School of Social Sciences
|Unit Name:||Contextualised Practice|
|Type of Collaboration:||Individual|
|Threshold Detail:||No threshold|
Question: Keeping in mind that the question relates to the use of advocacy skills in changing legislative and policy frameworks and using examples drawn from the course or from your professional experience,
1) Identify an area of policy and legislation
In your answer you should also discuss the general question of the relevance of applying advocacy skills to legislative and policy frameworks.
Focusing on one or more of the areas covered in the course or an area in which the student has
worked, students will prepare a report which addresses the issues related to the application of advocacy skills to legislative and policy frameworks.
The following area should be covered in the report
The report should also address the general question of the use of advocacy skills to effect change in legislation and policy.
102394 Contextualised Practice
THE LACK OF ACCESS TO SERVICES TO ASSIST ABORIGINAL CHILDREN WHO ARE OUT OF HOME CARE
1.0 Identification of the policy and/or legislative framework
Children are the future of human civilisation, however without the help from adults they are vulnerable and as a result, they need nurturing and protection. According to Drake et al. (2019) children can be vulnerable due to their age as well as their evolving capacities and as a result, they are prone to injury and more likely to be victims of violence and abuse. Due to the child care and protection policies, children are now less likely to be victims of some kind of abuse and this is applicable especially in the developed nations such as Australia (Rice, Day and Briskman, 2018). However, there is a large aboriginal population in Australia and the majority of these indigenous populations are from the Torres Strait Island (Fredericks et al. 2020). Now due to their living conditions and lack of infrastructural availability, the children are likely to face a lack of healthcare and other essential services such as food and shelter. As a result, in order to help these aboriginal people and aboriginal children, there are several policies and legislative frameworks to help them such as Aboriginal Case Management Policy (NSW.gov, 2018). Aboriginal Case Management Policy was endorsed by the FACS or Family and Community Services in 2018. Aboriginal Case Management Policy provides practice guidance and rules to strengthen the aboriginal families and deliver outcomes for their children as well as young people (Briggs, 2020). This policy, as a result, acts as a framework for the aboriginal-led case management practices in order to safeguard the interests of the aboriginal children.
The objective of this Aboriginal Case Management Policy is to promote an integrated management approach which is actually capable of addressing the needs or requirements of the aboriginal children and their families. Therefore, the goal is to provide a continuum of support which possesses the ability to empower the communities and as a result will reduce the incidents of harm as well as risk factors for the children. According to Bailey et al. (2017), Aboriginal Case Management Policy has managed to facilitate an excellent framework which helps the support practitioners to maintain a stable as well as the enduring relationship with the aboriginal children and their family or community to ensure their well being. Therefore, this policy actually emphasises on the trust-building aspect with the aboriginal communities in order to carry out the child well-being services through a controlled mechanism. Furthermore, this Aboriginal Case Management Policy adheres to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and also focuses into some of the prevalent aboriginal children related issues such as out-of-home care (Ainsworth and Hansen, 2017). Aboriginal Case Management Policy focuses on supporting the families through to out-of-home care as well as restoration and leaving care supports. This policy supports the aboriginal children by providing child protection and providing out-of-home care systems such as foster care, residential care if there are legal orders for the safe removal of children from the family home due to violence against them or incidents of abuse (Raman et al. 2017).
According to Henriques-Gomes (2019), in Australia indigenous or aboriginal children are worst affected with child protection and they are 11 times more likely to live in out-of-home care than their non-indigenous children. According to a statistic reported by Henriques-Gomes (2019), in Australia 159,000 children have received some kind of child protection in 2017-18 and this number has increased by 15,000 in the last 5 years. This, as a result, demonstrates the prevalence of the child protection issues in the country and as a result, identifies the importance of the child protection policies. Henriques-Gomes (2019) has also reported that 31,759 children were living out-of-care for two or more years at the time of the publication of this article and among those children, more than 40% were aboriginal children belonging to the Torres Strait Island. Furthermore, among the aboriginal children living in Australia, 65% of the children were placed with their relatives or placed in indigenous residential care. As a result, these findings from these secondary researches suggest that there is a strict need for aboriginal children welfare policies in the country as almost 65% of the aboriginal children are some kind of victim and require child care assistance (Segal et al. 2019). This is why aboriginal child welfare policies such as Aboriginal Case Management Policy or Child Protection Policy 2017 has been developed to assist the aboriginal children in extreme cases such as out-of-home care.
