Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020)

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

i Contents Contents Foreword ii Executive summary 1 The story so far … 8 Acknowledging our history 8 A focus on improving outcomes 9 Planning the next steps 10 Government commitments 13 Section 1: Parenting and the early years 15 What are our shared aspirations? 18 Victoria’s targets 19 How Aboriginal parents and children are faring 19 What Victoria is doing 26 Future directions 31 Section 2: Growing up as strong young people 33 What are our shared aspirations? 35 Victoria’s targets 36 How Aboriginal young people are faring 37 What Victoria is doing 43 Future directions 47 Section 3: Families, culture and community 49 What are our shared aspirations? 51 How Aboriginal families and communities are faring 53 What Victoria is doing 58 Future directions 60 Section 4: Services that work for Aboriginal families 61 What are our shared aspirations? 65 How the service system is working 65 What Victoria is doing 69 Future directions 73 Next steps 73 References 75 Appendix 78 Consultation methodology 78 Governance 79 Acknowledgements 80 Key Acronyms 81 Key definitions 81

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

ii Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Foreword The Victorian Aboriginal communityand the Victorian Government share a common aim: that Aboriginal children and young people have the best start in life, are able to succeed in school, and grow into capable, active adults. There are around 33,500 Victorian Aboriginal people and close to half that number is represented by Aboriginal children and young people aged under 18. Most Aboriginal households include children and the number of children is expected to rise.

The Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework (VIAF) was established in 2006 and is the policy base for whole-of-government reforms to improve the quality of life experienced by Indigenous Victorians and reduce the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians. Major priorities include improving maternal and child health, early childhood development and educational outcomes for younger Aboriginal Victorians. In 2008, Aboriginal leaders and the Victorian Government jointly released Dardee Boorai: Victorian Charter of Safety and Wellbeing for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

Dardee Boorai broke new ground in framing the Victorian Government and the broader community’s commitment to improved outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people within a human rights framework, particularly the Victorian Charter of Human Rights. It also signalled the development of a 10-year plan to put these commitments and principles into practice. Balert Boorron: the Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) delivers on this commitment. Despite areas of improvement, there are difficulties that continue to confront Aboriginal families and impact on their children’s chances.

The State of Victoria’s Children 2009: Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria provides a comprehensive account of the safety, health, development, learning and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people and their families. The report’s unprecedented evidence base has been a key input into Balert Boorron, which means ‘strong child’ in Wathaurong language. Equally important have been the views generously provided by Aboriginal young people, families, communities and agencies. The plan has also drawn upon commissioned research and has been shaped by the expertise of members of the Aboriginal Children and Families Advisory Committee and the Premier’s Aboriginal Advisory Council.

Balert Boorron is being released at a time of national commitment to closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, and a growing consensus between Aboriginal communities and governments about how to achieve this. It reflects the positive feelings about the future that Aboriginal families and young people articulated during the consultation. It supports the creativity and hope of the next generation of first Australians. Young Aboriginal Victorians are at the centre of the plan and their voices resonate throughout.

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

iii Foreword The plan starts by outlining the challenges faced by parents of young children and how the Government and the community can together support them in caring and providing opportunities for their young children. It pays equal attention to the school years and adolescence, and to the pathways that will guide young people to become creative, capable adults, confident in their Aboriginality and able to participate on equal terms in an increasingly globalised world. To achieve these shared goals, Balert Boorron looks to the strengths of Aboriginal families, culture and communities and to the strengths of the services and organisations developed by the Victorian community and Government. Continuing to build these strengths will underpin Victoria’s capacity to reach the stated targets in crucial areas of safety, health, development, learning and wellbeing. Recognising and acknowledging disadvantage allows the Government to focus on improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and their families. Balert Boorron sets out directions while respecting Aboriginal culture and the right of Aboriginal people to shape economic, education, health and justice policy.

Hon Rob Hulls MP Deputy Premier Chair, Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs Hon Daniel Andrews MP Minister for Health Ms Jill Gallagher Chair, Aboriginal Children and Families Advisory Committee Member, Premier’s Aboriginal Advisory Council Hon Maxine Morand MP Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Hon Lisa Neville Minister for Community Services Hon Bronwyn Pike MP Minister for Education Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation Hon Richard Wynne MP Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

1 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Executive summary Balert Boorron reaffirms the Victorian Government and the community’s shared commitment to work in partnership to improve outcomes for Aboriginal families, children and young people. The plan has been developed in consultation and partnership. It sets out the directions for future action by Government, and by Aboriginal organisations and communities, putting the principles and commitments of Dardee Boorai into effect.

Rationale The plan has been prepared because Aboriginal children are a growing and important group of Victorian children, whose history and family circumstances means that they require particular attention. The State of Victoria’s Children 2009 confirmed that while Aboriginal children’s outcomes are similar to those of other children across some important measures, too many Aboriginal children are faring significantly worse and could be left behind as the living standards and opportunities of most Victorians continue to rise.

Many Aboriginal families are managing precariously, often experiencing repeated life stressors, making it hard for parents – many of whom are raising children alone, often with limited support from overstretched families – to care effectively for their children. For some it is too hard, leaving a disturbingly high proportion of Aboriginal children in need of care or protection. It is possible to reduce the burdens faced by Aboriginal families. In some important areas the situation is improving, and the Victorian Government has already committed to further improvement. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has made explicit commitments to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, and the Victorian Government has set targets for improvement within the VIAF. Over half of all Aboriginal people in Victoria are under the age of 25, providing Victoria with an unprecedented opportunity to draw on the resilience of Aboriginal culture and the potential of children and young people to break the cycle of disadvantage, and to work towards a stronger and healthier community.

Preparation of the plan Balert Boorron has been prepared drawing upon, and responding to, new data on the safety, health, development, learning and wellbeing of Victorian Aboriginal children, young people and their families. This evidence base was supported and extended through a commissioned literature review and expert papers. Some papers were targeted to fill known data gaps, while others provided an overview from an Aboriginal perspective. The plan has also been informed by extensive input and advice from families, parents and young people as well as from key Aboriginal organisations. Consultation through targeted group discussions was conducted throughout 2009 to capture the views of Aboriginal parents and young people. Executive summary

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

2 Executive summary Forums and workshops were conducted with Aboriginal young people, including a three-day Digital Storytelling workshop in partnership with the Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council (VIYAC) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. In addition, meetings were held with staff at a number of key Aboriginal organisations and relevant program areas across the Victorian Government. Major needs emerging from consultation were for: • early intervention and holistic support for families, with increased support for young parents, single parents and fathers • engaging children and young people in education and training, with a focus on supporting young people through transitions and when they are most vulnerable • strengthening connection to culture and building pride in cultural identity • addressing racism and discrimination in all its forms • ensuring the provision of a culturally safe, cohesive service system for Aboriginal families, children and young people. Some of the most powerful suggestions for the plan came from Aboriginal young people themselves and their voices have given shape to the plan’s future directions.

From aspiration to action Balert Boorron outlines the improvements sought by Aboriginal families and communities as well as by the Victorian Government – to close the gap in those areas that currently limit Aboriginal children. The first two sections of the plan focus on the two stages of childhood. • The early years of life, where capable parenting is needed to give children the best start in life, and for which the Victorian Government has set targets to close the gap in seven areas. • During the school years and into adulthood, where adolescence and independence produce new challenges to young people successfully completing school and building careers. The Victorian Government has set targets to close the gap in six areas over these years.

The next two sections focus on the underpinnings of action in these years. • The cultural and community context in which Aboriginal families raise their children, recognising both the positive opportunities offered and the negative experiences of racism and discrimination. These are of primary importance to the community. • Shaping the service system, including schools, so that they work for Aboriginal families. Leading the development of these systems is a major way in which the Government can influence outcomes.

Each section of the plan starts by setting out the shared aspirations of Government and the community – in broad terms, what we hope and plan to see at the end of the next 10 years – placing them in the context of relevant Dardee Boorai principles and government targets of COAG and the VIAF, as well as reflecting views gathered through consultation. Each section then examines the current situation, presenting key data to illuminate the challenges facing Victoria. Current initiatives and new strategies being put in place are then reviewed. Finally, each section considers the future directions that government and communities should pursue, and lists actions for consideration over the life of the plan.

Executive summary

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

3 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Balert Boorron: the Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020) Section 1: Parenting and the early years The first section of the plan aims to support Aboriginal children and families to enjoy culturally rich and vibrant home environments. It is about promoting and creating the conditions for Aboriginal children to grow up in homes with parents and families who are healthy, happy and confident in their parenting abilities, as well as strong in their culture.

Our shared aspirations are that: • babies will be born healthy • parents will be capable, confident and supported • young children will be given opportunities to learn and thrive. Recent evidence shows some areas of progress. For example, fewer babies are born with a low birth weight, and there is higher use of maternal and child health services and rate of participation in kindergarten. However, there remain significant gaps compared with the general population. Over half of Aboriginal children and young people are living in single parent families, and mothers are more likely to be teenagers than the general population when giving birth. Aboriginal families experience higher rates of multiple life stressors than other families. There is a high rate of substantiated child abuse, affecting one in seven babies during the first year of life.

The following future directions will guide our efforts to realise our shared aspirations and meet Victorian targets in this area. So that babies will be born healthy, we will work together to: •  improve services to ensure that all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality and culturally safe antenatal care and support through pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period, with particular focus on the first trimester of pregnancy and reducing smoking during pregnancy •  sustain efforts to ensure that all Aboriginal children and families have maternal and child health service contact and more targeted support as needed in the first few years of life.

So parents are capable, confident and supported, we will work together to: •  promote access to culturally appropriate parenting programs promoting resilience, particularly for young and first-time parents, and increase the engagement of Aboriginal fathers and men •  support families to adopt healthy lifestyles informed by evidence, including ensuring service availability as needed •  develop strategies to ensure that primary school nurses work closely with Aboriginal families, possibly with the assistance of Koorie Liaison Officers •  continue the partnership between community and government to implement Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: towards a safer future for Indigenous families and communities 10 year plan to reduce family violence •  undertake collaborative research into the underlying reasons for the high levels of life stressors experienced by Victorian Aboriginal families and children, and assess effective ways to reduce child protection substantiations among Aboriginal children and improve the response to vulnerable children and young people Executive summary

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

4 Executive summary •  implement an early parenting strategy with a particular focus on providing practical parenting support tailored to the needs of vulnerable Aboriginal families. So that young children have opportunities to learn and thrive, we will work together to: • promote active parental engagement in children’s education • ensure that all Aboriginal children can participate in kindergarten programs • customise arrangements supporting the transition to school to meet the needs of Aboriginal families •  provide data and information to Aboriginal families and communities on the importance of the early years and how Aboriginal children are faring, and resource Aboriginal organisations to play a key role in transferring this knowledge • explore ways to better support Aboriginal families when their child has a disability or developmental delay. Section 2: Growing up as strong young people The second section of the plan sets direction to ensure that Aboriginal children and young people have every chance to succeed in school and are supported to become active, valued young adults who can take advantage of employment, further education or training opportunities.

Aboriginal young people face particular risks and problems in negotiating adolescence and are at much higher risk of coming into contact with police. However, the energy and creativity of young people, and the resilience of Aboriginal culture, may break the cycle of disadvantage if the Victorian community can support young people to reach their potential. Our shared aspirations are that: • children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture • young people will confidently transition into rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school • young people will have a strong voice in their communities and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships.

Recent evidence shows important progress in literacy and numeracy scores. Many young people now aspire to achieve a university education, although this number remains much lower than it is across the whole population and actual completion of secondary school remains a minority experience. Enrolments in Vocational Education and Training (VET) have been growing. However, some young people face significant barriers to their educational success. Some of these barriers reflect persistent disadvantage that surfaces most dramatically in adolescence.

The following future directions will guide our efforts to realise our shared aspirations and meet Victorian targets in this area. So that children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture, we will work together to: •  continue to implement the Wannik Education Strategy for Koorie Students to ensure that schools and services are well equipped to support Aboriginal students to attend and engage • increase opportunities for all Aboriginal young people to engage in pro-social activity such as sport Executive summary

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

5 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) •  increase the engagement of students with the education system by the provision, through the Wannik Education Strategy, of sport and recreation-based programs such as Clontarf Football Academies and Wannik Dance Academies •  improve the transition of students from primary to secondary school through the use of Individual Education Plans, the transfer of academic data and the work of Koorie Engagement Support Officers where necessary •  develop better supports for families of Aboriginal young people with disabilities to address the particular issues and challenges they face.

So that young people will confidently transition into rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school, we will work together to: •  develop strategies to better meet the needs of young parents with a particular focus on keeping young parents engaged in education •  provide Aboriginal students with high-quality career advice from Years 7 and 8 as well as work experience opportunities •  build on existing tools such as Individual Education Plans and Managed Individual Pathways to identify how career advice will support Aboriginal students to form relationships with potential employers and further education and training providers to create clear transition pathways •  provide access to mentors who can support Aboriginal students to realise their educational and career development aspirations •  ensure that engagement initiatives, including activities linked to sport, art and culture and career development advice, are provided from Years 7 and 8 and involve students’families • provide targeted re-engagement activities in identified areas of high rates of early school leaving. So that young people have a strong voice in their communities and feel supported and valued, and to equip them with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships, we will work together to: •  actively encourage young people to have a voice in the community by providing greater support for community youth organisations to enhance youth involvement in decisions affecting their lives •  enhance pathways to positive youth programs and provide opportunities for young people to share their skills with the community •  build on successful Frontline initiatives and Koorie Youth Justice strategies to prevent youth involvement in the justice system and to build safer communities •  in line with the Government’s Respect Agenda, support young people to build respectful relationships and make positive decisions relating to drugs (including smoking) and alcohol, with programs tailored to the needs of particular locations •  promote access to peer education for young people about sexual health, intimate relationships, pregnancy and choice in parenthood.

Section 3: Families, culture and community The third section of the plan sets direction to ensure that families, children and young people are genuinely free to identify as Aboriginal in Victoria today – that their Aboriginality is something to be celebrated and strengthened. This includes actively providing opportunities for children and young people to explore and rework connections and traditions. It also means ensuring that they are brought up safe from the damaging effects of racism and discrimination.

Executive summary

Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010-2020)

6 Executive summary Action in this area will support the success of actions in the early and later years of childhood, as set out in Sections 1 and 2, to achieve Victorian Government targets. Our shared aspirations are that: • children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture • children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination • healing and reconciliation will take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion. Recent evidence shows that most parents of Aboriginal children identify with particular Aboriginal groups and are involved in cultural events. However, many have few or no Aboriginal friends, and children and young people report little or no contact with leaders or elders. Discrimination continues to be reported widely. In 2008, 28 per cent of 15–24-year-olds reported experiencing discrimination within educational settings in the preceding 12 months.

Consultation identified both a widespread feeling of loss and disconnection from culture among young people and the importance of healing spaces and programs to address grief and trauma. The following future directions will guide our efforts to realise our shared aspirations and meet Victorian targets in this area. So that children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture, we will work together to: • promote access to places to meet, share stories, revive and celebrate culture •  strengthen connection to culture by providing opportunities for positive cultural experiences, particularly for children and young people.

So that children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination, we will work together to: •  increase efforts to combat racism through community education programs, cultural safety in the service sector and curriculum changes • work closely with local government on community-based cultural awareness initiatives. So that healing and reconciliation can take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion, we will work together to: •  enhance access to healing services from early childhood, which combine the best of traditional and western healing practices, focusing on addressing grief and loss, and trans-generational trauma •  implement healing programs and spaces including the development of men’s groups to address issues of identity •  conduct further research into the impact of the Stolen Generations on Victorian Aboriginal families and communities, given the high numbers of Aboriginal families in Victoria who were affected by child removal policies.

Section 4: Services that work for Aboriginal families The fourth section of the plan focuses on services, including schools, available to families. It addresses how services can work more effectively – and with Aboriginal community controlled organisations – for Aboriginal children, young people, and families. All Aboriginal families in Victoria, regardless of where they live, should, as far as is practicable, have access to and utilise a well-connected and integrated service network, made up of both Aboriginal and general organisations. Executive summary Executive summary

7 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Action in this area will support the success of actions in the early and later years of childhood, as set out in Sections 1 and 2. Our shared aspirations are that: • services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent • Aboriginal community controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive • partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly in relation to identifying and supporting higher-needs families.

Recent evidence indicates that a significant minority of Aboriginal families report problems in accessing services, particularly dental health care. Waiting times, cost, transport, lack of services and lack of cultural appropriateness were all barriers to use. Aboriginal parents are less likely to trust services – particularly police – than parents more generally. Aboriginal organisations provide a significant range of services to families, in particular local communities. They face challenges regarding workforce, population shifts and growth, sustaining effective programs and building capacity, including developing effective partnerships with general services. The following future directions will guide our efforts to realise our shared aspirations and meet Victorian targets in this area.

