It is a privilege to walk alongside a child and support them to thrive.
As a foster carer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children you have an opportunity to support children and young people in having positive life experiences that are culturally, socially, and emotionally safe. In doing so, foster carers have a chance to learn, live and celebrate Aboriginal culture in their everyday life, creating an environment where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people can be strong in their culture and identity.
Foster carers from all backgrounds can help care for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children. You will be offered extra training and support to increase your knowledge of Aboriginal culture, so you are best placed to care for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child and support them to explore and learn about their culture and cultural connections.
Maintaining these connections with family, Country and culture are vital in building identity as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for children and young people in care. When children and young people in care experience a positive connection to their culture, community, and identity, they then have greater opportunities to thrive during their care experience and in their future.
Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations
An Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) is an agency run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their own community who provide services including foster care.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people have a right to know their own family and culture. That’s why Aboriginal community representatives are consulted and involved in the decision making regarding the care arrangements for Aboriginal children and young people. This is called the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle.
When children and carers are with an ACCO, these services are delivered in a way that is culturally safe for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Models of care are often holistic, meaning they take into account a range of needs, including health, education, and a child’s need to have emotional and spiritual connections to their community.
The following ACCOs deliver Foster Care in Victoria:
- Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative
- Mallee District Aboriginal Services
- Njernda Aboriginal Corporation
- Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative
- Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative
- Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
Frequently Asked Questions
Helping maintain connection is individual to the child or young person, but may include:
- Prioritising activities and relationships that keep them connected to their Aboriginal identity
- Understanding your responsibilities under the child or young person’s cultural plan, their rights as Aboriginal children and young people in foster care, and their family’s rights in decision making
- Being aware of significant cultural events, cultural needs, and attending ongoing training, reading, and learning.
A culturally safe environment is one that will enable and encourage an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child or young person to identify with, and be proud of their culture, because their carer’s family recognises and values their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity.
Caring for an Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander child or young person is an opportunity for you to gain more information and skills, so they will thrive. Both of you can share a journey of learning and understanding more about culture and communities. This is an ideal way of making the child or young person and your family feel comfortable and respectful of each other, and get the placement off to a good start.
Prospective foster carers can choose any agency within their local government area, this can be a Community Service Organisation or an ACCO. If you are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, you are not required to foster children from your community. However, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander foster carers have specific knowledge and unique understanding of culture that can benefit children and young people in their care.
ACCOs are Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations who deliver a range of holistic services to their community, in a way that values and promotes Aboriginal culture. ACCOs work alongside families, focusing on forming trusting and respectful relationships, building on carers strengths and supporting children to grow and thrive in their culture.
ACCO staff listen to families and involve them in decisions that affect their lives, with conversations done in a loving way, like family would. When working with an ACCO, carers receive support from Aboriginal staff to keep their children’s connection to Country, culture and Community strong for the duration of their court order and beyond.
A cultural plan an additional plan written when an Aboriginal child or young person is placed in foster care. The plan is a comprehensive record of the child and young person’s Aboriginal cultural information, cultural journey, and sets out the intentions for the period covered aligned with case plan, to maintain and develop the child and young person’s Aboriginal identity; and encourage connection to their Aboriginal community and culture.