New changes in the policy guidelines and legislative advancements have stated that the authorities have the ability to put aboriginal children into the foster care system or in indigenous residential care without the consent from the parents (Allam, 2018). However, in such cases aboriginal children will be kept into the system for two years and after which if the court decides then the children can reunite with their parents but the parents are required to demonstrate a favourable environment for the children in such cases. However, there are mixed reactions from the children welfare communities about this new development in the aboriginal children protection law as AbSec, the leading aboriginal welfare management authority that this law will harm the children rather than benefiting them (Allam, 2018). Contradicting this claim Mendes et al. (2019) has stated that such child protection and welfare reform were necessary and will not only ensure the aboriginal children safety but will empower them as well.
Therefore, due to mixed beliefs about the aboriginal child protection and their out-of-home care facilities, policies such as Aboriginal Case Management Policy and Child Protection Policy 2017 have benefited immensely as this policy provides a framework for the care personnel or practitioners. This policy is an essential framework as this policy primarily focuses on the building of trust with the aboriginal communities and providing required help through this trust. As well as focuses on providing placement for the children within the community and family in order to mitigate the adverse impact on those children's psychological well being as a result.
2.0 Identification of the impact of the policy and/or legislative framework on the target group and the community generally
According to Mundy et al. (2019), child protection and welfare is the measurement which prevents the violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect against children. Mundy et al. (2019) state that there are several Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs in place by UNESCO, which aims to help the children around the world. Various national governments and authorities looking after the children well being devises their policies according to the SDG goals such as promoting education for children, eradicating poverty, providing clean water and shelter for the children and so on. Aboriginal Case Management Policy is no different in this regard and implementing a policy guideline or framework to help the aboriginal children in Australia and especially in the Torres Strait Island where the majority of the aboriginal population in Australia.
Living Arrangements for OOH Children
(Source: AIHW, 2018)
While ensuring the wellbeing and security for the aboriginal children, this policy also looks after the out-of-home care for these children. On the other hand, there are authorities such as the AbSec, who also advocates for the aboriginal children to ensure that the children stay with their families by resolving the issues, however, if such measure is not possible they are put into kinship care or foster care. Due to the implementation of aboriginal children welfare policies such as Aboriginal Case Management Policy, Child Protection Policy 2017 and active authorities such as AbSec, 44,900 children received out-of-home care in Australia till mid-2019 as they were victims of abuse and violence (AIHW, 2020). As a result, Ainsworth (2019) argued that these policies, authorities and legislations such as the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 are beneficial for the aboriginal children in Australia as the impact from these child services is helping the children. Therefore, with help of these policies and legislations, the aboriginal children are receiving the care and nurture they require, both emotional and physical as such initiatives are helping with their physical development, education and psychological development.
However, according to a report by Allam (2020), indigenous and welfare groups from Australia have stated that the current aboriginal child welfare system is not perfect and demanding urgent action to review the existing policies in place for child protection. Indigenous welfare groups have argued that the current system lacks transparency and lacks effectiveness as most of these legislations and policies were developed without consulting with the aboriginal community. Furthermore, the child protection workers have misled the system as there was widespread noncompliance with the legislation and policies, thus requiring a governing body to monitor the child protection workers as well.
Taylor and Habibis (2020) argue that the issue between the indigenous communities and non-indigenous governments is not new and due to the lack of trust among them such non-compliance issues arise, which minimises the effectiveness of the community welfare policies and legislations. However, the previous discussion about the Aboriginal Case Management Policy has identified the instigation of trust factor with the indigenous or aboriginal communities actually illustrates the effectiveness of these child protection measurements. They are assisting the aboriginal children by prioritising the kinship-based out-of-home care if the domestic issues against the children cannot be resolved. Though, the findings also suggest that there is still room for improvements.