So that services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent, we will work together to: •  develop and implement an Aboriginal Inclusion Framework with the aim of improving the practice of universal services for Aboriginal children, young people and families, with a particular focus on promoting participation • support more Aboriginal Victorians to work in programs and services for children, families and young people. So that Aboriginal community controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive, we will work together to: •  build partnerships between Aboriginal organisations that provide services to children, young people and government and support these organisations to expand their service delivery and capacity •  move case management of Aboriginal children in long-term kinship care placements to Aboriginal community controlled organisations where appropriate •  work with Aboriginal organisations to utilise and disseminate relevant data for children and young people to the community.

So that partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher-needs families, we will work together to: •  explore opportunities for the formal exchange/secondment of staff between universal services and Aboriginal organisations that provide services to young people and families, to assist in the development of meaningful partnerships •  ensure that helpful service initiatives are available more widely in places where Aboriginal families live, rather than remaining confined to only a few sites •  encourage communities and agencies to prepare local Aboriginal Children’s Action Plans to take up the directions of Balert Boorron, particularly focusing on ways to provide more intensive or sustained support to the most vulnerable families.

Executive summary

8 The story so far... Balert Boorron has been developed through a partnership between key Aboriginal organisations and community leaders, and the Victorian Government. The aspirations of the plan, and the directions it proposes, have been proposed, tested and agreed by both Aboriginal advisory bodies and the Victorian Government. The plan relies upon this partnership and embodies: • the recognition that most Aboriginal children and young people are doing better than their predecessors but there is still a long way to go • the understanding that the problems that face Aboriginal families and their children are informed by consultation with communities, families and young people and with Victorian Government agencies • the evidence base supporting the plan – and particularly the data on how children and young people are faring presented in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009 – collected from families and from Victorian Government departments • the views of both Aboriginal organisations delivering services and the Government departments responsible for these services of the strengths and limitations of the supports available to assist families • the centrality of respect and trust in achieving these aspirations • the emerging consensus of views between Aboriginal communities and all parts of Government on our aspirations for Aboriginal children, young people and families – and on ways to support them to reach their full potential. The consensus embodied in the plan recognises the responsibility of parents, and the empowerment of families, to promote the interests of their children. It also recognises the need for risk, hardship, disadvantage or developmental problems to be prevented – or interventions to be offered early – rather than to become further concentrated among Aboriginal people. Acknowledging our history Aboriginal people have lived in Victoria for over 40,000 years, developing a rich and complex culture and a deep spiritual connection to the land. Some 300 to 500 clans, belonging to up to 40 language-culture groups, occupied the lands prior to colonisation in 1835.

The European colonisation of Victoria was swift and had devastating consequences for Aboriginal people and their culture. Within a generation Aboriginal communities had been decimated, their lands taken over and their food sources depleted or cut off. Aboriginal culture in Victoria in the twenty-first century reflects this history of colonisation, the experience of forced removal from country and family, and of marginalisation from economic and social activity. The pain and trauma resulting from dispossession and the separation of families from country and from each other still reverberates in many Aboriginal families. Even now, 20 per cent of Aboriginal young people identify as belonging Executive summary The story so far... The story so far …

9 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) to the Stolen Generations1 . Relationships and parenting practices have been fractured, and connection to culture and strong cultural identity is no longer assured for some families. The impact of colonisation shows in the life experiences of many Aboriginal people in the twenty-first century. There are high levels of life stress, family violence and contact with the child protection and criminal justice systems, and relatively poor health, education and employment outcomes. Aboriginal communities are, however, strong and resilient. They have an enduring and essential connection to country and have survived in the face of this painful history, adapting to include Aboriginal people whose traditional country is elsewhere in Australia and those who have lost or never known their traditional identity. This resilience and adaptation has led Aboriginal people to invent and invest in organisations to advance their welfare in communities across Victoria. Today these organisations and local communities work in partnership with Government for a better future for Aboriginal children and young people. Aboriginal people and Aboriginal families are diverse. Many are confident and successful. Many face more than their fair share of difficulties. Others are among the most disadvantaged in Victoria. This plan aims to improve outcomes across this diverse population.

A focus on improving outcomes Since 2006 the VIAF has guided and coordinated the efforts of the Victorian Government. The VIAF focuses long- term, strategic and progressive effort to improve a range of health, education, justice and economic outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians. Major elements of the VIAF relating to children and young people are set out in Figure 1. The story so far... 1 Young people responding to the Victorian Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey were aged 12 to 17 years. Data from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey indicated that 11 per cent of Victorian parents or other adults living in households with Aboriginal children reported having been removed from their own families.

Figure 1: Four key elements of the VIAF Maternal health and early childhood development Education outcomes Year 12 completion or equivalent Aboriginal economic development and employment Key strategies and actions in place: •  Dardee Boorai: Victorian Charter of Safety and Wellbeing for Aboriginal Children and Young People •  The Aboriginal Services Plan 2008–10 •  Victorian Indigenous Childhood Health and Wellbeing Survey •  Aboriginal Best Start •  Indigenous Kindergarten Program (free for 3- and 4-year-olds) •  Parenting: In-Home Support Program and Home Based Learning Program •  Expanded and more Koorie Maternity Services Key strategies and actions in place: •  Dardee Boorai: Victorian Charter of Safety and Wellbeing for Aboriginal Children and Young People •  Wannik Education Strategy •  Yalca: A Partnership in Education and Training for the New Millennium Key strategies and actions in place: •  Wannik Education Strategy •  Wurreker The Koorie Community and TAFE in Victoria in Equal Partnership •  Yalca: A Partnership in Education and Training for the New Millennium Key strategies and actions being put into place: •  Youth transitions – clear pathways from school to work and further study •  Improved transitions from further education and training into employment •  Karreeta Yirramboi Victorian Aboriginal Public Sector Employment and Career Development Action Plan (2010–2015) •  Moonda Wurrin Gree Pathways to a Better Future: The report of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Group

10 The story so far... The first phase of the VIAF prioritised the first two strategic areas for action: improving maternal and child health and development, and improving education outcomes. Within Victoria, effort has been directed to improving maternal and child health services, providing free kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, and ensuring better support in the home for preschool children. Focusing effort and resources on these areas has already improved Aboriginal families’ access to maternal and child health services and kindergarten participation.

Recognising the role that education can play in breaking a cycle of disadvantage, the Wannik Education Strategy for Koorie Students is contributing significantly to closing the gap in education outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. In 2008, Victoria and other states and territories joined with the Commonwealth Government in a COAG commitment to close the gap between the health, education and life chances of Aboriginal people and the rest of the population. In December 2008, the Victorian Government and the Aboriginal community together acknowledged their shared commitment to improve outcomes for Victoria’s Aboriginal children and young people in Dardee Boorai. Planning the next steps Balert Boorron supports Dardee Boorai. It sets out how the Victorian Government, working in partnership with Aboriginal communities and organisations, can deliver on the shared commitments of Dardee Boorai over the next decade.

The plan has been informed by, and responds to, The State of Victoria’s Children 2009. Much of the data cited in the plan is derived from that report and its contributing surveys. Except where otherwise cited, data presented in the plan is derived directly from this report. The plan has also been shaped by extensive consultation with Victoria’s Aboriginal community, Victorian Government departments, Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal young people and parents2 . An outline of the consultation process and the plan’s development is provided in the Appendix. Rationale Aboriginal children are a growing and important group of Victorian children, whose history and family circumstances means that they require particular attention.

The State of Victoria’s Children 2009 confirmed that while Aboriginal children’s outcomes are similar to those of other children across some important measures, too many Aboriginal children are doing significantly worse and could be left behind as living standards and opportunities of most Victorians continue to rise. Many Aboriginal families are managing precariously, often experiencing repeated life stressors, making it hard for parents – many of whom are raising children alone, often with limited support from overstretched families – to care effectively for their children. For some it is too hard, leaving a disturbingly high proportion of Aboriginal children in need of care or protection.

It is nonetheless possible to reduce the burdens faced by Aboriginal families. In some important areas the situation is improving and the Victorian Government has already determined on further improvement. This will require sustained attention over the next 10 years and beyond. Executive summary The story so far... 2 For simplicity the term ‘parents’is used throughout this document to include carers who are not the biological parents of the children in their care.

11 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) The story so far... Over half of all Aboriginal people in Victoria are under the age of 25, providing Victoria with an unprecedented opportunity to draw on the resilience of Aboriginal culture and the potential of children and young people to break the cycle of disadvantage, and to work towards a stronger and healthier community. Structure of the plan The plan’s logic, aspiration and targets are shown in Figure 2. Reflecting the approach of Dardee Boorai, and the advice gathered through consultation, the plan is presented in four sections. The first two sections cover the two crucial periods in the lives of children and families. 1 Early childhood – when capable parenting is needed to give children the best start in life, and for which the Victorian Government has set targets to close the gap in seven areas.

2 From the school years into adulthood – when adolescence and independence produce new challenges to young people successfully completing school and building careers. The Victorian Government has set targets to close the gap in six areas over these years. The next two sections focus on the underpinning of action in both early and the later years of childhood, and into adulthood. 3 The cultural and community context in which Aboriginal families raise their children, including the negative experiences of racism and discrimination and the positive opportunities offered. This is of primary importance to the Aboriginal community.

4 The need to shape the service systems so that they work for Aboriginal families. Each section starts by setting out the shared aspirations of Government and community. It then examines the current situation, presenting some key data to illuminate the challenges facing Victoria. Current initiatives, including new strategies already being put in place, are then reviewed. Finally, each section considers the future directions that governments and communities should pursue, and lists actions for consideration over the life of the plan that will advance our aspiration and allow us to deliver on Victoria’s commitments.

12 The story so far... Executive summary The story so far... Figure 2: Balert Boorron: the Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) To close the gap in: •  Smoking, low birth weight, and perinatal mortality •  MCH service use, and child protection substantiations •  3 and 4-year-old kindergarten participation Victorian Aboriginal Communities working with Victorian Government To close the gap in: •  School attendance, literacy and numeracy •  School continuation, school completion, and transition to employment or further education 1.  Parenting and the early years – Babies will be born healthy  –  Parents will be capable, confident and supported  –  Young children have opportunities to learn and thrive 2.  Growing up as successful young people  –  Children and young people will succeed in school  –  Young people will confidently transition into rewarding employment, training or educational pathways  –  Young people have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued 3.  Families, culture and community  –  Children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture  –  Children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination  –  Healing and reconciliation can take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion 4.  Services that work for Aboriginal families  –  Services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent  –  Aboriginal community- controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive  –  Partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher- need families

13 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) VIAF and COAG Close the Gap Partnerships are directed at: • breaking the cycle of disadvantage over a generation • improving availability of antenatal and maternity services that build stronger platforms for healthier and more fulfilling lives • improving early childhood development outcomes that give kids better learning foundations • significantly advancing education outcomes for Aboriginal young people • enhancing transitions to higher education and the labour market • directing Government focus on early years and education as the basis for sustained generational change.

Through a series of national agreements all Australian governments have committed to a broad reform agenda aimed at improving outcomes for children and young people throughout their lives, some of which are specific to Aboriginal children and young people. These agreements include: • National Education Agreement • National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap) • National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development • National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions • Smarter Schools National Partnerships Literacy and Numeracy Improving Teacher Quality Low Socio-economic Status School Communities. Through the VIAF and COAG, the Victorian Government has committed to achieving the broad outcomes outlined in Table 1. Government commitments Government commitments

14 Government commitments The Victorian Government is also committed to achieving a series of more specific targets within these broad outcomes. These are listed in the first two sections of the plan. They include, for example, a commitment to reduce Indigenous child protection substantiations, reflecting the extent of need within the Aboriginal population in this area. Executive summary Government commitments Table 1: Relationship between the VIAF strategic areas for action and COAG outcomes VIAF strategic areas for action COAG outcomes (as reflected in Dardee Boorai) Improve maternal health and early childhood health and development Aboriginal children are born healthy and have the same health outcomes as other children.

Aboriginal children acquire fundamental skills for life and learning, prior to attending school. Aboriginal children have access to affordable, quality early childhood education in the year before formal schooling as a minimum. Improve health and wellbeing Aboriginal children’s environments are healthy. Prevent family violence and improve justice outcomes Aboriginal children and families are safe and protected from violence and neglect. Improve education outcomes Aboriginal children meet literacy and numeracy standards Aboriginal children are engaged in, and benefiting from, school.

Aboriginal young people make a successful transition from school to work and study. Build Indigenous Capacity Improve economic development, settle native title claims and address land access issues.

15 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 Section 1 Brodie has cerebral palsy but is able to move his texta around with Koorie colours. Artwork by Brodie Baker, age 7

Parenting and the early years Section 1

17 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 The early years of a child’s life lay the foundations for future health, learning and development. It is the child’s parents and family who, through their love and care, supervise the laying of these foundations. This first section of the plan addresses the importance of Aboriginal children and families enjoying culturally rich and vibrant home environments. It is about promoting the conditions for Aboriginal children to have the best start in life – to grow up in homes with parents and families who are healthy, happy and confident in their parenting abilities, as well as strong in their culture.

This starts from before birth, since a healthy life is strongly influenced by a healthy pregnancy. From birth and into the early years of school, the ways parents care for and guide their children is equally critical and rewarding. Aboriginal children benefit from stimulating environments, opportunities to explore and learn, and to interact with other children. Like all families, on occasion Aboriginal families need advice and assistance. If government and community, families and early childhood services work together towards the same goals, Victoria will have ‘Dardee Boorai’ – which translates from Gunnai as strong Aboriginal children who are healthy, happy and engaged in learning.

Diversity in Aboriginal families Family for Aboriginal people is defined widely and inclusively and extends beyond formal blood ties to include parents, aunties and uncles, cousins, grandparents, Elders and other significant people in the community. The term ‘Aboriginal families’ is used to include all families where there is an Aboriginal child. Aboriginal babies are born into diverse families, with most having both an Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage. The structures of households with Aboriginal children are diverse; one notable feature is that over half are led by sole parents. In many instances the sole parent will be non-Aboriginal. Another notable feature is that many Aboriginal fathers are living separately from their children.

Section 1: Parenting and the early years A key role for Aboriginal families is to provide a nurturing, caring, safe, supportive environment for Aboriginal children and young people that supports their learning and keeps them safe. Dardee Boorai

18 Parenting and the early years What are our shared aspirations? Babies will be born healthy Strong and supported Aboriginal families are the key to healthy babies. Maternal health and wellbeing is an important contributor to outcomes for Aboriginal babies and children. Having babies will be a positive choice by parents, ready and able to protect and support their child’s health and development. Parents will be able to access culturally appropriate support throughout their pregnancies by services that meet their individual needs. As the VIAF acknowledges, bridging the gap in life expectancy and quality of life for Aboriginal people in Victoria must start with giving mothers and babies the best possible start in life. Improving these early life outcomes for children can have a lasting, life-long benefit.

Parents will be capable, confident and supported As Dardee Boorai acknowledges, ‘Families are central to Aboriginal children’s health, welfare, safety, development, learning and wellbeing’. Families will promote their child’s health, prevent harm and manage challenges they face. They will be able to take advantage of general and specialist services, receiving the level of support they require when it is needed. They will help their child learn in ways that reflect the continuing importance of Aboriginal culture, history and language.

Young children will be given opportunities to learn and thrive Over the first few years of their child’s life, Aboriginal families will have opportunities to participate in activities that engage their children and assist parents to provide a positive and stimulating home environment, building their strengths and celebrating Aboriginality. All Aboriginal children will participate in high-quality early childhood education and care services that are culturally appropriate and supportive. For the two years before school, Aboriginal families will be able to access services with innovative curricula combining best practice in early childhood learning with Aboriginal language, history and culture.3 Services will be staffed by suitably qualified workers who can also work with families to support home learning or find needed supports, and with schools and other services to ensure that all Aboriginal children make a smooth transition to school.

The Welcome Baby to Country Project The Welcome Baby to Country Project is a joint initiative between Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Delkaia Aboriginal Best Start and Horsham Rural City Council. Each new family is invited to a ceremony of welcome near their home. Each ceremony facilitates a positive and inspiring engagement of Traditional Owners and the broader Aboriginal community to celebrate the birth of Aboriginal babies, focus attention on children’s needs and achievements, and acknowledge the role of carers and families in their growth and development. The project has been successful in increasing the engagement of carers and families with relevant support services and in providing an opportunity to supply information, resources and assistance on children’s needs, and health and wellbeing issues. The project is based on the Aboriginal tradition of Tandurrum, a ceremony performed by Traditional Owners to recognise and welcome other visiting Aboriginal people entering their traditional lands and country. The initiative won the 2008 Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development’s Early Years Award.

3 The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (2009) promotes cultural awareness in all children, including greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being and knowing. Section 1

19 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Victoria’s targets Victoria has agreed to the following targets to close the gap between the experiences and life chances of Aboriginal children and statewide averages (Aboriginal Affairs Victoria 2009)4 . Achieving these targets will be a major step forward in delivering on the plan’s objectives for early childhood and parenting, and will position Victoria to close the gap more fully over the longer-term, beyond the life of this plan. Babies will be born healthy •  Reduce smoking in pregnancy by Indigenous mothers to a rate of 20 per cent by 2018 (to 14 per cent by 2023)5 .

