Since 2014 NPY Women’s Council has been self-funding a Child Advocacy position driven by high demand of requests from families in the NPY Lands for support in understanding child protection issues. Anangu families were struggling to traverse language barriers, understand legal processes and fund travel to visit children placed in care.
Many families were feeling confused, overwhelmed and disempowered.
This work by the NPYWC Child & Family Wellbeing Service (CFWS) has now been recognised. While the CFWS will continues to self-fund this position, a Territory Families Out of Home Care Grant has allowed the CFWS to create a second position. These roles will support families seek reunification, find kinship carers and negotiate the Child Protection system.
“We are very happy to be able to increase our capacity. We are under a huge demand from remote families for this service.” said Shelagh Woods CFWS Manager. “These roles are a one of a kind in Australia and provide a pivotal interface between child protection agencies and families. “
This position will operate across NT, SA & WA boarders, assisting in what has been difficult terrain for families with children placed under care and protection orders within different statutory jurisdictions. Due to highly mobile living situations, families may find they are dealing with several agencies across states and finding children placed in out of home care in a different state far from the NPY Lands. It has been confusing and at times, devastating for families. Families have been having trouble maintaining access to children in care due to significant travel logistics and costs.
This service takes a rights based approach and commits to the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, that children are best placed within family, community and culture. From this perspective, the CFWS looks to support reunification and kinship care in remote communities. Due to a lack of remote services, families may not be able to access programs that work on behavioral changes required of child protection authorities and reunification plans. Remote areas may also experience a lack of capacity from child protection bodies or other services to support supervised access visits. The CFWS Child Advocacy roles also advocate for interpreters in child protection communication and court processes and spend additional time assisting families understand child protection processes and requirements.
This position will work closely with the NT communities of Kaltukatjara (Docker River), Mutitjulu, Imanpa and Aputula (Finke) and include a broader tristate focus.