3.0 Identification of an area within the framework which is in need of reform
Policy reform is an important aspect as the requirements and needs of the people are constantly changing and thus Bacchi (2009) argues that policy reform is the concept which focuses into the problems in order to identify the areas which require solving or reforming. According to Bacchi (2009), the term public policy is often assumed as a universally good thing which is always fixing problems. However, as these policies are developed by the policymakers, their underlying interpretation of the problems and their notion of fixing such problems can be incorrect or inappropriate, thus there are implications for policy reform as the facilitated policies may not be serving the purposes as they should. Similarly, in order to identify the reform area for the aboriginal children protection policies and how they are assisting them with the out-of-home care facilities, it is important to assess the arguments which are identifying the limitations of such policies (Higgins et al. 2019). In the previous discussion, a report by Allam (2020) has suggested that the aboriginal welfare practitioners feel that the existing policies are not being effective enough and in some cases the policies are actually adversely affecting the children's well-being rather than being beneficial for them. They have identified that the government child protection workers are neglecting their responsibilities and also not caring for the children as they are misleading the policies and rather than resolving the issue, they are forcing the aboriginal children to out-of-home care such as foster homes, kinship care and so on. Another issue identified by Taylor and Habibis (2020) also stated that the majority of the aboriginal population-related policies including the aboriginal children care policies are developed without consulting with the aboriginal communities. This as a result results in major problems as the aboriginal community-related issues are not effectively managed by such policies and as a result, also increases the frustration among the aboriginal communities. However, the Aboriginal Case Management Policy has seemed to address this argument established by Taylor and Habibis (2020) as the framework developed by this policy emphasises on the development of trust factor with the indigenous communities. Therefore, till present discussion, two major shortcomings of these policies identified and they are related to the negligence and inappropriate activities by the government child protection workers and related to the trust factor as well as preparation of aboriginal communities related policies without consulting with them.
Type of abuse against the children in Australia
(Source: Cripps and Habibis, 2019)
On the other hand, Cripps and Habibis (2019) argue that in the western part of Australia, more than half of the children who are placed in out-of-home care belong to the aboriginal communities. According to them, the legislative and policy-based response to the curbing violence and abuse against the aboriginal children is a failure and termed the aboriginal children as a stolen generation as rather than acting to resolve the root cause, the government is relying on the out-of-home care policies as resolution. Fallon et al. (2013) reported that the emotional abuse and neglect are the major reason behind aboriginal children abuse. Thus, rather than taking the children out of their family and placing them in out-of-home care, the policies should put their emphasis on resolving such issues through consultation with the family or parents as these issues are potentially resolvable through discussions.
Oates (2019) on the other hand has argued that there are gaps in the existing policies as there are issues at the out-of-home care facilities such as overcrowding. This shortage of housing as a result also harms the well-being of the aboriginal children while they are in the foster care system. As a result, Oates (2019) identifies that the Australian government needs to make some policy changes to increase the funding for the children's safe houses in order to provide adequate accommodation as well as proper infrastructure to ensure their well-being and safety. These issues as a result also identified some of the major areas which require immediate interventions in order to provide a robust child care facility to the aboriginal children.
Therefore, based on the identification of the areas which requires policy reform and immediate interventions are:
Proposal for reform and assessment of feasibility:
This chapter of this report will acknowledge the limitations or the shortcomings previously highlighted in this report and will propose a reform for the existing policies in place to help the aboriginal children. As the previous discussion in this report has suggested that even though the existing policies in place are beneficial for the aboriginal children, the policy framework is not delivering the desired result as the data suggests that the number of aboriginal children put into the out-of-home care system has increased. Therefore, based on contemporary developments, it is important to rectify and revise the aboriginal children welfare-related policies. Following are the proposals being made to the AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies) and AbSec (Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat) in order to reform the existing policies in order to enhance their effectiveness: