Connect to Culture Children’s Day

Last Friday staff from the Office of the Guardian joined in the celebrations of this year’s national Children’s Day at the Aboriginal Family Support Services’ Connect to Culture Children’s Day event.

Now in its third year, the event, which was held at the Parafield Gardens Recreation Centre, was a great way to celebrate the culture and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and learn about the importance of culture, family and community in their lives.

There were a number of activities for children and adults alike, including weaving, painting, boomerang making, face painting, balloon twisting, jumping castles and live music.

To the delight of the children (and adults), Oog also made a surprise appearance and even busted out a few moves on the dance floor.


Aboriginal Family Support Services Cultural Advisor, Barbara Falla organised the third Connect to Culture event.

The government promises to do better for Aboriginal children in care

16 May 2017

.

Aboriginal children are disproportionately represented in the care system. They comprise about one third of children in care, and the trend points to further increases. As well as the trauma and dislocation felt by all children coming into care, they face the extra risk of removal from, or loss of access to, their culture, language and community.

Commissioner Nyland’s October 2016 report recommended widespread changes to how child protection services related to Aboriginal children and communities and the Government’s response in December 2016 accepted most of those recommendations.

The Government undertook to:

  • Develop an Aboriginal recruitment and retention strategy in the Department for Child Protection (DCP) as part of the workforce strategy (R 30) to increase the numbers of  and support for Aboriginal staff (R 187 and 188) and non-Aboriginal staff working with Aboriginal children (R 222).
  • Place Aboriginal staff in the Child Abuse Report Line call centre to assist with the assessment of Aboriginal families at the point of notification (R 34).
  • Make reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system a priority in the work of the planned Early Intervention Research Directorate (R 50).
  • Incorporate the particular needs of Aboriginal children in kinship care when developing the new leaving care model (R 163).
  • Review the selection, training and supervision of kinship carers and placements. (Aboriginal children are highly represented in kinship care and we discussed this reform in detail in our post on home based care from January this year).
  • Ensure that a recognised Aboriginal agency is consulted on all placement decisions involving Aboriginal children (R 189).
  • Set up a a dedicated scoping unit within the DCP to research family connections and prepare genograms (R 190).
  • Provide all practitioners with training, support and clinical supervision to give them the knowledge, skills and techniques to work effectively with Aboriginal children and families (R191).
  • Identify evidence-based service models for early intervention that meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families (R 192).
  • Commission not-for-profit agencies to develop service models that can respond to higher-risk Aboriginal families with multiple, complex needs (R 194).
  • Develop assessment tools to be used in the new child and family assessment and referral networks that specifically consider the needs of Aboriginal children and families and consult with the local Aboriginal community and service providers (R 196).
  • Ensure that at least one Principal Aboriginal Consultant in the DCP has experience and expertise in remote Aboriginal communities (R 202).
  • Implement the Education Dashboard to provide access to information about schools and school students that can be viewed and accessed by staff both in DECD and the DCP  (R 210).
  • Identify evidence-based service models for early intervention that meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families and develop a best practice evaluation framework for existing early intervention and prevention programs R212).
  • Create an early intervention service for families in remote communities who could benefit from support to prevent escalation of issues (R 212).
  • Upgrade facilities at Mimili and Yalata to provide for playgroups, preschools and other services that visit those communities (R 213).
  • Develop and deliver training programs and tools for staff and carers to promote culturally informed practice (R 235).
  • Identify performance indicators on the cultural competency of the agency’s workforce, and regularly review the effect of these recommendations on that competency (R 237).

There is more information about the numbers of Aboriginal children in care in last week’s post Statistics on Aboriginal children and young people in care and juvenile detention 2015-16 .

Watch out for the next posts in this series which set out the Government’s response to the Nyland report in the areas of education and collaboration.

 

 

 

Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

22 November, 2016

Themes from Nyland  #12

The team from the Guardian’s office have analysed the 850 pages and 260 recommendations from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report1.  We have extracted some themes and priorities to allow us to critique the government’s response, judge the improvements over time and to shape our own work.  Following is a description of the issues and a short list of things to watch for in the reform process.  The first eleven in the series are available.2 We will post the rest over the next few weeks. 3 

Commissioner Nyland noted that families from cultural and linguistic backgrounds that are different to the mainstream are prone to be in circumstances that can give rise to child protection issues. These include trauma, social and cultural isolation, discrimination, language barriers and poverty associated with poor employment opportunities. 

She noted:

It appears that the Agency currently knows very little about the population of culturally and linguistically diverse families who might need a child protection response. Data about the origin of children reported to the system has been inconsistently recorded and retained, and is not likely to be reliable. 