•  Reduce the Indigenous perinatal mortality rate to no more than 10 per 1000 births by 2018 (no gap by 2023). •  Reduce the percentage of Indigenous babies with birth weight below 2500 grams to 12 per cent by 2018 (to 7 per cent by 2023). •  Parents will be capable, confident and supported. •  At least halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children participating in maternal and child health key age and stage visits by 2013. •  Reduce the rate of Indigenous child protection substantiations to 34 per 1000 children by 2018 (17 per 1000 by 2023).

•  Young children have opportunities to learn and thrive. •  Increase the percentage of Indigenous 3-year-old children participating in funded kindergarten programs to 75 per cent by 2013. •  Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous 4-year-old children participating in funded kindergarten programs by 2013. How Aboriginal parents and children are faring The plan has been informed by the views, experiences and insights of Aboriginal parents, communities and organisations, and by consultation with Victorian Government departments. It has drawn on commissioned research and new data on early childhood and family outcomes presented in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009.

Are babies being born healthy? Perinatal mortality, premature birth and low birth weight6 are of great concern to the Aboriginal community. This is supported by evidence that a high proportion of Aboriginal women – 93 per cent of mothers participating in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey-accessed regular antenatal care. However, the likelihood of having a low birth weight baby, at 12.5 per cent of live births, is nearly double the rate in the general population, as shown in Figure 3 as follows.

4 Other Victorian targets related to education are outlined in Section 2. No specific targets have been adopted by the Government that directly relate to Sections 3 and 4. 5  This plan includes targets that, in some instances, extend beyond the life of this plan. 6 Definitions of these and other technical terms are provided in the Key definitions (see page 81).

20 Parenting and the early years Section 1 Although there has not been a significant decrease in the proportion of Aboriginal mothers giving birth to low birth weight babies there is a downward trend, observed since 2004.7 Improvements to antenatal care can contribute to a reduction in the number of women who have low birth weight babies. Improving the social and economic circumstances of Aboriginal families can also improve their chances of having a healthy baby. Evidence shows that: • Smoking can have many detrimental effects on antenatal health and there is a strong association between smoking in pregnancy and low birth weight, as well as an association with premature birth, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome and other complications.

• If women receive appropriate support and care during pregnancy there can be dramatic improvements in outcomes for their infants. 7 The higher rate of low birth weight babies over the last decade could be, in part, a result of better identification of these babies as Aboriginal as well as an increase in the number of low birth weight babies (Aboriginal Services Plan Key Indicators 2006-07, Department of Human Services 2008). 8 Information on Aboriginal births/confinements is based upon the cases of Aboriginal mothers that are reported on the Perinatal Form. The statewide figures that have been provided include data on all births/confinements in the State, including women who live outside Victoria but give birth at a Victorian hospital. For the other demographic tables these women have been excluded. Cases with unknown values for either maternal age or unknown Aboriginal status have been excluded.

Source: Aboriginal Services Plan Key Indicators 2006-07, Department of Human Services 2008. 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 Babies born to non Aboriginal women Babies born to Aboriginal women Year Percentage 11.0 12.2 12.3 15.5 15.0 12.8 14.7 13.5 17.1 14.7 13.4 12.5 6.5 6.9 7.0 7.0 6.9 6.9 6.7 6.6 6.9 6.7 6.5 6.3 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 Figure 3: Proportion of babies with low birth weight, Victoria8 , 1996 to 2006

21 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Data related to key issues explored above is documented in Table 2 (above). Postnatal care and access to maternal and child health services can also be critical to improving outcomes. The proportion of Aboriginal infants in Victoria receiving the initial home visit by a maternal and child health nurse was 91 per cent in 2007–08 (99 per cent in the whole population). However, maternal and child health service use when children are older is significantly lower for Aboriginal children than for the total population. Figure 4 below also shows that 47.6 per cent of Aboriginal women reported smoking while pregnant. In addition, 9.3 per cent12 of women reported using illicit drugs while pregnant. A mother’s alcohol consumption is another behaviour that can have a significant impact on her baby’s health. Aboriginal Victorians are less likely than non-Aboriginal Victorians to drink alcohol with 26 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians reporting never having consumed alcohol compared with 19 per cent of the general population. However, Aboriginal Victorians who do drink are more likely than the general population to do so at medium or high-risk levels (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2008, National Health Survey 2007–08). In Victoria, 23.1 per cent of Aboriginal mothers of children aged 0 to 3 years reported they drank alcohol during pregnancy. Although a roughly similar level of alcohol use in pregnancy is reported across the whole population, more Aboriginal women appear to be drinking heavily while pregnant. Comparable data for non-Aboriginal mothers using illicit drugs is not available.

9 Ibid. 10 The figure of 20 per cent for Victorian non-Aboriginal women smoking in pregnancy refers to women before they knew they were pregnant reducing to one in 11 reporting continuing to smoke in the latter stages of pregnancy. 11 See definitions on page 81. 12 Estimate has a relative standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent and should be used with caution. Table 2: Key antenatal and birth indicators Victorian Aboriginal Victorian non-Aboriginal Smoking during pregnancy9 47.6% 20%10 Perinatal mortality11 19.1 per 1000 9.9 per 1000 Babies born with low birth weight (

22 Percentage Smoking Alcohol Mother did use/consume Illicit drugs/ substances Mother did not use/consume 20 40 60 80 100 47.6* 23.1 9.3 52.5 76.9 90.7 Parenting and the early years Section 1 Figure 4: Proportion of Aboriginal children aged 0–3 years exposed to alcohol, tobacco or other illicit drugs/ substances in utero, Victoria 2008 (includes non-Aboriginal parents of Aboriginal children) Note: *Estimate has a relative standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent and should be used with caution. Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, ABS 2008; General Social Survey, ABS 2006 cited in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009.

Are parents capable, confident and supported? Aboriginal community members emphasised the important role of family in a child’s development, achievement and wellbeing. Concerns were raised about the effects of unstable living conditions on Aboriginal children’s capacity to thrive and develop, especially: • The impact of poverty on some households and the inability to meet basic housing, food, support, health, schooling and safety needs. • Challenges in accessing services, particularly Aboriginal-specific services, in new growth areas in Melbourne where, due to housing affordability constraints, Aboriginal communities have grown. • Child abuse, neglect, family violence and the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in the community. Although there is considerable diversity among Aboriginal families, on average they are much more likely to be under considerable stress than non-Aboriginal families with children.

For example, 50 per cent of Victorian Aboriginal families are sole parent families – compared to 21 per cent of all Victorian families with children. This is an increase from 43 per cent in 1996 (ABS Census of Population and Housing 1986, 1996, 2006). In Victoria, Aboriginal women under the age of 20 are nearly five times more likely than other women of the same age to become pregnant; overall these mothers face risks of poorer birth outcomes, cessation of education and subsequent unemployment and poor housing conditions compared to older mothers. Adults within Victorian Aboriginal families are much more likely to be experiencing or affected by major life stressors than adults within other families. Overall, the vast majority (78.6 per cent) of adults in these families reported having themselves (or family or friends) experienced one or more of these stressors. This is almost double the rate for non-Aboriginal Victorians.

*

23 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Figure 5 shows the stressors affecting these adults in the last 12 months, with the death of a family member or close friend the most prominent. Figure 5: Of those parent/guardians who had themselves, or their family or friends, experienced life stressors in the past 12 months, types of stressors experienced, Victoria, 2008 and 2006 Note: * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent and should be used with caution. Source: ABS 2008, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey; General Social Survey, ABS 2006 cited in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009.

Alcohol or drug use, mental illness, family violence and broader poverty impede parents’ capacity to effectively care for their children, making it more likely that child neglect or other forms of abuse occur and come to the attention of Victorian child protection workers. Data shows that: • In 2008–09, the rate of child protection substantiations in Victoria was 10 times higher for Aboriginal children than for non-Aboriginal children (approximately 48 per 1000 compared to 4.8 per 1000).

• In 2008-09, 154 Aboriginal babies in Victoria were subject to substantiation of child abuse or neglect prior to their first birthday(AIHW 2010). • Aboriginal children are also sharply over-represented in out-of-home care, with 734 Aboriginal children in care at 30 June 2009, a rate of 48.7 per 1000 compared to 4.3 per 1000 for all children (40 per cent of these Aboriginal children are placed with non-Aboriginal families). Serious disability Gambling problems Abuse or violent crime Witness to violence Serious accident Lost job/made redundant/sacked/retired Divorce or separation Trouble with the police Not able to get a job Mental illness Alcohol or drug related problems Serious illness Death of a family member or close friend 0 10 20 Percentage 30 40 50 Aboriginal Non-Aboriginal 2.9 5.7 7.6 7.6 9.6 3.6 *1.5 9.3 2.8 2.4 2.7 9.8 12.2 13.2 13.4 13.7 18.9 23.3 24.2 28.4 33.5 38.5 18.1 16.6 5.5 4.5

24 Parenting and the early years Section 1 The circumstances of Aboriginal families mean that parents will require enhanced and tailored supports to reduce their vulnerability and the likelihood of statutory intervention. The Victorian Aboriginal community has taken a strong lead on tackling the circumstances that give rise to abuse and neglect and in responding to children’s needs. The community’s partnership role with Government in the development of Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families – 10 year plan to address Indigenous family violence is an example of the community taking responsibility.

Development of supports will need to take account of the reality that: • many new parents are still very young themselves • significant numbers of Aboriginal children are growing up in sole parent households • fathers can easily be isolated from their children. The need to better recognise the important role of fathers and to support them to play a greater role in bringing up children was stressed throughout the consultations. Identity, culture, family and community are seen as central to the tailoring of parenting supports, and to the development and learning of young children. Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Indigenous Parenting Project An Indigenous parenting project run by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care found that parents require information and support in relation to parenting skills, nutrition, health, general care and safety of infants and children, drug and alcohol use, child sexual abuse, gambling awareness, available local and culturally appropriate services, budgeting, family violence and education. Parents reported that information provided through informal discussions, yarning circles, networks and relationships, Elders, dance, music and storytelling, and Aboriginal ownership of resources was most effective. Family role modelling and mentoring were noted as important to enhancing parenting skills.

Do young children have opportunities to learn and thrive? Providing children with optimal social, emotional and learning environments contributes to school readiness (Centre for Community Child Health 2008). Aboriginal families consulted in preparing this plan believed that it was important that Aboriginal children know about both their culture and family in the early years. [I want them to have] education and a sense of wellbeing and culture – especially cultural identity, and numeracy and literacy from a young age. (Focus group participant) Research reinforces the need to take a holistic view that recognises the influence of the family, the community and society in ensuring that children are ready for school and that schools are ready for children (Dockett & Perry 2007).

In Victoria, a key resource for families to support a child’s development is kindergarten participation. Aboriginal participation rates in funded 4-year-old kindergarten programs remain significantly lower than for the whole population, although enrolment numbers have increased over recent years (there was a 10 per cent increase in 2009). Finally, it appears that disability disproportionately impacts on Aboriginal children from the early years on. As Figure 6 indicates, Aboriginal children are more likely to have a disability requiring assistance with core activities than children generally.

25 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Figure 6: Proportion of children aged 0 to 17 years with need for assistance with core activities, by age group, Victoria, 2006. Source: Census of Population and Housing, ABS 2006 cited in The State of Victoria’s Children Report 2009. Summary of findings Consultations with the Aboriginal community and Government departments, and mounting evidence on early childhood development, affirm the importance of the Victorian Government and the Aboriginal community continuing efforts to help parents give their children the best start in life. We need to better educate our parents about how important the early years are and how schools are. It may not have been a good experience for them, for a lot of parents. We need to somehow get parents to realise there is more support now available and it is different now. (Focus group participant) The most direct way of improving outcomes in childhood, and thus influencing the life course, is to ensure that all environments in the early years are consistently nourishing, stimulating and meet the needs of young children (Centre for Community Health 2006). Young Aboriginal children within vulnerable families should benefit most from this approach. These families have complex needs that often transcend the capabilities of any single discipline or service, and require sustained support and often a multi-disciplinary, multi-service approach.

Appropriate support and care during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period is crucial to birth outcomes and long-term health and development. Good nutrition, nurturing and responsive care-giving, combined with high-quality early childhood education and care, can improve long-term outcomes and life chances for children. Delivery of services in these areas needs to take account of the diversity of Aboriginal families, particularly involvement of fathers and wider kin. Research is also clear about what constitutes high-quality services, and Aboriginal communities have expressed strong views that Aboriginal culture, history and language should be taught to children at a young age and should be embedded in early childhood services.

1 Percentage 2 3 4 0–4 years All children Aboriginal children 1.6 0.9 3.3 2.0 3.3 1.8 5–8 years 9–17 years Age group

26 Parenting and the early years Section 1 Adverse outcomes, including family violence, alcohol and substance abuse, juvenile crime, child abuse and mental health problems, are known to develop from a common set of risk factors and follow a similar path. This suggests a solution based largely (although not exclusively) on investment in broadly based, multi-disciplinary primary prevention (Centre for Community Child Health 2006). What Victoria is doing Over many years, the Victorian community has developed a range of services and supports available to families in early childhood. These include maternity services in public hospitals, local maternal and child health nurses, long day care centres and other child care services, community kindergartens, as well as more specialised early childhood intervention services, allied health and family services.

The Victorian Government funds most of these services, often in partnership with local government, the Commonwealth Government or with community agencies including Aboriginal controlled community agencies. Over the past decade, additional investment has sustained and improved the services to accommodate a growing population, extending their availability and raising their quality and effectiveness, including: • Developing a new service model and a major funding increase to employ more maternal and child health nurses to accommodate Victoria’s higher birth rate.

• Working towards extending kindergarten education programs from 10 to 15 hours per week for children in the year before school13 with these programs free for households with a concession card. • Implementing new regulations for early childhood education and care services, requiring better qualified and more staff, to provide young children with higher-quality care. • Supporting a 36 per cent increase in the availability of Early Childhood Intervention Services for young children with a disability or developmental delay.

• Funding 98 new multi-service Children’s Centres, as well as capital grants to community-based child care services across the state and supporting local government redevelopment of children’s services. (At the time of publication 55 of these centres have been opened.) These services are important resources and supports for all families, including many Aboriginal families. Services need enhancements to ensure access and relevance for Aboriginal families. So that babies will be born healthy The support system for Aboriginal women in pregnancy and for parents and children in the early years has developed significantly over the last few years. Important initiatives help Aboriginal women benefit from antenatal care: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Koori Maternity Services, and maternal and child health services. Aboriginal elders have a key role in relation to these initiatives. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Key objectives of this health and wellbeing focussed program are to: • Assist women to access antenatal, postnatal and other health and human services. • Support women throughout their pregnancy.

• Deliver key health promotion messages that will support healthy behaviours in pregnancy and beyond. 13 The increase in funded program length to 15 hours per week is to be fully implemented by 2013.

27 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Aboriginal Cultural Awareness training provided to relevant clinicians explores a range of issues that impact on Aboriginal women including: • Understanding underlying factors which may be barriers to Aboriginal people accessing services from generic organisations. • Exploring how myths, assumptions and stereotypes about Aboriginal people are perpetuated and how they influence the values and beliefs of non-Aboriginal Australians.

Koori Maternity Services (KMS) provide culturally appropriate care and support to Aboriginal women throughout pregnancy and the postnatal period and facilitate the relationship between the mother and the birth hospital. This includes formal and informal shared care arrangements between some KMS sites and relevant birthing hospitals. The program is delivered through local Aboriginal organisations. Introduced in a small number of sites in 2000, KMS has supported hundreds of mothers, with encouraging reductions in rates of low birth weight babies in some settings. Services continue to focus on achieving reduced rates of smoking and better access to antenatal care for these mothers. Under the 2008–09 Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership, the program has recently been expanded to provide more comprehensive services in the existing 11 sites (through Aboriginal Cooperatives at Fitzroy, Shepparton, Mildura, Sale, Dandenong, Echuca, Geelong, Warrnambool, Bairnsdale and Wodonga) and to establish one new service in the western metropolitan suburbs of Melbourne. Planning is underway for further expansion and establishment of new services. Maternal and child health services now have an outreach program operating in 20 Aboriginal communities, ensuring that Aboriginal mothers gain the support of skilled and experienced nurses. The service focuses on health promotion and early detection in relation to physical, emotional and social factors that impact on outcomes for young children and their families. Higher-need families can benefit by additional visits and more intensive support.

A big challenge is trust and building relationships. Without this it is hard to bring about anything productive. (Focus group participant) Other recent important initiatives for Aboriginal families • An action research intervention to reduce smoking in pregnancy is currently being undertaken by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). • The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. In Victoria, the reform initiatives related to this have been developed jointly by the Government and Aboriginal health organisations. The reform initiatives total $57.97 million over the next four years (2010–14) and will focus on tackling smoking, providing primary health services that can deliver, the patient journey, healthy transitions to adulthood and re-engagement of the most disadvantaged families and individuals in Aboriginal communities in the health care system.

