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SA Child Protection Dept to boost Indigenous staff

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The number of Aboriginal people working to stem the flow of children in care is set to double as part of a new State Government plan to better respond to the cultural needs of Aboriginal communities.

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The Department for Child Protection today announced it would aim to grow its Aboriginal workforce to 10 per cent – up from the current five per cent – by 2024 in line with an across-government push to better involve Aboriginal people in decision-making.

An additional 120 Aboriginal workers are needed to achieve that target, a goal the Department’s deputy chief Fiona Ward said is required to ensure the Government is “held accountable” for the provision of culturally safe services.

A report published by Guardian for Children and Young People Penny Wright in May showed the number of Aboriginal children in South Australia who were fostered by members of their extended family or community dropped by about 10 per cent in the past 10 years.

Data from the Report on Government Services shows that in June last year, Aboriginal children made up 33 per cent of South Australian children in out-of-home care.

That is despite Aboriginal children representing less than five per cent of the state’s total child population.

“Attracting and retaining Aboriginal employees is a vital part of the strategy to build our capacity to work with children and young people in care,” Ward said.

“We will be guided by some key principles including that Aboriginal children and young people must be central in child protection decision-making, that we have strategies in place to ensure we retain our current Aboriginal staff and attract more Aboriginal employees, and that we make sure that the whole department understands its responsibility in achieving good outcomes for Aboriginal children and their families.”

To help it achieve its 10 per cent Aboriginal employment goal, the Department has consulted with Aboriginal advisors to introduce a new “cultural learning program” , as well as a Reconciliation Action Plan.

The programs aim to better consult Aboriginal people in decision-making and ensure a more culturally sensitive workplace culture.

In December, Premier Steven Marshall released the first South Australian Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan, which outlined Aboriginal employment targets across most departments.

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