She recommended that information about the cultural background of children coming into contact with the child protection system be recorded in the electronic case management system and that this data be aggregated to inform a system-wide response.

She recommended a qualitative review of the capacity of the current Multicultural Community Engagement Team to provide the necessary state-wide response and that this review should include input from all stakeholders with special emphasis on the views of children.

She observed that, although current practice guides emphasised the importance of respecting and nurturing children’s cultural and linguistic heritage, there existed very little information and support for staff to work in that way.  The Commissioner made recommendations that organisations support and develop the cultural competence of all staff and carers by setting cultural competency targets for the organisation and by developing training and practice guides.

As reform progresses we look forward to seeing:

  • comprehensive recording of cultural and linguistic information about children coming into contact with the child protection system
  • analysis of emerging trends from that data to inform planning and resourcing
  • a review of the current Multicultural Community Engagement Team service’s capacity and suitability for the task with an emphasis on hearing the views of children
  • development of the DCP’s cultural competency by setting cultural competency targets and the developing training programs  and practice guides
  • every child in care with a diverse cultural heritage having a comprehensive cultural connection plan

Please join the discussion on child protection reform via the reply box below.

1 Unless otherwise noted all quotes are from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report,

2 See also posts on Coordination and Collaboration, The voice of the child , Emergency care , Residential care Home-based care, Therapeutic care, Aboriginal childrenEducationResponding to abused or neglected children and Children with disabilities. ***

3 This is not intended to be a précis of Commissioner Nyland’s report which provides a very clear and readable summary.  Because of the Guardian’s mandate, this analysis will tend to focus on issues for children in out-of-home-care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People in Residential Care 2015

1 November, 2016

One of the areas of interest for the Guardian’s Office in its 2014-15 monitoring was the extent to which residential care supported the connection to culture and community of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents. 

Although there was interest and some enthusiasm shown by both workers and residents, examples of where this was done comprehensively were hard to find. There were few Aboriginal residential care workers and workers often lacked the confidence and the cultural competency to embark on that work.

Residential care workers observed that there had frequently been little background done on developing cultural connection prior to the resident arriving and it was not uncommon to have little information on a new resident’s cultural connections at the time they arrived. Some observed that they lacked the time to undertake the work without external support.

The Report identified four imperatives if residential care were to improve significantly in this area:

  • Build the capacity and confidence of organisations that provide residential care to engage with and prioritise cultural connection.
  • Require Families SA (now known as the Department for Child Protection) to elicit and record information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s family and cultural connections and to inform residential care staff prior to their placement.
  • Build the understanding of residential care workers and residents of the importance of cultural connection and their capacity to facilitate it.
  • Improve the availability of in-house resources and external support in order to give effect to cultural connection.

download button

Please join the discussion via the reply box leaving a name and an email address in the spaces provided.  We will remove them from the published post if you request in your reply.

Poster of rights for Aboriginal young people in care

18 October, 2016

Our Office’s experience talking with Aboriginal children and young people was confirmed in a consultation with young people earlier this year. They told us that the same messages and artwork that appeal to other young people may not connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

‘ hand drawn images – they are made by heart, computer generated images are made by nothing’

Aboriginal young person at the
Tandanya consultation in January 2016

Charter of Rights coordinator Nicole Pilkington said, ‘We wanted to create something that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander young people, all Aboriginal people, would not only read but would be happy to have on their walls.

‘We were fortunate to connect with Ramindjeri/Ngarrindjeri artist Teresa Walker.

‘Teresa’s work has strong cultural influences and also has a modern vibrancy and energy that makes it stand out.

‘The messages about the rights of children and young people in care will be essentially the same but tailored to the culture and aesthetics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

.

 

Teresa’s work will form the basis of a large poster that talks about four main rights that will also be available in smaller sizes. She will be working closely with designers Sue and Chris from SD Design who produced the new booklets and posters for the 2016 re-launch of the Charter of Rights.

The posters will be published in October and will be available to agencies that have endorsed the Charter of Rights via the Guardian’s materials ordering page.

This story was first published in the Guardian’s August 2016 Newsletter.

Download the August 2016 Guardian’s Newsletter in PDF now.

We’d love to publish your comment – please use the reply space below.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Themes from Nyland  #7

The team from the Guardian’s office have analysed the 850 pages and 260 recommendations from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report[1].  We have extracted some themes and priorities to allow us to critique the government’s response, judge the improvements over time and to shape our own work.  Following is a description of the issues and a short list of things to watch for in the reform process.  The first six in the series are available.[2] We will post the rest over the next few weeks. [3] 

Aboriginal children[4] are disproportionately represented in the care system.  They comprise about one third, and the trend points to further increases.  As well as the trauma and dislocation felt by all children coming into care, they face the extra risk of removal from,or loss of access to, their culture, language and community.