28 Parenting and the early years Section 1 So that parents will be capable, confident and supported Targeted parenting supports are now available for Aboriginal families. These recognise the higher levels of stress faced by Aboriginal families generally and the disrupted childhoods that many of today’s parents have faced. Four particular initiatives directly engage with parents and communities to support child development and to reduce the risk of family violence – a major impediment to effective parenting – and to sustain care within the family where children are vulnerable.

The Aboriginal In-Home Support Program builds on the early parenting assistance delivered by the KMS and provides parenting support to Aboriginal families to improve their child’s health, development, learning and wellbeing from birth to 3 years. This support is offered in a way that is respectful of Aboriginal cultural identity. There are currently six Aboriginal organisations delivering the In-Home Support Program in Bairnsdale, Fitzroy, Geelong, Mildura, Shepparton and Swan Hill. The Home Based Learning Program carries on from the In-Home Support Program by supporting Aboriginal families in the next stage of their child’s development from 3 to 5 years of age. The program aims to support parents as the primary educators of their children, enhance the home learning environment and complement the kindergarten learning experience. There are currently two Home Based Learning Programs based in Mildura and Swan Hill, with a third to be implemented in 2010.

Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families is a 10-year-plan to reduce family violence. Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Groups and Coordinators are implementing community plans which provide education, aim to prevent family violence and have raised understanding and awareness of family violence in local communities. The Family Violence reforms have resulted in a significant increase in reporting of family violence and levels of police action in response. Sustaining care within the family is the goal of a range of programs delivered by Aboriginal organisations that respond to the needs of vulnerable children and help parents provide effective care. Culturally sensitive, integrated family services reduce the need for child protection involvement. The Aboriginal Family Preservation and Restoration Program has a specific focus on preventing placement of children into care through providing a range of intensive and locally based supports. Pilot programs over the next four years will see children and their families receive a tailored, ‘joined up’ service response led by Aboriginal organisations, ensuring that children can remain safe and healthy in the care of their parents. Up to 12 months support will be provided through these placement prevention pilots to vulnerable Aboriginal children and families. This will include professional support to families to improve parenting skills, practical household support including babysitting, respite including child care and connection to community.

29 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 I’m an Aboriginal Dad Program The I’m An Aboriginal Dad Program is built on a three-way partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, the transition clinic of Mercy Hospital and the Children’s Protection Society. It aims to build the capacity of Aboriginal fathers to raise their babies and children through developing supportive partner and family relationships. It involves a community-based and run in-service and outreach program. Research has shown a positive association between fathers’ involvement in the antenatal period and their subsequent attachment and bonding with the child. The program has been shown to increase supportive relationships and fathers’ involvement in the raising of their child. Counselling services include formal referrals and informal opportunities to engage with other fathers. The program also provides opportunities for Aboriginal fathers to engage in a ‘yarning up’ circle where contact with other fathers can take place. In addition, resources and support are provided for the development of relationships between partners and family members.

Other recent important initiatives for Aboriginal families Aboriginal Supported Playgroups and Parent Groups provide regular high-quality play opportunities at a critical time in a child’s development. These opportunities foster language and motor skill development, expose children to sensory experiences and enhance social skills. Playgroups provide friendship opportunities, long-term, social support structures, and build parenting skills and confidence. Early Parenting Centres provide intensive parenting assessment, skill development and support programs to assist vulnerable families to care for and nurture their children from pregnancy to pre-school. Different service models to better meet the early parenting needs of Aboriginal children and families within their local community are being developed.

Aboriginal families in the child protection system are supported through culturally inclusive services, including the Aboriginal Family Decision Making Program. Aboriginal children in out-of-home care are placed according to the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Preparations are also being made by some Aboriginal organisations to assume guardianship of Aboriginal children and young people under statutory intervention. Two specific Therapeutic Residential Care Pilots are being implemented, and a culturally competent therapeutic foster care model is being developed to enhance existing Aboriginal home-based care models. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Aboriginal communities and organisations with an emphasis on supporting family-based interventions, family placement options and service provision by Aboriginal organisations. The reforms build on existing initiatives. These include the Take Two Program, which employs qualified Aboriginal clinical staff who provide expert cultural and clinical training and advice to other Take Two clinicians and agencies that work with Aboriginal children and families, and the delivery of the Yarning Up on Trauma training to Aboriginal communities throughout the state.

30 Parenting and the early years Section 1 So that young children have opportunities to learn and thrive Although most Aboriginal families know of and use early childhood education and care, participation in 4-year-old kindergarten programs remains significantly lower than for the wider community. Two particular approaches are in place to widen opportunities for Aboriginal children to participate in these settings. Free kindergarten for up to 10 hours per week is now available for all 3- and 4-year-old Aboriginal children in Victoria, planned and delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. Participation is supported by the Koorie Early Childhood Education program which works with services, children and families to encourage Aboriginal children’s participation in kindergarten. The program comprises regional-based Koorie Education Coordinators, Koorie Engagement Support Officers (Early Childhood Development) in all regions in Victoria and Koorie Pre-School Assistants. Koorie Education Support Officers and Koorie Pre-School Assistants play an important role in providing advice and practical support to kindergartens to assist them in delivering programs that are respectful of cultural beliefs and practices for Koorie children.

Multi-functional Aboriginal Children Services (MACS) Established in 1980 as Aboriginal community controlled and multi-faceted child care services funded to meet the educational, social and developmental needs of Aboriginal children, MACS predominantly provide long day care services and at least one other form of child care or activity – such as outside school hours care, play groups, nutrition programs and/or parenting programs – to the community based on local needs. Six MACS operate in Victoria: • Berrimba Child Care Centre, Echuca • Bung Yarnda MACS, Lake Tyers • Gunai Lidj MACS, Morwell • Lulla’s Children and Family Centre, Shepparton • Robinvale MACS, Robinvale • Yappera MACS, Thornbury. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, work is proceeding to maximise integration of a range of maternal and child health, kindergarten and other family and community services through MACS.

Two Aboriginal Children and Family Centres are being established within the City of Whittlesea and in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland Shire in collaboration with local Aboriginal communities in those locations. A governance model will be established for the two new Aboriginal Children and Family Centres that enables the establishment of an integrated service. The centres will provide a dynamic mix of early childhood and family support services, including long day care, kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-old Aboriginal children, visiting professionals such as maternal and child health nurses, counsellors, midwives, Koorie early childhood field officers and other programs including In-Home Support and Early Childhood Intervention Services. Plans are in place to also deliver increased access to antenatal care, pre-pregnancy and teenage sexual and reproductive health in the two new centres.

31 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 1 Future directions Recognising both the challenges and the opportunities set out above, the VIAF has had early childhood and parenting as a key focus since its inception in 2006. The future directions following build on the strong Victorian approaches and infrastructure already in place and now being improved in partnership with the Commonwealth Government. Actions to be considered over the life of the plan To achieve the three main objectives of this plan in improving parenting and early childhood development, Victorian efforts over 2010–2020 will be focused in the following action areas. So that babies will be born healthy, we will work together to: • Improve services to ensure that all Aboriginal women have access to high-quality and culturally safe antenatal care and support through pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period, with particular focus on the first trimester of pregnancy and smoking during pregnancy.

• Sustain effort to ensure that all Aboriginal children and families have maternal and child health services contact and more targeted support (including In-Home Support) as needed in the first few years of life. So that parents will be capable, confident and supported, we will work together to: • Promote access to culturally appropriate parenting programs promoting resilience, particularly for young and first-time parents, and the engagement of Aboriginal fathers and men. These should be locally based, evidence-informed and focused on improved outcomes.

• Support families to adopt healthy lifestyles informed by evidence, including ensuring service availability as needed (for example, promoting brushing teeth and addressing dental service availability). • Develop strategies to ensure that primary school nurses work closely with Aboriginal families, possibly with the assistance of Koorie Liaison Officers. • Continue the partnership between community and government to implement Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: towards a safer future for Indigenous families and communities, the 10-year Victorian plan to reduce family violence.

• Undertake collaborative research into the underlying reasons for the high levels of life stressors experienced by Victoria Aboriginal families and children, effective ways to reduce child protection substantiations among Aboriginal children, and ways to improve the response to vulnerable children and young people. • Implement a Victorian early parenting strategy with a particular focus on providing practical parenting support tailored to the needs of vulnerable Aboriginal families.

32 Parenting and the early years Section 1 So that young children will be given opportunities to learn and thrive, we will work together to: • Promote active parental engagement in children’s education. • Ensure that all Aboriginal children can participate in kindergarten programs. • Customise arrangements supporting the transition to school to meet the needs of Aboriginal families. • Provide data and information to Aboriginal families and communities on the importance of the early years and how Aboriginal children are faring, and resource Aboriginal organisations to play a key role in transferring this knowledge.

• Explore ways to better support Aboriginal families where their child has a disability or developmental delay.

Section 2 “My artwork represents a turtle.” Artwork by Jordan Sazdova, age 12

Growing up as strong young people Section 2

35 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 Victoria’s Aboriginal population is young and growing, with 57 per cent under the age of 25. This represents an exciting opportunity. The energy and creativity of young people and the resilience of Aboriginal culture can break the cycle of disadvantage – if the Victorian community supports young people to reach their potential. Aboriginal young people face particular risks and problems in negotiating adolescence, and are at much higher risk of coming into contact with police.

The second section of this plan is about ensuring that Aboriginal children and young people have every chance to succeed in school and are supported to become active, valued young adults who can take advantage of employment, further education or training opportunities. Aboriginal young people have a lot to offer in becoming a strong voice and participating in their communities, confident and proud to be Aboriginal. Over the next 10 years the Victorian Government and Aboriginal organisations will focus on building positive pathways, pride and identity, and recognising that education is the key to building strong futures to support young people throughout and beyond the school years. What are our shared aspirations?

Children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture Aboriginal parents and communities regard educational success as the top priority for their children. This is a strong message of hope for future generations. Expectations are a strong predictor of children and young people’s educational outcomes (CPELL 2009, unpublished) and it is a shared aspiration that all Aboriginal children and young people and their families hold high expectations – and that these expectations are shared by their teachers and schools.

Young people will achieve rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school The later years of secondary schooling provide young people with different options in relation to education, training and employment pathways. To support successful outcomes, Aboriginal young people will receive culturally appropriate support and mentoring through this key transition period – so that they can make informed decisions about their futures. Section 2: Growing up as strong young people Aboriginal children and young people are encouraged to learn from Elders and respected persons and respect their cultural heritage; and to strive to maximise their potential in life. Dardee Boorai

36 Growing up as strong young people Young people will have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships Aboriginal young people in Victoria are positive about their futures. Schools, local communities and Aboriginal organisations will all play a part in welcoming their contribution, ensuring their perspective is sought and their views are respected. Victoria’s targets Victoria has agreed to the following targets to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people in school attendance, literacy and numeracy, and educational attainment. Achieving these targets will be a major step forward in delivering on the plan’s objectives for success in school and beyond, and will position Victoria to close the gap more fully over the longer term, beyond the life of this plan. Children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture • No gap in attendance for Prep to Year 6 between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students by 2013. • No gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal school attendance from Years 7 to 10 by 2013. •  Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students by 201814 .

Young people will achieve rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school • Increase commencement of Year 10 by Aboriginal students to 95 per cent by 2013. •  Halve the gap for Year 12 completion or equivalent between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people by 2020. •  Halve the gap in transition to employment and/or further education between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people by 2018. Young people will have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships There are no specific published targets for this aspiration. 14 Reading, writing and numeracy performance is measured using annual National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy assessments. More detailed information about Victorian performance targets which will shape monitoring and reporting are articulated in the VIAF. Section 2

37 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 How Aboriginal young people are faring The plan has been informed by the views and experience of Aboriginal young people, as well as that of parents, communities and organisations. It has also drawn on new data on adolescent health and wellbeing presented in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009 and the findings and recommendations of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development (VAED) Group’s recent report to Government, Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future.

Are children and young people succeeding in school, supported in their identity and culture? The Aboriginal community sees education as the key to overcoming disadvantage and building Balert Boorron. In consultations, young people and families alike expressed their educational aspirations. We want our Aboriginal young people to complete Year 12, undertaking post-compulsory education; learning and following similar paths to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. (Focus group participant) While the Wannik Education Strategy is expected to drive significant improvement in educational outcomes for Aboriginal young people, there is still a considerable way to go.

Communities have highlighted the challenges faced by Aboriginal children and young people when they are the only, or one of a few, Aboriginal children in their school. A small number of schools are located in areas where there is a high number of Aboriginal people and students. In 2010 there are, however, 1126 Aboriginal children in Victorian government schools with enrolments of three or fewer Aboriginal children. Aboriginal young people in Victoria who are attending school are doing well in literacy and numeracy testing in comparison to overall national results for Aboriginal young people (see Table 3). Average scores for Aboriginal students are rising, although they are still lower than those of non-Aboriginal students.

38 Growing up as strong young people Table 3: Proportion of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy, Victoria and Australia, 2009 Year 3 Year 5 Year 7 Year 9 Vic Aust Vic Aust Vic Aust Vic Aust Reading Aboriginal 87.2 75.1 84.8 66.7 84.4 73.2 79.3 67.0 non-Aboriginal 95.8 94.8 94.6 93.1 95.7 95.0 94.7 93.5 Writing Aboriginal 90.7 79.9 84.1 70.1 80.1 69.9 68.6 59.0 non-Aboriginal 96.9 96.6 95.1 94.2 94.0 93.7 90.8 89.2 Spelling Aboriginal 85.0 69.6 84.8 71.5 81.4 74.3 72.8 66.1 non-Aboriginal 95.0 93.5 94.8 93.6 93.9 93.8 91.3 90.9 Grammar and punctuation Aboriginal 86.2 68.7 84.0 64.3 78.5 64.9 70.4 60.8 non-Aboriginal 95.5 93.8 95.2 93.6 94.5 93.5 93.1 91.8 Numeracy Aboriginal 89.4 74.0 86.9 74.2 85.4 75.8 83.8 75.0 non-Aboriginal 96.1 95.2 95.9 95.3 96.3 95.8 96.7 96.0 Source: The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs 2009 Between Years 7 and 9, the most significant gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students emerges. In 2009, school attendance rates dropped in Year 9 (81 per cent compared with 91 per cent for the overall Victorian population) and there was a drop in school performance, making it clear that a significant proportion of Aboriginal young people are disengaging from school. As a result, completion of secondary schooling remains a minority experience.

• In 2006, approximately 36.6 per cent of Aboriginal persons aged 20–24 years completed Year 12 or equivalent, whereas 88.7 per cent of total young people achieved this (ABS 2008a). • The comparable figure for Aboriginal young people residing in rural Victoria is even lower – at 27.7 per cent (DEECD 2010). A large number of Victorian Aboriginal young people are choosing to complete their secondary study outside the school system through training pathways. • In 2008, there were 1600 school-aged (15–19-year-old) Aboriginal students enrolled in the VET sector (Skills Victoria 2010, unpublished).

• There were 1089 Aboriginal students aged 20–24 enrolled in the VET sector (Skills Victoria 2010, unpublished). Section 2

39 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 The number of Aboriginal people (of all ages) undertaking VET increased by 9.8 per cent from 2007 to 2008. Aboriginal people who complete study at a TAFE institute and enrol in further study are unlikely to enrol in university (National Centre for Vocational Education Research 2008). The opportunities and choices presented to young people during adolescence are complex and challenging. Decisions relating to education, employment, health and relationships can have an enduring impact on their lives. Table 4 shows that the vast majority of Aboriginal young people aspire to complete Year 12 and pursue further education or a trade.

Families face higher rates of life stressors and there is a greater prominence of the impediments to school success in the lives of Aboriginal children (see text box following, Barriers to success). This leaves Aboriginal young people – on average – much more vulnerable than their non-Aboriginal peers to common, but risky, adolescent behaviours that in turn become impediments to positive development. For example: • Those who do drink are more likely to have reported drinking more that five alcoholic drinks in a row, at 37.8 per cent, in the last two weeks compared to 18.3 per cent of non-Aboriginal young people. • Smoking is more common, with 36.1 per cent of Aboriginal young people reporting having ever smoked as opposed to 24.9 per cent of non-Aboriginal young people.

• Aboriginal young people are slightly more likely to report having used illicit drugs. In the 15–16-year-old age group, 21.7 per cent of Aboriginal and 15.4 per cent of other young people reported ever using illicit drugs. Evidence shows that these behaviours and early school leaving are more likely to occur together. Table 4: The highest level of education Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students would like to achieve, Victoria, 2009 Percentage of students Aboriginal Non-Aboriginal Less than Year 12 10.8* 4.4 Year 12 18.9 8.2 TAFE/Trade/Apprenticeship 28.6 17.8 University 41.7 69.7 Notes: (a) Data were collected from students in school years 7, 9 and 11 and contain a very small number of persons aged 18 and over.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent and should be used with caution. Source: Victorian Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey, DEECD, 2009.

