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Aboriginal children


... by Indigenous peoples over the past two centuries is truly brought home. ... View Aboriginal films/TV shows. Their participation in Cultural/sporting events ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Aboriginal children

Aboriginal childrens wellbeing and the role of
culture Outcomes of an Australian research
project into measurements and assessment tools
for Aboriginal and Islander children
  • Ms Jane Harrison Aboriginal Research Officer,
    School of Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe
    University, Take Two and the Victorian Aboriginal
    Child Care Agency (VACCA)
  • E-mail j.harrison_at_latrobe.edu.au
  • Investigators Margarita Frederico, La Trobe
    University, Muriel Bamblett VACCA, Annette
    Jackson Take Two,
  • Sue Anne Hunter and Peter Lewis VACCA

What was the project?
  • Funded by AIATSIS and managed by
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
  • La Trobe University and
  • Take Two, a mainstream child and family welfare
    and child mental health agency
  • Aim To develop a culturally sensitive framework
    and tools to accurately and sensitively describe
    the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal
    children who have experienced significant abuse
    and/or neglect

What was the project?
  • Many of the current psychological measures are
    western based and dont tap into an Aboriginal
    cultural value system - things like identity,
    relationships within family and community,
    sharing, obligations to others, taking
    responsibility, etc - the things that are
    important to us as Aboriginal people. Aboriginal
  • Historically assessed using measures which
  • Culture Beliefs Connection to community
    and place
  • Spirituality Individual experiences.
  • A lack of culture and connectedness is a risk
    factor for Aboriginal children

The context of Aboriginal children in Victoria
  • Intergenerational trauma due to
  • Colonisation
  • Stolen Generations
  • Assimilation
  • Racism
  • Institutionalisation
  • Poverty and other forms of disadvantage
  • While the physical health data tell a
    damning-enough story, it is in the broad arena of
    psychological and social health that the
    devastation experienced by Indigenous peoples
    over the past two centuries is truly brought
    home. (Penman, 2006, p. 28)

Over representation in child protection
  • 10 of the number of CP clients (1 of Victorian
  • 12 times more likely to be in out of home care
    (DHS, 2006).
  • 57.0 of Victoria's Indigenous population are lt
    25 years. (cp 39.0 in the non-Indigenous
  • 3.0 (12.0 non-Indigenous) gt 65 years (AAV,

  • Action research with a focus upon engaging
    Aboriginal and nonAboriginal practitioners and
    policy makers.
  • A synthesis of findings from
  • The literature
  • Qualitative analysis of existing measures and
    assessment approaches
  • Interviews with 24 informants from Aboriginal
    and non Aboriginal organisations
  • Validation of the findings via focus groups and
    the project reference group.

Key findings literature review
  • Western definitions think of the child in terms
    of physical and emotional wellness and forget the
    importance of cultural and social connectedness.
    Non Aboriginal worker
  • Spirituality for any child is important.
    Aboriginal worker
  • Dearth of research into
  • Aboriginal children, including their wellbeing
  • Assessment tools or outcome measures
  • Wellbeing into children in out-of-home-care
  • The Aboriginal childs perspective
  • Cultural connection and spirituality was

Key findings
  • Some child protection workers say were
    culturally aware but they have no real
    understanding of the need for connection the
    childs Aboriginality is seen as peripheral
    rather than core. Non Aboriginal worker
  • Organisational and worker cultural competence
  • Engagement and forming positive relationships
  • A lack of engagement prevents children
    benefiting from services.

  • The relationship you form with them is the first
    thing, and without that you wont get anything
    from them. You need to establish their safety and
    think about the settings and situations in which
    you engage. Aboriginal worker
  • Where you engage Professional boundaries
  • Approach as equals qualification are not
  • Aboriginal person to vouch Be flexible
  • No jargon Open ended questions what
  • Gender issues Eye contact Literacy
  • Cultural triggers Work with local
  • Bear in mind your blissful ignorance

Key findings
  • Improving their wellbeing is a process of
    facilitating attachment to extended family and
    community. Aboriginal worker
  • It is a key change when they are strong in
    culture. Aboriginal worker
  • Sometimes we are the only Aboriginal person they
    know. Aboriginal worker
  • Children without a connection to their culture
    are denied their heritage.
  • The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle
    mandates for cultural connection.
  • Cultural work not always defined.

Aboriginal Childrens Cultural Needs
Personal identity
Ext. family, community, clan
Cul values, beliefs, practices
Aboriginal childrens cultural needs
Country/ land
Cultural expression, events
Developing a measure
  • Workers might say the child doesnt identify
    without understanding why that might be so.
    Culture is viewed is a tack on. It is not seen
    as central for the child. Non Aboriginal worker
  • Cultural Yarn
  • Primary school aged children and older
  • Uses appropriate domains and language
  • Measures their perceptions and attitudes towards
    their Aboriginality

Cultural Yarn - domains
  • Whether they call themselves Aboriginal
  • Who their mob is
  • Where they are from
  • Totem
  • How much they know about Aboriginal culture
  • Whether they speak Koori English or language

Cultural Yarn - domains
  • Whether they listen to Aboriginal music/play
  • View Aboriginal films/TV shows
  • Their participation in Cultural/sporting events
  • Whether they eat traditional foods
  • Go back to traditional country

Cultural Yarn - domains
  • Whether they have Aboriginal friends
  • Whether they have non-Aboriginal friends
  • Whether they know an Aboriginal Elder
  • Whether they have an Aboriginal mentor or role
  • How close they are to that person

Cultural Yarn - domains
  • Whether they have a grown up who puts them first
  • If that person is Aboriginal
  • Whether they would bring up their own kids with
  • If they feel connected to their Aboriginal
  • How they feel about being Aboriginal

  • Resilience equals culture. Non Indigenous
    organizations dont seem to realize its
    importance. Or they see culture as something
    dead, up in the Territory, but not here in an
    urban setting. Aboriginal worker

  • You might not achieve wellbeing but are able to
    work towards it. Aboriginal worker
  • I would appreciate having more understanding
    on how to best measure and document a childs
    social and emotional wellbeing. Non Aboriginal
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