A child lost in bureaucracy in Central Australia’s tri-state child protection services
When a three-year-old was taken into non-Aboriginal foster care, child protection began looking for kinship care. Kinship care is the best outcome for children removed from their parents – it keeps children safe and connected to family and culture.
The child’s grandmother expressed great interest in being the kinship carer. The grandmother contacted NPY Women’s Council to help her understand the process. Navigating beaurocratic systems is always complicated but this is compounded when English is not a first language.
The process became increasingly complicated as the grandmother lived in a different state to her grand-daughter. The family lived in Central Australia at the tri-state junction of NT, SA & WA. During this time the child’s parents also moved across borders throwing the case into a complex limbo across states.
While constantly monitoring and supporting the grandmother seeking to gain care of her grandchild, massive delays occurred due to changes in case direction across states, the difficulty of completing carer assessments across borders, non-transferability of carer assessments, time-lag in transferring the case via the interstate liaison process, the timing out of assessments and delays in probity checks and housing checks. This all amounted to a two year delay in the placement of the child with her family and culture.
These administrative issues also meant that the child had no potential to be re-united with her parent either, even if their situation and ability to parent improved.
NPYWC Child & Family Wellbeing Service consistently advocated for the kinship assessment process to continue, despite the complexities to ensure the young person’s connection to language, culture and country continued. The grandmother was successfully assessed as a kinship carer and the child returned to her family and community in July 2022.
NPYWC will continue to advocate for a cross border Child Protection Framework to ensure that all children in need remain with their family and community, and heartbreak for both child and family is lessened.