40 Growing up as strong young people Barriers to success The capacity of young people to succeed in school – and complete secondary school – is limited by the cumulative impact of stressors on families and the difficult circumstances of a disproportionate number of vulnerable families, as set out in Section 1 (see page 23). As children move through primary and into secondary school, the barriers to success include: Low income: Aboriginal children and young people are much more likely to grow up in poorer families than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. The median weekly family income for Victoria’s Aboriginal families is almost half of that for all families: $688 compared to $1209 (ABS 2006).

Insecure housing and homelessness: In 2007–08, some 2300 Aboriginal children and young people were in families accessing supports and services due to homelessness.15 Health: Many health issues disproportionately affect Aboriginal children and young people. For example, they are significantly more likely to experience dental health and hearing problems, which can have a major impact on learning and development. Disability: Aboriginal children and young people also report higher rates of disability (physical, hearing or intellectual) that require assistance with core activities: 2.9 per cent compared to 1.6 per cent of non- Aboriginal children. These issues most commonly arise in the early school years. Early pregnancy: Aboriginal women aged under 20 are nearly five times more likely to become pregnant than Victorian women under 20 generally. These mothers face higher risks of poorer birth outcomes, cessation of education and subsequent unemployment and poor housing conditions, compared to older mothers.

Behavioural and emotional problems: Parents of Aboriginal children are more likely to report being concerned about their child’s behaviour (11.9 per cent) than parents of non-Aboriginal children (4.5 per cent). Violence: Aboriginal young people are significantly more likely to experience violence than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Aboriginal children are much more likely to be caught up in incidents of family violence. Child abuse: Aboriginal children and young people are 10 times more likely to be the victim of substantiated child abuse or neglect; 11 times more likely than other young people to be the subject of a care and protection order and 11 times more likely to be in out-of-home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010).

Contact with the criminal justice system: Aboriginal young people are more likely to have early contact with the criminal justice system (either as a victim or alleged perpetrator). Early contact further increases the risk of more serious offending later in life. Racism and bullying: Aboriginal young people report racism, bullying and discrimination within schools and other educational settings, which is likely to impede educational engagement. Section 2 15 These figures only include children and young people accompanying an adult parent. They do not include young people who accessed services unaccompanied as teenagers.

41 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 Do young people achieve rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school? Aboriginal young people certainly aspire to rewarding employment, training and educational pathways. Over 40 per cent of Aboriginal secondary school students aspire to attend university. When the respondent of Aboriginal children aged 4–14 years were asked about the type of support that would help them to complete Year 12, some 80 per cent of respondents suggested that support from family, friends and school would be the most important source, followed by career guidance (52.3 per cent) and individual tutoring (46.5 per cent); 23.6 per cent of respondants believed that increased discipline would help a young person complete Year 12. However, as previously discussed (page 23 and Figure 5), many Aboriginal children come from families experiencing significant life stress and disadvantage that act as barriers to success. Research shows that young people who leave school before Year 12 are less likely to participate in the labour force and more likely to experience periods of unemployment and to receive lower wages (Access Economic 2005). Early school leavers are also more likely to face health-related problems such as stress and anxiety due to job uncertainty (Vinson 2007).

Despite enhanced attention to the transition from school, almost a quarter of Victoria’s Aboriginal young people aged 15–24 are not in education, training or employment (SCRGP 2009). University enrolments have grown, although in 2006 only 6.6 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians had a degree – one-third the rate for the whole population (ABS 2006). Recognising the importance of ensuring successful transitions from school to further education, training and employment, the Victorian Government asked the VAED group to specifically focus on this area in its report and advice to Government. The Group’s report, Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future, was released on 26 May 2010.

Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future – the report of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Group The VAED Group found that some young Aboriginal people have not had the opportunity to develop aspirations to complete school and enter the workforce. This contributes to early disengagement from school, holds back educational achievement and makes it difficult to gain a foothold in the labour market. Crucially, it means many young Aboriginal people are not gaining the skills and capabilities needed to participate in the economy. To build the confidence and career aspirations of young Aboriginal people, the Group recommended that the world of work be brought directly into school by: •  building relationships between employers, students and their families to create pathways into employment and further education and training from the start of secondary school •  providing career development activities, such as open days, from the start of secondary school, and part- time employment and work experience •  making school more interesting by bringing sport, art and culture together with education •  establishing re-engagement projects in places with significant numbers of disengaged young Aboriginal people.

42 Growing up as strong young people Do young people have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships? When asked about what it is like being an Aboriginal young person growing up in Victoria, the young people consulted in preparing this plan were very clear. Overwhelmingly, Aboriginal young people have a great sense of pride in their culture. I like being different from the other kids. I like being part of a culture that has a long and important history and a strong community. (Digital Stories) Young people were also very clear about the negative impact that racism and discrimination can have on their lives. Racism brings your confidence down; straight down to ground level … it is the number one problem in our community. (Focus group participant) Some young people have also experienced resistance from their community, a conflict between being told to ‘stand up and speak out’ and ‘to stop being cheeky and sit down’. Similarly, there were examples of young people getting an education and qualifications and then returning to their community, only to be challenged. When we do leave our community to be somebody, to be a leader, we still get disconnected … We are told that we have forgotten what goes on in community or how community works and we are not part of it. It’s all that lateral violence16 type stuff. When you start to achieve you are brought down. It’s universal and it’s dangerous. (Focus group participant) Communities and young people reinforced the positive impact of mentoring on outcomes for young people and the importance of having strong Aboriginal role models, and this is identified as an area for future efforts. As more and more role models emerge, other young people see what might be possible for themselves. (Focus group participant) Summary of findings Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future and our consultations with Aboriginal young people highlight the critical importance of Aboriginal students having access to high-quality career advice early in secondary school (from Years 7 and 8) to support their aspirations to succeed. This advice should be accessible to both students and their families. Mentoring has also been shown to be of particular value. Although many parents have high aspirations, consultation suggests that schools can work better with parents to support these expectations.

Parents don’t speak encouragingly enough about school, or [they] see school as a babysitting service. They don’t have a partnership with the school. They don’t get encouraged to come into the schools. Culturally appropriate programs are important, but education of parents is important. (Focus group participant) Aboriginal young people face increased risks, including disengagement from school and/or training and contact with the criminal justice system. In some cases disengagement takes place quite early, making it important to focus on early intervention and supporting Aboriginal young people through key transition points – from primary to secondary school and when they move from secondary school into further education, training or employment. Similarly, it is important that programs contribute to preventing crime and building safer communities; some initiatives funded under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement are important in this regard. Section 2 16 ‘Lateral violence’happens when people who are both victims of a situation of violence turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both.

43 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 Aboriginal workers and communities consulted proposed an increase in the number of Aboriginal youth programs, suggesting that there is a gap in services for young people who are at risk of, but not yet involved in, the statutory child protection or youth justice system. Why are all the Indigenous support services concentrated on crisis areas? (Focus group participant) The Government has acknowledged the important role that education can play in improving life outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people. The actions below reinforce the principles of the Wannik Education Strategy and support its effective implementation across the school system. They also reflect key recommendations of Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future aimed at building confidence to succeed in education, developing career aspirations and re-engaging those not participating in education, employment or training.

What Victoria is doing The Victorian community has built a strong education and training system for its children and young people. There is considerable diversity amongst schools, including within the Victorian Government sector, with a strong tradition of community and parent involvement. VET is available across the state through TAFE institutes as well as through private or non-profit registered training organisations and through adult, community and further education providers. Victoria also has nine universities, with campuses in regional centres as well as metropolitan Melbourne offering higher education. Both the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments fund the VET sector. This includes apprenticeships, traineeships and labour market programs for unemployed young people. The Commonwealth also funds universities.

Over the past decade, additional Victorian investment has strengthened and expanded school education and the VET sector, placing particular emphasis on the transition from school into other education settings or employment. In particular, the Victorian Government has: • Provided for an extra 8600 full-time equivalent teachers and support staff in schools, and commenced rebuilding, extending or modernising all government schools by 2017, with more than 800 already completed. • Made a series of commitments to provide support for young people to stay engaged in education and training with pathways to meaningful employment. These commitments include three additional Transition Support Workers within the Youth Transition Support Initiative for a 12 month pilot period, expansion of the Managed Individual Pathways program to Koorie students in Years 8 and 9 to provide for early intervention and the Wannik requirement for all government schools with Koorie students to use the Student Mapping Tool. • Introduced a Youth Training Guarantee of a place at a TAFE institute or another public training institution for all students under the age of 20 completing Year 12 or equivalent, and provided for an additional 172,000 VET places. Building on the report of the VAED Group, the Victorian Government is investing in a new Aboriginal Economic Development Agenda. A key focus of this new agenda is to create opportunities for young Aboriginal people to participate in the economy by creating stronger links between education, training and employment. It will also provide young people with opportunities to learn from role models and mentors, while supporting them to develop their own leadership skills.

Victoria’s educational infrastructure, from primary schools to TAFE institutes and universities, provide pathways to improved outcomes for Aboriginal young people. The VAED Group’s report and recommendations provide a comprehensive framework for ensuring more young Aboriginal people successfully transition from school

44 Growing up as strong young people to further education, training and employment. The initiatives discussed in the next section form a strong foundation for the recommendations in this plan. So that children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture Wannik Education Strategy is the Victorian Government’s strategy developed in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. It aims to ensure that every Aboriginal child and young person in Victoria receives a high-quality education in a system that respects, recognises and celebrates cultural identity. Initial steps have introduced: • Scholarships for high-performing Aboriginal students in Year 11 • Improved teacher practice through the employment of additional specialist literacy coaches • Supplementary tutorial programs for students who are not at the expected standard in English and mathematics • An expansion to the Koorie education workforce – one of the central elements in improving outcomes for Aboriginal children.

Wannik Education Strategy This strategy aims to develop a culturally inclusive education system, better meeting the literacy needs of students and strengthening the accountability of schools. Through the Wannik Education Scholarship program, introduced in 2009, 20 scholarships are available annually for students identifying as Aboriginal. These are valued at $2500 per year for two years for students who have completed Year 10 in a government school and intend to enrol in Victorian Certificate of Education, Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning or VET subjects in a government school. Fifteen Koorie Literacy Coaches have been appointed as part of the Literacy Improvement Teams initiative to provide expert advice and assistance on classroom practice in schools with Indigenous students. During 2010, the Victorian Government is investing an additional $13.2 million into the Wannik tutorial programs, making a total of $22.6 million over four years. Actions taken as part of this additional investment include: • The addition of Years 2, 3, 5 and 7 to make the program more comprehensive. •  Eligibility criteria for Years 2–10 Koorie students being based on school assessment for any student who falls below C level for Literacy and Numeracy in the previous year.

•  All Koorie students receiving tutoring funding in Years 11 and 12. •  Schools having the flexibility to determine the best method of providing tutorial support to maximise student learning outcomes – one-on-one support, group tutorials, homework clubs or a combination of these. • Schools being able to bank tutoring hours to use for study periods or camps in Years 11 and 12. •  All metropolitan schools with eligible Koorie students now receive funding, as the requirement for a minimum cohort of 20 students has been removed.

The Government has reshaped the Koorie support workforce to ensure that it can best deliver on their reform agenda while ensuring that the skills and experience of the current workforce are enhanced. Koorie Education Support Officers engage with parents and community and are now supported by Koorie Education Coordinators in each region in Victoria. Section 2

45 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 So that young people will achieve rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school Wannik Education Strategy has a particular focus on helping young people plan their secondary education and providing support in the transition from school to further education, training or employment. Moonda Wurrin Gree – Pathways to a Better Economic Future builds on the strong base provided by Wannik to provide a framework to further strengthen pathways through school and into further education, training and employment. As recommended in the report, the Victorian Government is implementing the following suite of transition initiatives: •  Through the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions:  Seven Koorie Transition Coordinators will be introduced across the State to work with young Aboriginal people and their families to ensure successful transitions from school into further education, training and employment.

 The Workplace Learning Coordinators Program is being implemented, where one of the expected outcomes is to increase the number of Aboriginal students undertaking workplace learning placements.  There will be an increased focus on the transition of young Aboriginal people by Local Learning and Employment Networks.  The re-engagement of young Aboriginal people back into education and training will be targeted through the Youth Connections program.  Career development initiatives, including careers mentoring, are being implemented. •  The Victorian Government is partnering with schools, communities, employers, philanthropy and the Commonwealth Government to establish five Clontarf football academies and three Dance Academies across the State that will motivate and assist young Aboriginal people to stay in school. •  The Managed Individual Pathways initiative has been expanded to provide Aboriginal students in years 8 and 9 with individual pathway plans to enable successful transitions through the post compulsory years to further education, training or full-time employment.

46 Growing up as strong young people The Wurreker Strategy, prepared in partnership with VAEAI, aims to improve Aboriginal access, participation and outcomes in the VET sector. Since 1999, the number of Aboriginal VET students has risen by over 50 per cent (Skills Victoria 2009). The following actions are being taken to encourage completion in VET: •  Aboriginal students are required to pay only the minimum tuition fee applicable for a government-funded course. In addition, the Government is introducing a TAFE scholarship program for Aboriginal people who are required to undertake training at a level below their current qualifications, where there is a real job opportunity.

•  Individual Learning Plans are developed for Aboriginal students in TAFE to identify specific learning needs and to monitor student progress. •  Koorie Liaison Officers are located at TAFE campuses throughout Victoria to provide course and career counselling and individual student support to Aboriginal learners at all stages of their TAFE course. Other targeted transition initiatives supported by Skills Victoria include: • The Academy of Sport Health and Education in Shepparton, which is a partnership between Rumbalara Football and Netball Club and the University of Melbourne. The centre offers programs in sport and community recreation, Aboriginal health work and a broad range of short courses to local young people. • The Priority Education and Training Program (Koorie) supports the delivery of training for the development of skills and knowledge that enables participation in the workforce, specifically in industries where there is unmet demand for the training of pre-entrants or existing workers.

So that young people have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships The Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement includes strategies in partnership with community to minimise Aboriginal over-representation in the criminal justice system by improving the accessibility, utilisation and effectiveness of justice-related programs and services. Key strategies for young people include mentoring and pro-social, locally based programs such as the Frontline program.

Promoting the voice of young people VIYAC provides an important voice for Aboriginal young people, including as an advocate to government. As a result of the Victorian Indigenous Community Leadership and Capacity Building Strategy, many of the local Indigenous networks are actively seeking the involvement of younger people in activities, including mentoring processes. Section 2

47 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 2 Future directions Improving educational outcomes is essential to overcoming disadvantage. It is clear that Aboriginal young people have strong views about their future. Many have high aspirations and want to be valued and heard and to make a contribution within both the Aboriginal community and the broader community. Some of the following actions directly reflect the feedback given by young people throughout the consultation process, such as the importance of sport and art in the lives of Aboriginal young people and the value seen in mentor programs and peer education programs.

One of the best ways to ensure that future policies meet the needs of Aboriginal young people is to ensure that their advice is sought. As one Aboriginal young person suggested: We just think as a different generation; we need to be able to speak out. (Focus group participant) Actions to be considered over the life of the plan So that children and young people will succeed in school, supported in their identity and culture, we will work together to: • Continue to implement the Wannik Education Strategy to ensure that schools and services are well equipped to support Aboriginal students to engage and attend, with a particular focus on:  Building a strong, culturally inclusive curriculum and providing more opportunities for young people to feel proud to be Aboriginal.

 Enabling more opportunities for Elders to be involved in education to ensure that history and culture is understood by teachers, peers and the community.  Developing stronger partnerships and referral pathways between schools and the broader Aboriginal service sector to build capacity for schools and education providers to address the wellbeing of young people. • Increase opportunities for all Aboriginal young people to engage in pro-social activity, such as sporting events and activities. • Increase the engagement of students with the education system by the provision through the Wannik Education Strategy of sport and recreation-based programs such as the Clontarf Football Academies and Wannik Dance Academies.

• Improve the transition of students from primary to secondary school through the use of Individual Education Plans, the transfer of academic data and the support of Koorie Engagement Support Officers where necessary. • Develop better supports for families of Aboriginal young people with disabilities or mental illness, or those suffering trauma and grief, to address the particular issues and challenges they face.

48 Growing up as strong young people Section 2 So that young people will achieve rewarding employment, training or educational pathways after leaving school, we will work together to: • Develop strategies to better meet the needs of young parents, with a particular focus on keeping young parents engaged in education. • Provide Aboriginal students with high-quality career advice and work experience opportunities from Years 7 and 8. • Build on existing tools such as Individual Education Plans and Managed Individual Pathways to identify how career advice will support Aboriginal students to form relationships with potential employers and further education and training providers, and to create clear transition pathways. • Provide access to mentors who can support Aboriginal students to realise their educational and career development aspirations.

• Ensure that engagement initiatives, including activities linked to sport, art and culture and career development advice, are provided from Years 7 and 8 and involve students’families. • Provide targeted re-engagement activities in identified areas of high rates of early school leaving. So that young people have a strong voice in their communities, and feel supported and valued, with skills to build healthy, respectful relationships, we will work together to: • Actively encourage young people to have a voice in the community by providing greater support for community youth organisations (such as VIYAC), to enhance youth involvement in decisions affecting their lives.

