Building ‘Aboriginal evidence’ into mainstream service delivery in child welfare

CEI has been supporting the design and implementation of the Family Preservation and Reunification (FPR) Response across Victoria since 2020. This statewide reform aims to provide earlier intervention and support for children and families in contact with the Child Protection system and prevent children entering out-of-home care. Over the last 6 months, CEI has worked with project partners to design Practice Modules for the FPR Response. These modules are made up of:

  • Practice Elements, which are practice techniques identified via scientific literature
  • Cultural Practice Elements, which are leading practices for working with Aboriginal families based on the practice wisdom of Aboriginal practitioners and community. The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) developed these Cultural Practice Elements in partnership with CEI.

Aboriginal families are over-represented in the Child Protection and out-of-home-care systems in Victoria, so it was critical for the Response to ensure Aboriginal families receive a service that is culturally safe, prioritises their self-determination and is informed by the trauma caused by the ongoing impacts of colonisation. In this groundbreaking approach, methods for identifying key cultural practices have been used alongside methodology to identify practices from scientific literature. This has resulted in the development of two modules that integrate Practice Elements and Cultural Practice Elements. These modules focus on engaging families and preparing them for a change process - both of which are foundational to all work across human services. These two modules equip practitioners to work alongside families, develop a relationship of trust, and support them to build and sustain their own motivation for change.

An integrated training package has also been designed for the modules and is co-delivered by CEI and VACCA staff. So far, over five hundred practitioners working in Community Services Organisation (CSOs) and Aboriginal Community-controlled Organisations (ACCOs) have completed the foundation module training with a further thirty-four training events planned throughout 2022.

This flagship project is one of several where CEI is partnering with VACCA to build an Aboriginal evidence base and document ‘what works’ in practice for Aboriginal communities in a way that can be used by all practitioners working with Aboriginal families.

Read more about our work supporting the Response here. Watch our common practice elements animation for further information on our approach to design and implementation.