboriginal officer in SCPU who has relevant knowledge of the child, child’s family or child’s community must occur before making any placement arrangement for an Aborignal child.  


    You should refer to the Aboriginal Cultural Plan Prompt List (in related resources) which may help in gathering information that assists in responding appropriately to the cultural needs of Aboriginal children.
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    Consultation requirements before making a placement arrangement for a child from a cultural and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background

    In cases involving children from CaLD backgrounds, the child's specific cultural, language and religious needs must be considered. When making a placement arrangement, the child's parents and/or extended family's views should be sought regarding the child's cultural, language and religious needs.  Where this is not possible, engagement with a community or religious leader or Elder should occur after obtaining written consent from the child's parents or guardians. Alternatively, parents or guardians may request the involvement of community and religious leaders or Elders of their own choosing.

    Advice from the Principal Policy and Planning Officer, Cultural Diversity in SCPU can be sought where necessary.   

    The consultation process and advice will assist you to apply the CaLD Placement Guidelines and to explore, understand, and support the child's: 

      • cultural and religious identity 
      • kinship relationships and community essential to the child's connection to culture, Country, and tradition
      • engagement with local culturally sensitive supports and services, and 
      • other cultural needs and supports, including in the preparation of the child's Cultural Support Plan (CSP). 

    Where a person has difficulty understanding or communicating in English or has a disabilty which prevents or restricts their understanding of, or participation in, a decision-making process or the expression of their wishes or views, as far as practicable, the services of an interpreter or other appropriate person are to be made availabe to assist (Principle 9(l) of the Act).

    For further information, see Chapter 4.2 – Language Services Booking and Payment.


    Cultural Support Planning

    A CSP is a written plan about arrangements for developing and maintaining  the child's connection with the culture and traditions of the family or community (s.89A). For further information, see Chapter 3.4 – Cultural Support Planning


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    Court reports

    When preparing a s.143 'written proposal' for the Court in relation to a protection application for an Aboriginal child, you must outline the steps you have taken to place the child in accordance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle hierarchy, and the consultation that has occurred or will occur in relation to the child's placement arrangement, as required under s.81.   

    Also, you must outline the steps taken to place a CaLD child in accordance with the CaLD Placement Guidelines.

    See Chapter 3.3 – Written proposal to Court.

    After hours consultation process

    When placement arrangements are made after hours by the Crisis Care Unit, you must consult with the senior Aboriginal officer on call. Record the consultation on Form 457 Notification of afterhours consultation with an Aboriginal Officer in Related Resources. Scan and email the form to the relevant district Aboriginal Practice Leader with the on call Aboriginal officer CC'd. The Aboriginal Practice Leader will quality assure that the consultation is recorded correctly. Ensure a copy of the consultation is saved to the child's casefile.

    Recording

    Record all consultations (internal and external) in the child's case plan in Assist using the actions drop-down list on the main case plan screen. If more than one consultation has occurred, ensure each is recorded on the main case plan screen, Refer to Assist User Guides – Case Plan Consultation in related resources for further information.

    When working with an Aboriginal child, ensure you record the placement type in Assist in the 'Living Arrangement' screen, under 'ATSI Child Placement Principle'. 

    The District Director should approve all care arrangements.

    Once approved update living arrangement in Assist and indicate the s81 consultation has occurred and the Placement type. 

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