• Enhance pathways to positive youth programs and provide opportunities for young people to share their skills with the community. • Build on successful Frontline initiatives, and on Koorie Youth Justice strategies, to prevent youth offending and build safer communities. • In line with the Government’s Respect Agenda, support young people to build respectful relationships and make positive decisions relating to drugs (including smoking) and alcohol, with programs tailored to the needs of particular locations.

• Promote access to peer education for young people about sexual health, intimate relationships, pregnancy and choice in parenthood.

49 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 “Symbolising a common unity with black and white coming together for the future of our communities and country.” Artwork by Ebonie Walker, age 15

50 Section Heading Families, culture and community Section 3

51 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 Family, culture and community lie at the heart of the experience of being Aboriginal in Victoria today. Cultural connectedness and confidence have been identified as a significant protective factor for families as they face the stresses and challenges that confront them. Dardee Boorai acknowledges the strengths and centrality of culture and family in building resilience and improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people. Its principles commit community and government to work together to support Aboriginal children and young people to grow strong and proud of their identity, free from racism and discrimination. It also acknowledges people’s rights to justice and equity, and the collective responsibility of all parties in ensuring the best environment for children to thrive.

The third section of this plan is about ensuring that families, children and young people are genuinely free to be Aboriginal in Victoria today – that their Aboriginality is something to be celebrated and strengthened. This includes actively providing opportunities for children and young people to explore and rework connections and traditions. It also means ensuring that they can be brought up safe from the damaging effects of racism and discrimination. The effects of the past also need to be addressed. The widespread experience of child removal, poverty and violence means that healing and reconciliation are a continuing priority for Aboriginal Victorians. Action in this area will support the success of actions in the early and later years of childhood, as set out in Sections 1 and 2. In today’s Australia, most Aboriginal children and families live in two cultures – their own Aboriginal culture, which has been subject to abuse and denial by the wider community – and mainstream culture. This hybrid sense of self creates confusion and can cause low self-esteem. For all of us we need a strong sense of identity to enable strong self-esteem. (Hunter & Lewis 2006) What are our shared aspirations? Children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture Consultation with Aboriginal young people and families revealed a hunger for culture and connection, and the recognition that family offers the primary path to culture and identity.

For Aboriginal people, family is a concept that goes beyond immediate relatives and includes a complex network of relationships and connections. Relationships, responsibilities and obligations to Section 3: Families, culture and community The Victorian Government commits to respect the priorities and values of Aboriginal people. Dardee Boorai Key roles for the Aboriginal community are to teach Aboriginal children and young people their cultural heritage and obligations and foster pride in their identity as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Dardee Boorai

52 Families, culture and community community are the deep undercurrents of Aboriginal culture. They stretch across generations and families to form strong and enduring bonds. Culture is enmeshed in family, community and connection to land. Knowing who you are and your place in community is fundamental to building a strong, proud identity as an Aboriginal person. There is a growing recognition of the need to support the many Aboriginal people not living on their tribal lands or cut adrift from their culture.

Culture and cultural identity can have a powerful impact on outcomes for children and young people, and promotion of culture is a key factor in building resilience in families and young people (Bamblett & Lewis 2009). Research has shown that emotional wellbeing is five times higher in children in very remote communities than for Aboriginal children in urban areas (Zubrick et al. 2005). Cultural safety and support can also play an important part for children and young people who have lost family, suffered violence or neglect, or who are caught up in dangerous or damaging activity. Children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination Racism and discrimination continue to be too common an experience for Aboriginal children and young people, despite laws to curtail these. Racism and discrimination limit opportunities and undercut Aboriginal achievement.

Aboriginal children and young people can thrive in a broader community that acknowledges and celebrates the diversity and richness of Victorian Aboriginal culture. Recognition and inclusion is a task for school communities and also for local communities on which families rely. Government and community want to have a safer and healthier environment for Aboriginal families and provide the best possible life chances for their children. Healing and reconciliation can take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion Victorian Aboriginal culture has proven remarkably adaptive despite the devastating impact of colonisation. However, Aboriginal people, families and communities are still suffering from the legacy of widespread dispossession, and the impact of child removal and family separation policies had a profound effect on a significant proportion of Victorian Aboriginal communities. Separation of families from country and from each other has disrupted traditional parenting practices and family dynamics.

Even those families who did not have children taken away lived with the constant fear of losing their children; the impact of this fear on Aboriginal communities should not be underestimated. The need for healing was a recurring theme throughout the consultation. Individual and community grief and trauma resulting from generations of loss of children, family, community and culture needs to be acknowledged as a first step in the healing process. Aboriginal people need self-healing … until they have gone through that process they have no hope in helping their children to a better life ... If you can’t nurture them and give them what they need as little ones they will go down the same track as we have too. (Focus group participant) Section 3

53 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 Aboriginal communities and organisations emphasised the important role that healing spaces and programs have in dealing with grief and trauma, as well as in breaking down patterns of violence and conflict within and between communities. The impact of colonisation on Aboriginal health outcomes The Australian Medical Association links poor health outcomes with colonisation (Australian Medical Association 2009): The loss of purpose, cultural meaning and control that has resulted from cultural dispossession and family dislocation has played a profound role in the inordinate ill health and premature deaths of Indigenous males.

The Association also notes that the majority of ill health suffered by Aboriginal men is preventable and best addressed through providing greater access to culturally safe services, and by increasing Aboriginal community control of early intervention and community health. Citing the landmark Canadian research on the links between Indigenous self-determination and community control and suicide, the Association recommends capacity building (more Aboriginal people in the health sector), cultural safety in the health system, local community preventive programs, culturally appropriate health promotion, and mental health, social and emotional wellbeing services.

How Aboriginal families and communities are faring The plan has been informed by the experience and insight of Aboriginal communities and organisations, and particularly by commissioned research into: • the resilience of Aboriginal families • the impact of racism and discrimination on children and parenting. Are children and young people strong and safe in their identity and culture? Consultation with Aboriginal young people highlighted a widespread feeling of loss and disconnection from culture. This was mirrored in a desire for Aboriginal children and young people to be strong in their cultural identity and to learn from parents and Elders.

Victorian Aboriginal communities have gone from having up to 40 distinct languages prior to colonisation to fragments of a handful of languages with English as a first language. Children from the Stolen Generations were commonly forbidden to speak their language, further isolating them from their culture. Despite the fracturing effects of colonisation, Aboriginal culture has adapted. Almost two-thirds of Victorian Aboriginal parents report that they identify with a particular clan, language or tribal group. However, The State of Victoria’s Children 2009 finds that: • Younger age cohorts were less likely to identify with a particular group. • Nearly two-thirds of Victorian Aboriginal children aged 3–17 years report having no contact or do not know Aboriginal leaders or Elders.

• Most Victorian Aboriginal people report that they have few or no Aboriginal friends (67 per cent compared to 40 per cent nationally).

54 Families, culture and community • Nineteen per cent of Aboriginal parents report having no family members they could confide in compared to 9 per cent of non-Aboriginal parents. • Only 52 per cent of parents report that Aboriginal culture was taught to their children in school. While over half of Aboriginal parents had been involved in some form of cultural event in the previous 12 months, almost a third of cultural participation was related to funerals and sorry business (matters relating to bereavement).

Do children and young people live in communities free from racism and discrimination? Stories of the damaging effects of interpersonal and systemic racism recurred throughout the consultation. Similarly, the VIYAC report (2009), VIYAC Voices: Telling it Like it Is, Young Aboriginal Victorians on Culture, Identity and Racism, documented powerful stories of the constancy of racism that has become the norm for so many Aboriginal people. A number of studies have identified racism as ‘a substantial issue in the everyday lives of Victorian Aboriginal children and young people’ and one that has a cumulative, damaging effect (Priest & Paradies 2009). A high proportion of Victorian respondents to the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Social Survey felt that they had been discriminated against in the previous 12 months. Common environments for experiencing racism include schools, TAFE institutes and universities, 28 per cent of Aboriginal young people aged 15–24 years17 reported feeling discriminated against in the previous 12 months in these educational settings. Negative school experience increases the likelihood of disengagement and drifting into the criminal justice system – another site where discrimination was reported. Discrimination was also experienced at home, by neighbours and in others’ homes.

Section 3 17 This figure should be used with caution as it has a standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

55 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 Figure 7 shows the proportion of Aboriginal people living in households across Victoria with children who felt discriminated against in the last 12 months. Figure 7: Proportion of Aboriginal persons, aged 15–24 years and 25 years and over in households with children, who felt discriminated against in the last 12 months or who avoided situations because of past discrimination, Victoria 2008 Notes: (a) ‘Avoid situations due to past discrimination’ is only asked of those who have not been discrimated against in the last 12 months. * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent and should be used with caution Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Social Survey, ABS 2008. Racism refers not just to discrimination but also to active hostility against both a people and its traditions. Racism is a pernicious, corrosive influence that damages both victim and perpetrator. There is a well- established link between the experience of racism and poor health outcomes. Experiences of racism are associated with a range of chronic poor mental and physical health outcomes from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular disease and increased alcohol, tobacco and drug use (Priest & Paradies 2009). Racism can occur at an individual level, but also more broadly.

• Systemic racism refers to ‘requirements, conditions, practices, policies or processes that maintain and reproduce avoidable and unfair inequalities across ethnic/racial groups. Systemic racism is the most pervasive form of racism across a range of life domains such as education, employment and housing. These life domains have, in turn, been found to strongly influence health and wellbeing’(Paradies et al. 2008). • Internalised racism manifests in an individual’s low expectations and aspirations of his/herself and is believed by some researchers to be the driver for ‘intra-racism’, also known as lateral violence. Schools have been identified as a common setting where Aboriginal children experience racism, both from fellow students and through distorted portrayals of history that do not reflect the Aboriginal experience (Priest & Paradies 2009).

5 Percentage 10 15 20 25 30 35 15–24 years Avoided situations due to past discrimination(a) Felt discriminated against in the last 12 months 21.6 *4.5 31.5 *10.6 25+ years Victoria

56 Families, culture and community Consultation undertaken for this plan generated stories of the corrosive effect of both individual and systemic racism, and the consequences of internalised racism when being Aboriginal is a cause for shame rather than pride. Is healing and reconciliation taking place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion? Victorian Aboriginal people have suffered markedly from past child removal polices; 12 per cent of respondents aged 15 years and over reported that they had been removed from their natural family and 47 per cent reported that they had a relative who had been removed.

The inherited grief and loss experienced by Aboriginal people has no boundaries and can include situational grief, cumulative trauma from ongoing experiences of racism, abuse or violence, and intergenerational trauma passed sometimes unconsciously through generations. (Sizer & Goodrick et al. 2009) Consultation identified that healing spaces appropriate for Aboriginal people were important for changing current patterns of health and wellbeing, noting that: • Issues that remain unresolved affect the whole community and influence the development and wellbeing of young children.

• Healing addresses cultural and situational grief, cumulative trauma from ongoing experiences of racism, abuse or violence, and intergenerational trauma. • Healing involves paying attention to the cause of grief, loss and trauma and is not confined to discussing the symptoms and identifying coping skills, as is common in some forms of counselling. There are a number of barriers to the health, safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal young people. One of the primary barriers identified by groups is unresolved grief and loss within the Aboriginal community. There is a need for culturally appropriate approaches that draw upon Aboriginal values, beliefs, and both traditional and contemporary practices. Healing is tied to the acknowledgment of the impact of colonisation and racism on Aboriginal people’s self-esteem and worth, and physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. (Sizer & Goodrick et al. 2009) Summary of findings Evidence from consultations, research and surveys demonstrates the importance of Aboriginal children and young people being able to learn and feel pride in their cultural identity if they are to succeed in schools and employment.

Families and communities create opportunities for children and young people to learn about culture and identity, and to ensure that culture is passed down to the next generation. The Victorian Government is responsible for the implementation of a culturally inclusive curriculum – recognising the importance of what Aboriginal children bring to a school – and for working in partnership with community to tell a more balanced history of colonisation. Cultural identity lies with us as parents. Government should encourage and support those things in the schools. (Focus group participant) Section 3

57 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 Culture can be expressed in a wide range of activities. While traditional activities such as camping, fishing, painting and dance remain important aspects of expressing and sharing stories and spirituality, Aboriginal culture is creative, humorous and adaptive. It continues to evolve to incorporate film, theatre and popular music forms such as hip-hop, digital stories, opera, sporting carnivals and festivals. Today Aboriginal culture can be expressed in songs and plays written in language that reflects the urban, as well as the rural and remote, experience. Research and consultation suggest that ignorance is the basis of most racism and that education and celebration of culture, in schools and in the wider community, are the keys to countering stereotypes. We [Australians] need to embrace Indigenous culture, learn our own history, support Indigenous people and move forward together. This needs to start in schools. Education has to be accountable for teaching and celebrating the real history of this country and embracing Indigenous culture. (Public consultation survey 2009) Recent research has pointed to language as a strong predictor of resilience in Aboriginal communities (Bamblett & Lewis 2009). Language is the primary medium for maintaining and passing on culture, and it connects Aboriginal people directly with the land and with tradition. Indigenous languages are a crucial and often missing part of the puzzle of tackling Indigenous disadvantage. Languages contain complex understandings of a person’s culture, their identity and their connection with their land. Language enables the transference of culture and cultural knowledge across generations. Languages are a source of pride and strength. Supporting languages can have flow-on benefits into broader educational, employment and health outcomes. Languages are a key to unlocking Indigenous disadvantage and crucial in the journey of reconciliation. (Gillbank 2008).

Victorian Aboriginal communities are working with the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages to reclaim and revive surviving languages through school programs, language camps, workshops, dictionaries, music and educational material. Connection to community and strong cultural identity were also linked to the capacity to be a future leader. Our community needs to be behind us in what we do. Yet if you come from an Aboriginal background where you are not strongly connected you feel like you almost can’t step up. It’s like a barrier. So connection to community and identity equals ability to be a leader. (Focus group participant) VIYAC’s 2009 report highlights racism and cultural identity as critical issues. Young Aboriginal people interviewed for this report were clear that pride in identity, knowing who they are and connection to community are key to being strong in the face of racism, stereotypes and low expectations (which are sometimes expressed as surprise when Aboriginal people are successful or doing well at school).

58 Families, culture and community What Victoria is doing The Victorian community is beginning to recognise both the important place of Aboriginal culture in shaping Victoria as it is today and the honour due to Aboriginal people – both as traditional landholders and as citizens. The Victorian Government has led this change, setting in place legislation and frameworks to formalise this recognition. • The Cultural Heritage Act 2006 provides mechanisms such as Cultural Heritage Management Plans and Cultural Heritage Permit processes to manage activities that may harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. A system of cultural heritage agreements support the development of partnerships around Aboriginal cultural heritage protection and management. The Aboriginal Heritage Council provides a statewide voice for Aboriginal people on issues relating to the management of cultural heritage.

• The Victorian Native Title Settlement Framework was introduced in 2009 and is a new approach to settling native title claims and addressing the land aspirations of Victorian Traditional Owner groups. It seeks out-of-court settlements of native title through direct negotiations between the State and Traditional Owner groups. The framework recognises the importance of increasing Aboriginal Victorians’access to traditional lands to strengthen and re-establish connections to country and culture.

• The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission oversees the implementation and promotion of human rights and obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 1995, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. These are strong legal protections against racism and discrimination. • Dardee Boorai, released in 2008, frames the Victorian Government commitment to improved outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people within a human rights framework, particularly the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Dardee Boorai sets out the Government’s commitment to address systemic racism and recognises the fundamental role of cultural respect in achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

So that children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture The Victorian Government acknowledges that the Aboriginal community has the lead role in relation to culture and helping children establish their cultural identity. The Government’s role is to support community in this and to ensure that the service system – particularly schools – and the way government works are culturally safe and respectful of Aboriginal culture. Acknowledgment of the impact of colonisation by the broader community is also linked to the capacity of the Aboriginal community to heal and recover from the trauma of past actions and policies. We want to hear the real Captain Cook story. That’s all we want to know; the real history instead of hiding it all. Because we won’t heal unless the truth of the past is acknowledged. The Government has done better, but it needs to be taught in the curriculum. (Focus group participant) Through the Wannik Education Strategy, the Victorian Government is committed to promoting awareness of Indigenous culture across the education system. Ensuring that Victoria’s schools are environments that respect, recognise and celebrate cultural identity through practice and curriculum is vital to the educational outcomes for Koorie students.

In particular, a culturally inclusive curriculum is currently being developed by VAEAI and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Section 3

59 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 3 To complement these actions, the Victorian Government is working to encourage greater knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal culture in the wider community. There is a legislative requirement for Cultural Support Plans for Aboriginal children subject to Guardianship and Long-Term Guardianship Orders placed in out-of-home care. These plans recognise the importance of culture, promote a child’s sense of identity as an Aboriginal person and enhance their connectedness to community. Each plan is a dynamic document, growing and changing with the child. Training programs, including the new Our Carers for Our Kids training and assessment package, are being provided for carers of Aboriginal children.

So that children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination As noted above, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission oversees the implementation and promotion of human rights and obligations which give Aboriginal adults and families protection, and recourse, against discrimination. The Victorian Government is also exploring complementary approaches to addressing issues of racism and discrimination and supporting Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities in being proud and strong in their culture.

An Aboriginal Inclusion Framework is being developed, and its implementation across Victorian Government departments and agencies will address some of the concerns raised during the consultation, particularly regarding cultural competency and systemic racism and discrimination. So that healing and reconciliation can take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion One step in healing and reconciliation is being able to tell the story and be heard. Stolen Generations Victoria has produced a number of resources to promote greater awareness of past practices and of child removal and their continuing impacts. Second Step is an education resource that provides background information, links to resources, suggestions for activities, and photos, stories and poems. It is designed to equip teachers with the knowledge, understanding and resources to teach the history of the Stolen Generations at any level in Victorian schools.

In the wake of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, the Commonwealth Government established the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation to work directly with communities to start dealing with their trauma and grief and to begin healing. Victorian communities have already begun developing proposals for consideration by government.

60 Families, culture and community Future directions ‘Cultural continuity’ is a key factor in creating resilience. Cultural participation for Aboriginal children and young people means learning from family and Elders, learning their country, language and stories, and hearing and understanding lore and custom. Participation is fundamental to knowing who they are and where they fit in the family and in community; without it relationships cannot be forged and nurtured across generations and community. Culture is a collective endeavour and participation is fundamental to its survival and renewal.

Children need to know their family lines and how kinship lines function so that they can explain it to other people. (VIYAC consultation 2010) The following proposed future directions build on existing efforts, which can only succeed with real and respectful partnership and clarity of roles of government and the Aboriginal community. Actions to be considered over the life of the plan So that children and young people will be strong and safe in their identity and culture, we will work together to: • Promote access to places to meet, share stories, revive and celebrate culture. • Strengthen connection to culture by providing opportunities for positive cultural experiences, particularly for children and young people, informed by further research into attitudes and barriers to cultural participation. So that children and young people will live in communities free from racism and discrimination, we will work together to: • Increase efforts to combat racism through community education programs, cultural safety in the service sector and curriculum changes.

• Work closely with local government on community-based cultural awareness initiatives. So that healing and reconciliation will take place for families and communities affected by trauma or exclusion, we will work together to: • Enhance access by young people and families to healing services from early childhood which combine the best of traditional and western healing practices, focusing on addressing grief, loss and trans-generational trauma. • Implement healing programs and spaces, including the development of men’s groups to address issues of identity.

• Conduct further research into the impact of the Stolen Generations on Victorian Aboriginal families and communities, given the high numbers of Aboriginal families in Victoria who were affected by child removal policies. Section 3

Section 4 “It shows that Aboriginal children are strong at playing sports and being happy.” Artwork by Japhet Nip, age 10

Services that work for Aboriginal families Section 4

63 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 All families benefit from the advice and assistance of professionals, particularly in the first few years of their child’s life. As children grow, schools take on an important role in monitoring children’s progress and assisting parents to find or mobilise appropriate supports. Directions to guide continued improvement of many of these individual programs or settings, such as schools or kindergartens, have been discussed in Sections 1 and 2.

The fourth section of this plan focuses directly on these services as a whole, and how they can work more effectively – and with Aboriginal community controlled organisations – in the interests of Aboriginal children, young people and families. Victoria has a comprehensive service system available for families. Most families use some of these services at some stage – hospitals, maternal and child health, early childhood education and care, schools, TAFE institutes and universities. Other services are directed to families with more specific or more demanding circumstances. For example, medical specialists, disability services, school psychologists, family support and parenting services. A small proportion of children and young people – but a ten-times larger proportion of Aboriginal children and young people – become clients of statutory child protection or youth justice services.

Alongside these services, Aboriginal people have constructed and sustained – with increasing government recognition and support – a range of community controlled organisations. Some are local cooperatives to bring services to a particular place; some are statewide bodies to challenge or complement government services; others represent a local population or group of communities. Many deliver a mix of health, community services, education, sport, business and arts to families. The challenge for Victoria is to ensure that the range of supports and services available to Aboriginal families continues to evolve, and to work together to better outcomes for children and young people. This requires not just more responsive general services and stronger Aboriginal organisations, but also developing ways to build stronger partnerships between them.

All Aboriginal families in Victoria, regardless of where they live, should, as far as is practicable, have access to and utilise a well-connected and integrated service network made up of both Aboriginal and general organisations which offer families culturally competent and high-quality services matching local needs. Action in this area will support actions in the early and later years of childhood, as set out in Sections 1 and 2. Section 4: Services that work for Aboriginal families The Victorian Government commits to: provide equitable, culturally competent service delivery of programs to support families to protect and improve the safety, health, development, learning and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people; and support the Aboriginal community controlled sector. Dardee Boorai Key roles for the Victorian Aboriginal community are to work through the Aboriginal community-controlled sector and with mainstream services to provide culturally safe services for Aboriginal children, young people and their families.

Dardee Boorai

64 Services that work for Aboriginal families Key Victorian Aboriginal Organisations Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association. Ltd. (VACSAL) Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services (VALS) Victorian Aboriginal Youth, Sport and Recreation (VAYSAR) Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council (VIYAC) Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Members (VACCHO) Bairnsdale Gippsland & East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative Ballarat Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative Bendigo Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative Echuca Njernda Aboriginal Cooperative Geelong Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative Halls Gap Budja Budja Aboriginal Cooperative Heywood Winda Mara Aboriginal Cooperative Horsham Golum Golum Aboriginal Cooperative Lake Tyers Lake Tyers Health & Children Service Melbourne Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Dandenong & District Aboriginal Cooperative Ngwala Willumbong Cooperative Mildura Mildura Aboriginal Cooperative Morwell Central Gippsland Aboriginal Health & Housing Co-operative Orbost Moogji Aboriginal Cooperative Portland Dhuawurd Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Service Robinvale Murray Valley Aboriginal Cooperative Rumbalara Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative Sale Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation Warrnambool Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative Ltd Other Aboriginal Organisations Mullim Mullim Indigenous Gathering Place, Croydon Section 4

65 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 What are our shared aspirations? Services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent The Victorian Government and the Aboriginal community share a common vision of a cohesive, culturally safe service system that includes both generally available and Aboriginal-specific services. Services need to be accessible to Aboriginal families, in some cases using outreach to overcome isolation, transience or mistrust. They need to be high quality, with a qualified and experienced workforce, because Aboriginal families may experience a higher burden of illness and/or are more likely to have complex health and other issues, compared to the broader population.

Technical competence will be matched by cultural competence. Services, including education and care settings, will be places where it is safe to identify as Aboriginal, where there is no stigma or negative consequence. They will provide welcoming environments and work within a family-centred model, recognising the wider family as understood in the Aboriginal community. Service delivery will be developed in consultation with families and young people to meet their identified needs. Aboriginal community controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive Aboriginal community controlled organisations play a very significant role in meeting the needs of families. They have often grown from within specific local communities and their work varies widely, but most offer a range of health, housing, aged or other community services.

These organisations will continue to offer a culturally safe model of service provision, designed specifically for Aboriginal people and engaging Aboriginal people in their governance and delivery. Aboriginal organisations will be resourced and strengthened to play these roles, working alongside and with other services where needed by families and communities. Partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher-need families Collaboration between general service providers and Aboriginal organisations, including sharing of resources and knowledge, is a key means to improve the technical and cultural competence of services and to sustain effort and expertise.

Victorian services, including schools, will interact effectively with other organisations in a spirit of cooperation and a shared goal of improving outcomes for children and young people, and their families. Collaboration will allow a greater emphasis on sustaining support for higher-need Aboriginal families, intervening before serious issues arise. As well as improving health and development outcomes, this will result in fewer Aboriginal children and young people coming into the child protection and youth justice systems. Those that do come into contact with crisis, or tertiary-level services, will be well supported in their transition to more positive pathways.

How the service system is working This plan has been informed by the views and experiences of parents and young people – service users – as well as communities and Aboriginal organisations. It has also drawn on commissioned research into the role of Aboriginal community controlled organisations and survey data on service use presented in The State of Victoria’s Children 2009.

66 Services that work for Aboriginal families What is working well? Aboriginal communities provided considerable and consistent feedback during the consultation about how well the service system, and particular elements within it, are working for families: • Koori Maternity Services • Best Start, particularly the associated supported playgroups • In-Home Support • Sporting programs for Aboriginal children and young people • Aboriginal Family Decision Making • Koorie Children’s Court. Are services accessible, high quality and culturally competent? The National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Social Survey asked respondents whether they had had any difficulties accessing services. Fourteen per cent of Victorian Aboriginal 15–24-year-olds and 33 per cent of Victorian Aboriginal people aged 25 years and over, reported problems accessing selected services. • Dental services were most often cited in this context, with approximately 50 per cent of all Aboriginal people aged 15 years and over reporting difficulty accessing services.

• Long waiting times followed by the cost of services, transport, lack of services and the lack of cultural appropriateness of service were the most commonly cited barriers. • With regards to level of trust in services, 43 per cent18 of Victorian Aboriginal parents aged 18–24 participating in the survey did not agree with the proposition that most people can be trusted. Participants were asked specifically about how strongly they agree or disagree that specified services can be trusted. Young Aboriginal parents (aged 18–24 years) reported trusting their own doctor most (85 per cent) followed by hospitals (66 per cent) and their local school (64 per cent).

Least trusted were police. Only 42 per cent agreed that police in their local area can be trusted compared to 71 per cent19 of non-Aboriginal young parents in Victoria. During consultations undertaken for this plan, a number of comments were made by Aboriginal families, services and organisations about the lack of cultural competence of some general services and the impact this has on attendance. This is of particular concern in light of research findings that: … mainstream support services that fail to recognise the nuances of the Aboriginal circumstances may not deliver significant enhancements in the overall wellbeing of Aboriginal families. (Walker & Shepherd 2008) The consultations support findings that some general services are not welcoming to Aboriginal families; in some cases because they so fear being culturally inappropriate that they would rather avoid working with Aboriginal families (Aboriginal Inclusion Framework 2010).

It was also suggested services which are welcoming to Aboriginal families and recognise the importance of the symbolic are most successful in engaging families. Section 4 18 This figure should be used with caution as it has a standard error of 25 per cent to 50 per cent. 19 Ibid.

67 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 And they’ve asked me things like, would you feel comfortable if I put the Aboriginal flag up the front. I said I can tell you right now that you’ll have 20 members walk in the door if they see the flag, that you recognised the Aboriginal community. (Focus group participant) One continuing challenge for service planners is that Aboriginal families are geographically dispersed, making it more difficult to offer specialised services (for example, early childhood intervention services to children with a disability or developmental delay).

There is concern among the Aboriginal community for young people and their families who are isolated from other Aboriginal families and/or services. A number of families live in areas where there are few Aboriginal people and no local Aboriginal-specific services. These families report finding local general services not particularly welcoming nor understanding of Aboriginal cultural issues. Are Aboriginal community controlled organisations strong and adaptive? Aboriginal organisations were often established as service providers because of discrimination or distrust – or because health or legal services were inaccessible or unaffordable. Many have developed a more flexible, more holistic approach to service delivery. For example, the multifunctional Aboriginal children’s services offer a much wider range of programs than most child care or kindergarten operators.

A major task for some organisations is to bridge the gap between Aboriginal families and communities and the generally available services, including schools or hospitals, to ensure that Aboriginal children and young people get the right attention. The Aboriginal community raised concerns over the role of Aboriginal organisations into the future. There were a number of suggestions about how governments and Aboriginal organisations could work together to ensure the best outcomes. For example, Aboriginal organisations need to have a stronger presence in youth service delivery. Consultation suggested that the delivery of youth services to Aboriginal young people across Victoria is patchy and that: … governments need to empower local Aboriginal communities through provision of funding for youth service delivery. (Survey respondent) Priority should be given to expanding the capacity of ACCOs [Aboriginal community controlled organisations] to deliver services to Aboriginal children, young people and families across the continuum of care, and to funding their community, cultural and capacity-building roles. (Frizzell 2009) This view was shared by staff at the VACCA who stressed a need to strengthen the Aboriginal services sector in the areas of maternal health, general health, early childhood education, child care, child and family welfare, and family support (VACCA submission 2009).

There is also a need for Aboriginal organisations to be supported to undertake research and evaluation about the impact their services are having on improving outcomes for Aboriginal families (VACCA submission 2009). This research and evaluation activity is important, not just in terms of accountability to governments and to the Aboriginal consumer of these services but also as part of a continuous improvement strategy. Aboriginal community members are clear about the key challenges for services working with Aboriginal families over the next 10 years, including developing and maintaining a highly qualified and competent workforce to enable the following challenges to be addressed.

68 Services that work for Aboriginal families Demographic challenges include: • The geographic dispersal of the Aboriginal community and changing residence patterns driven by limited housing options for families. • The growth in the number of Aboriginal young people, with a 25 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal children expected by 2021. This increase will have an impact on service demand and infrastructure for all services working with Aboriginal families, but particularly for Aboriginal organisations. Consultation suggested that there has not been enough planning for future infrastructure and facilities requirements, and that work needs to start to ensure that adequate resources will be available to ensure that services and organisations are responsive to population increases in communities.

All too often in Indigenous affairs, policy has been ‘reactive’ by responding to historic levels of need, thereby creating a constant sense of catch up. What is required if policy is to be an effective catalyst for change is a ‘proactive’ methodology which seeks to anticipate and plan for expected requirement. (Taylor 2006) Programs designed, implemented and driven by local communities in response to local issues were also considered to be more effective. We need funding … to deliver services that are culturally appropriate … There seems to be a one size fits all [approach] to Aboriginal affairs. If something works well somewhere else in WA they will say, let’s take this way across the other side of the country … we are distinct communities. Government should fund and support individual communities. (Focus group participant) Aboriginal families expressed strong views that programs and services working well should be supported and sustained: Everyone talked about this great model but yet again it is a one-off program/project. How many times have we had really great projects? They are funded for three years and then they stop. One of the key things is we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, they are great but they stop. (Focus group participant) Do partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher-need families? Developing and sustaining partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations remains challenging: While government policy suggests that partnerships will achieve the best outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and families, evidence suggests partnerships are not widespread and that in many instances both ACCOs [Aboriginal community controlled organisations] and mainstream organisations struggle to build and maintain partnerships. The purpose, role and type of partnerships required to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and families, warrants further discussion and conceptualisation. (Frizzell 2009) Section 4

69 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 Aboriginal organisations, often relatively small, sometimes overburdened and responsible for delivery of a very small part of a number of government programs to a complex client group, can find themselves called upon to engage in a number of alliances or networks (Frizzell 2009). For this reason, it is to be expected that partnerships will occur more successfully if they operate on a capacity- building model. Engaging with organisations such as VIYAC, which harness the voices of Aboriginal young people, will be key to the development of relevant partnerships. Improving ways of working with young people will be a focus over the next 10 years.

Priority may have to be given to partnerships that will add real capacity to respond to the more vulnerable, or higher-need, Aboriginal families. Such partnerships have the potential to build significant additional service capacity and strengthen Aboriginal organisations, while identifying earlier, and supporting more intensively, those families whose children’s futures are at risk. Summary of findings It is clear that Aboriginal families have high aspirations for their children and young people and appreciate the value of accessing high-quality services that meet the needs of their local community. At times, however, families find it difficult to access the services that they need for a number of reasons. Feedback suggests that some general services are not considered to be culturally sensitive and many Aboriginal families feel that the services being delivered are not designed for them. At the same time, in many areas the full spectrum of Aboriginal organisations and services are not available. This poses considerable challenges for some Aboriginal families in seeking the advice and support they need. Cultural sensitivity includes overcoming narrow definitions of family as well as avoiding use of systems and processes that may inadvertently offend or alienate Aboriginal people.

The Government has started to address these issues through the development of an Aboriginal Inclusion Framework. This will address the negative impact of short-term program funding that can leave communities and families vulnerable when services that have been well received by the community abruptly end. The framework has been developed in recognition of the need to strengthen cultural competency within general services to ensure that they work more effectively with Aboriginal families. What Victoria is doing The Victorian Government has made improvement of health, education and human services a priority over the past 10 years under Growing Victoria Together and A Fairer Victoria. The Government has actively supported new approaches to the governance, funding and development of community infrastructure, ranging from hospitals to local kindergartens to family service organisations.

For those children needing urgent attention and care, the Government will continue to implement the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 provisions, maximising cultural safety and community connections for Aboriginal children and young people. To ensure that the stronger community organisations collaborate, the Government has sponsored the development of regional, sub-regional and local networks – sometimes led by local government – to ensure a more planned response to local priorities. Engagement of Aboriginal organisations has generally been a priority in these innovations.

70 Services that work for Aboriginal families These networks have been supported by new forms of consultation and liaison, and some formal partnerships, between Government departments and Aboriginal agencies or communities, including at a whole-of- government level. Thirty-eight Local Indigenous Networks have been created across the state to ensure that Aboriginal people (and service users) have the opportunity to work in partnership with government agencies to improve access to existing funding and services that meet their aspirations.

At the same time, the Government has explored ways to better support Aboriginal agencies, including ways to streamline funding and reporting. Many of these directions will continue under this plan. So that services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent Many Victorian Government programs have introduced or supported efforts to make services more culturally competent. The continuing process of educational improvement in government schools, for example, has been complemented by the Wannik Education Strategy to ensure that the learning needs of Aboriginal children are met, no matter which school they attend.

A Victorian Aboriginal Inclusion Framework will advance this across the whole of the Victorian Government. It will address some of the concerns raised during the consultation, particularly regarding cultural competency and systemic racism and discrimination. Implementation will focus on raising the cultural competency of general services as a priority. The framework suggests that for services to be truly universal they need to provide services to all Victorian families. They need to assume the responsibility for being welcoming to Aboriginal families symbolically, as well as through their practice and way of doing business. This includes overcoming narrow definitions of family and the use of systems and processes that may inadvertently offend or alienate Aboriginal people.

This is particularly important in communities that are not serviced by Aboriginal-specific services. One way in which organisations can sustain cultural competence is through employment of Aboriginal staff. An Aboriginal Cultural Competency Guidance Framework and training to support community services organisations to increase their cultural competency is one of the priorities of the Victorian out-of-home care reform strategy. Government-funded family services and out-of-home care providers are required to meet eight service standards, including one specifically about cultural competency and promoting respect for the cultural identity of children, young people and families. The emphasis is on being culturally competent though all aspects of an organisation’s operation.

Karreeta Yirramboi: Victorian Aboriginal Public Sector Employment and Career Development Action Plan 2010–2015 will significantly increase the number of Aboriginal employees in the Victorian public sector, in line with COAG outcomes. The strategy aims to ensure that one per cent of all public sector employees are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island descent by 2015. So that Aboriginal community controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive The Government has sought to strengthen Aboriginal organisations in a number of ways, mostly associated with program reforms. For example, the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 makes specific provisions for Aboriginal organisations taking on roles hitherto confined to government agencies. Two specific initiatives aimed directly at building capacity within Aboriginal organisations are also important. The Positioning Aboriginal Organisations for the Future Project aims to improve the life expectancy, quality of life, and health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people through the delivery of the best possible services by strong Aboriginal organisations into the future.

Section 4

71 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Section 4 A Governance Training Program has been established to support Aboriginal organisations. Governance workshops are run by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. The program includes a suite of culturally inclusive management and governance training options for board members and staff of Aboriginal organisations. So that partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher-need families The Government has identified participation in partnerships as a priority for Aboriginal organisations. Issues around these – and the capacity for Aboriginal organisations to sustain participation – are starting to be given consideration as the Government continues to focus effort in areas where Victorian Aboriginal children and young people face particular challenges.

The Koorie Alcohol Action Plan, in partnership with Victorian Koorie communities, focuses on prevention and reduction of harm associated with alcohol use. Related resources include the Healthy Pregnancies and Healthy Babies for Koorie Communities kit.

72 Services that work for Aboriginal families Section 4 Future directions Services have to find ways to include the significant minority of Aboriginal families who are most vulnerable. A shared commitment to holistic and integrated service responses will guide coordinated work across the health, community services, education and early childhood services sectors to identify and address family and/or child vulnerability and potential future risks. This will require proactive, timely, coordinated and culturally appropriate responses. A number of actions set out earlier in this plan will contribute to this focus. Universal services, including maternal and child health and schools, can play a part in providing intensive, flexible, effective and sustained responses to vulnerability and reducing the risks of neglect or harm. The following actions build on these approaches.

Actions to be considered over the life of the plan So that services will be accessible, high quality and culturally competent, we will work together to: • Develop and implement an Aboriginal Inclusion Framework that is embedded in the practice of general services for Aboriginal children, young people and families, with a particular focus on promoting participation. • Support more Aboriginal Victorians to work in programs and services for children, families and young people. So that Aboriginal community controlled organisations will be strong and adaptive, we will work together to: • Build partnerships between Aboriginal organisations providing services to children, young people and government to support these organisations to: enhance their service delivery, particularly youth services, across Victoria.  strengthen their capacity to assist and support Aboriginal children and families who want to access universal services.

assist universal services to become culturally competent. assist organisations to address systemic racism and discrimination. explore opportunities for greater use of brokerage models that have been found to work well.  undertake service and infrastructure planning for the anticipated Aboriginal population increase forecast over the next 20 years. • Move case management of Aboriginal children in long-term kinship care placements to Aboriginal community controlled organisations where appropriate. • Work with Aboriginal organisations to utilise and disseminate relevant data about children and young people to the community.

So that partnerships between general services and Aboriginal organisations will drive improvement, particularly to identify and support higher-need families, we will work together to: • Explore opportunities for the formal exchange/secondment of staff between general services and Aboriginal organisations which provide services to children, young people and families, to assist in the development of meaningful partnerships. • Ensure that helpful service initiatives are available more widely in places where Aboriginal families live, rather than remaining confined to only a few sites.

• Encourage communities and agencies to prepare local Aboriginal Children’s Action Plans to take up the directions of Balert Boorron, particularly focusing on ways to provide more intensive or sustained support to more vulnerable families.

73 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Balert Boorron identifies 44 specific areas in which the Victorian Government and the Aboriginal community and organisations can work together over the next decade to improve opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and their families. These future directions cover the whole of childhood and stretch into adulthood, both the early years and school years, and adolescence. They pay equal attention to the importance of Aboriginal community and cultural life, and to ways that services can work together to deliver the support that families need.

Implementation of this plan Implementing this plan will involve action by a range of Victorian Government departments, schools, government services, funded service agencies and Aboriginal community controlled organisations. Implementation proposals for each future direction will be developed by the responsible department for consideration by Aboriginal organisations and the Government as part of progressing the VIAF. Monitoring and reporting progress The Victorian Government has already set measurable targets in many of the areas included within this plan (see pages 19 and 36). Through the VIAF, the Victorian Government will report each year on progress against these targets, and against this plan. Aboriginal communities and services will play a key role in monitoring Victorian services to meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families.

The Government will also continue to monitor how Aboriginal children and young people are faring more broadly. Through the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System, the Government will continue to bring together information from a range of sources, including commissioned surveys of Aboriginal families and young people. It will make this available to Aboriginal organisations and communities as well as to local government and key school and service partnerships to assist local planning. In this way, data and evidence can mobilise action across Victoria to support Aboriginal families to give their children the best start in life. Next steps Next steps A decade from now, both the Aboriginal community and the Victorian Government expect to see babies born into Aboriginal families who are healthier, safer and better supported in their development, benefiting from quality early education and care and less developmentally vulnerable as they start school.

Both Government and community expect that all children will be engaged and excel in school, complete Year 12 and move into higher or further education and employment. Artwork by Anthony Milne, age 8

74 Next steps

75 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) References Aboriginal Affairs Victoria 2009, Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework Report 2008–09, Department of Planning and Community Development, Melbourne. Department of Planning and Community Development —2008, Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: Towards a safer future for Indigenous families and communities 10 Year Plan, 2nd edition, Melbourne. Access Economics 2005, The Economic Benefit of Increased Participation Education and Training, http://www.accesseconomics.com.au/ publicationsreports/showreport.pho?id=86&searchfor=2006&searchby =yearearlier, Canberra, ACT.

Australia Bureau of Statistics 2008a, Education and Work, Australia, Canberra. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008b (unpublished data), National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Social Survey. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010, Child Protection Australia 2008-09, Canberra. Australian Medical Association 2009, ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health: The Health of Indigenous Males Building Capacity, Securing the Future’, Report Card Series. Bamblett, M. & Lewis, P. 2009, Human Rights as Social Investment for Indigenous Children and Families: Putting History, Culture and Self- determination back into the equation, presentation. Centre for Community Child Health 2006, ‘Early childhood and the lifecourse’, Policy Brief No. 1, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Centre for Community Child Health 2008, ‘Rethinking school readiness’, Policy Brief No. 10, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Centre for Post Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning 2009 (unpublished), ‘Making Career Development Core Business’, Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Group Report, XXX.

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development 2008, Dardee Boorai: Victorian Charter of Safety and Wellbeing for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Melbourne. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development 2009, Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework: For all Children Birth to 8 years, Melbourne. References

76 References Department of Education and Early Childhood Development 2010, The State of Victoria’s Children 2009: Aboriginal Children and Young People in Victoria, Melbourne. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development 2009 (unpublished), Victorian Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey (HOWRU?), Victoria. Department of Human Services 2008, Aboriginal Services Plan Key Indicators 2006/07, Department of Human Services, Melbourne. Dockett, S. & Perry, B. 2007, Starting school: Perceptions, experiences and expectations, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Frizzell, J. 2009 (unpublished), Expert Paper on the role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in Victoria, commissioned work for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Melbourne. Gillbank, M. & Big hART 2008, Big hART’s Ngapartji Ngapartji Briefing Document: Indigenous Languages in Australia, Devonport, http//www.eniar.org/pdf/ngapartji_ngapartji_language_paper08.pdf Hunter, S. & Lewis, P. 2006, Embedding Culture for a Positive Future for Koorie Kids, paper presented to the Association of Child Welfare Agencies Conference 14–16th August, Sydney.

Laws, P.J., Grayson, N. & Sullivan, E.A. 2006, Smoking and pregnancy, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Perinatal Statistics Unit, Sydney. National Centre for Vocational Education Research 2008, Student Outcomes Survey 2008, http://www.ncver. edu.au/statistic/publications/2156.html Paradies, Y., Chandrakumar, L., Klocker, N., Frere, M., Webster, K., Berman, G. & McLean, P. (in press) Building on our strengths: A framework to reduce racial discrimination and promote diversity in Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne.

Policy Brief No 1 2006: Early childhood and the life course, www.rch.org.au/ccch Priest, N. & Paradies, Y. 2009, The impact of racism on parenting and the outcomes of Victorian Aboriginal children and young people, Commissioned work for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Melbourne. Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (SCRGSP) 2009, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Productivity Commission, Canberra. Sizer, J. & Goodrick, D., Ingenuity Consultancy 2009, Strong Voices: Report of Focus Groups with Aboriginal Young People and Carers, Ballarat, Victoria.

Skills Victoria 2009, Victoria’s Vocational Education & Training Statistics: A Pocket Guide, Melbourne. http://www.skills.vic.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0014/100265/Pocket-Guide .pdf Taylor, J. 2006, Population and Diversity: Policy Implications of Emerging Indigenous Demographic Trends and Discussion Paper No. 283, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra. References

77 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) References Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency 2009 (unpublished), Submission to the Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020). Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Group 2010, Moonda Wurrin Gree: Pathways to a better economic future, The Report of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Report, Melbourne. Victorian Government 2010 (unpublished), Victorian Aboriginal Inclusion Framework, Melbourne. Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council 2009, VIYAC Voices: Telling it Like it Is, Young Aboriginal Victorians on Culture, Identity and Racism, Melbourne.

Vinson, T. 2007, Dropping off the edge: the distribution of disadvantage in Australia, Jesuit Social Services; Richmond, Victoria and Catholic Social Services, Curtin, ACT. Walker, R. & Shepherd, C. 2008, ‘Strengthening Aboriginal Family Functioning: What works and why?’, Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse, AFRC Briefing No. 7, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne. Zubrick, S. R. & Silburn, S. R. et al. 2005, Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey: The Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal Children and Young People, Curtin University of Technology and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth.

78 Appendix Consultation methodology Extensive research and consultation was undertaken to gain input and advice from Aboriginal families, parents and young people, as well as from key Aboriginal organisations working with Aboriginal children. Key inputs • The State of Victoria’s Children 2009: Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria. • A literature review and expert papers to support and provide an expanded evidence base for both the report and the plan. The focus was on known data gaps or where a comprehensive overview of the subject area from an Aboriginal perspective was required, particularly in relation to: resilience factors for families and young people experiences of racism and discrimination, and their impact on outcomes young Aboriginal parents the role of Aboriginal organisations in Victoria family violence.

• Extensive Aboriginal community consultation as part of the 2008 development of Dardee Boorai. • Consultation throughout 2009 to capture the views of:  Aboriginal young people and Aboriginal parents through 12 targeted focus group discussions with five to nine people in each group Aboriginal youth through a youth forum at the Bert Williams Centre  ten Aboriginal young people who completed a Digital Storytelling workshop in partnership with VIYAC and the Centre for the Moving Image. • Meetings with staff at the following key Aboriginal organisations: Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Ltd Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. Victorian Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation. • Meetings with relevant program areas across the Victorian Government: Koorie Justice Unit, Department of Justice Indigenous Policy Officers, Sport and Recreation Victoria  Skills Victoria, Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development Appendix Appendix

79 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Appendix  Koorie Business Network, Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development Maternity Services, Department of Health Child and Youth Mental Health, Department of Health Public Health, Department of Health Youth Justice Branch, Department of Human Services Office for Housing, Department of Human Services Child Protection Branch, Department of Human Services Koorie Human Services, Department of Human Services  Office for Government School Education, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Office for Policy Research and Innovation, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Office for Children and Portfolio Coordination, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Office for Youth, Department of Planning and Community Development  Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, Department of Planning and Community Development. • Responses to an electronic survey from staff at seven Department of Education and Early Childhood Development regional offices and six Department of Human Services regional offices.

• A web-based public consultation survey. • Canvassed input via meetings and forums from the Municipal Association of Victoria and from the Victorian Council of Social Services. • Department of Justice/Department of Human Services Aboriginal Joint Forum (Youth Issues) in July 2009. • Written submissions from the broader community through the Dardee Boorai/plan website, which included the option of completing an online survey. Governance The development of the plan was managed through the Aboriginal Planning & Coordination Unit, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Strategy and Coordination Division. Project governance was provided through the Aboriginal Children and Families Advisory Committee and the Senior Officers on Aboriginal Affairs Working Group, a committee reporting to the Secretaries’ Group on Aboriginal Affairs.

80 Appendix Acknowledgements Particular acknowledgement is owed to the members of the Aboriginal Children and Families Advisory Committee, as follows: Ms Jill Gallagher (Co-Chair)  CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Mr Tony Cook (Co-Chair)  Deputy Secretary, Office for Children and Portfolio Coordination, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Ms Geraldine Atkinson  President, Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated Ms Muriel Bamblett  CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Professor Wendy Brabham  Director, Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University Ms Lisa Thorpe  Lecturer, Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University Mr Frank Guivarra CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services Aunty Melva Johnson  Chair, Njernda Aboriginal Cooperative, Echuca Mr Tim Kanoa State Coordinator, Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council Mr Jason King  CEO, Gippsland & East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative Ms Daphne Yarram Manager, Yoowinna Wurnalung Healing Service The efforts of previous members of the Aboriginal Children and Families Advisory Committee are also acknowledged: Mr Denis Rose  CEO, Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation Ms Felicia Dean  CEO, Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative Dr Alf Bamblett  CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Mr Justin Mohamed  Chair, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Professor Mark Rose  Academic member Ms Karen Heap  CEO, Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation Special thanks also to Ingenuity SED Consultancy for expertly running focus groups for the plan. Their report Strong Voices: Report of Focus Groups with Aboriginal young people and carers by Ms Jodie Sizer and Dr Delwyn Goodrick will be published on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development website. Appendix

81 Balert Boorron: The Victorian Plan for Aboriginal Children and Young People (2010–2020) Key acronyms ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics COAG Council of Australian Governments TAFE Technical and further education VET Vocational education and training VIAF Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework VIYAC Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council VAEAI Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. Key definitions Aboriginal inclusion is used in the context of the current development of an Aboriginal Inclusion Framework, which aspires to strengthen Aboriginal culture and support successful Aboriginal participation in the design, implementation and assessment of policies and programs that directly or indirectly affect community. Community references in this plan are primarily to the Victorian Aboriginal community unless otherwise specified.

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals that enable them to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.i Cultural awareness is understanding cultural difference, cultural diversity and an awareness that cultural differences may necessitate a different approach to people of that other culture. Cultural safety is providing an environment that is welcoming and respectful of another person’s culture.ii Low birth weight is defined as a weight of less than 2500 g (up to and including 2499 g), irrespective of gestational age.

Perinatal mortality is defined as fetal and infant death, including stillbirth, from 28 weeks of gestation to the end of the neonatal period of 4 weeks after birth. Perinatal mortality is usually expressed as the number of deaths in a given period per 1000 live births in a specific geographic area or program. Premature birth refers to the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age. Substantiated child abuse is the determination that a child or young person is in need of protection, following a period of investigation of the subject matter of a report and information arising through that investigation. Appendix i Char Tong and Terry Cross, 1991, Cross Cultural Partnerships for Child Abuse Prevention with Native American Communities, Portland, Oregon: Northwest Indian Child Welfare Institute, 1991, p. 12.

ii Department of Human Services, 2008, Aboriginal Cultural Competence Framework, Melbourne, p. 56.

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