Greater effort is needed on specific issues for Aboriginal families both in helping them to care safely for children, and helping Aboriginal children in care retain or develop connections to their community and culture.

Children from remote communities who come into care with limited access to local foster care and no residential care are faced with the prospect of removal to a regional centre or even the metropolitan area with a resultant severing of family, cultural and language connections.  One response has been increasingly to place children with kinship carers but Commissioner Nyland pointed out that the administration of kinship care for all children, itself has serious problems. (See the post on home-based care for her critique of current kinship care arrangements.)

Placing Aboriginal children in culturally appropriate environments has not proven easy.

The Agency continues to be challenged by its ability to comply with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle (ATSICPP).  In some cases suitable Aboriginal carers are not located for children until well after their placement into care.

Commissioner Nyland recommends the setting up of a family scoping unit to collect and coordinate information to quickly identify safe and appropriate placements.

Commissioner Nyland also stresses the importance of building genuine partnerships with Aboriginal-led organisations.

The Agency has not always embraced this obligation.  It needs renewed focus on consulting with prescribed agencies as required by the Children’s Protection Act.

Even so, not all Aboriginal children will be able to be placed with Aboriginal carers.

Better support for non-Aboriginal carers should include help in attending to the cultural needs of Aboriginal children in their care.

Commissioner Nyland notes that agency collaboration has not been a strong feature of work with Aboriginal families and children.

…new agencies [ engaged in early intervention should] take advantage of referral pathways from existing credible services, especially those that are led by the health sector and those that have contact with Aboriginal parents in the prenatal period.

A working group should be established to promote collaborative practice between the South Australian, Western Australian and Northern Territory child protection agencies in the tri-border region including working towards an across-border legislative scheme for child protection in the three jurisdictions.

As reform progresses we look forward to seeing:[5]

  • Consultation and engagement with remote communities and other Aboriginal bodies at the start of, and continuing through, the reform of Aboriginal child protection.
  • An overhaul of the conduct of kinship care (as described in the post on home-based care.)
  • A strengthening of the training, support, resourcing and supervision of staff to better work with, and support, the culture of Aboriginal children in all forms of out-of-home care.
  • The provision of foster care or residential care placements in locations close to the APY Lands.
  • Increase in the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal workers in the child protection workforce.
  • Adoption of a culturally appropriate tool to assess foster and kinship carers in remote and other communities.
  • Review of remuneration, work conditions and support arrangements to secure core permanent child protection workers in the APY Lands.
  • A working group established to promote collaborative practice between the South Australian, Western Australian and Northern Territory child protection agencies in the tri-border region.
  • Renewed focus on the ATSICPP as the basis for culturally appropriate placement of Aboriginal children in state care.

Please join the discussion via the reply box leaving a name and an email address in the spaces provided.  We will remove them from the published post if you request in your reply.

[1] Unless otherwise noted all quotes are from The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report,

[2] See also posts on Coordination and Collaboration, The voice of the child , Emergency care , Residential care, Home-based care and Therapeutic care – everywhere.

[3] This is not intended to be a précis of Commissioner Nyland’s report which provides a very clear and readable summary.  Because of the Guardian’s mandate, this analysis will tend to focus on issues for children in out-of-home-care.

4 We follow the same convention as Commissioner Nyland’s report in this post, using the term Aboriginal to include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

5 The Aboriginal community is currently considering its response to the Nyland Commission recommendations and we look forward to reviewing our position in the light of that response.

Honouring connection to culture and community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in residential care

1 March 2016

In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 30

Almost 30 per cent of young people in State care in South Australia are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent, more than ten times the rate of their representation in the general community.  The multiple disadvantages faced by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community translates into particular challenges for providers of residential care and supporting strong cultural and community connections offers a way forward for young people and the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community as a whole.

Focussing on these challenges, the Guardian’s Office recently released the Literature Review – Residential Care for Aboriginal Children and Young People (August 2015).  This flagged the need for a set of qualitative performance indicators to help monitor and evaluate how the care provided supports the right of the young residents to participate in and benefit from their Aboriginal culture and community.

The Guardian’s Office is developing those culture and community indicators now.

The new indicators will help Advocates monitor how residential care services support the right of the young residents to participate in and benefit from their Aboriginal culture and community connections.  They will complement the Office’s current monitoring practice.

They will also be useful for house managers and staff, complementing in a practical way existing policies and activities such as Aboriginal Identity Planning and other standard practices such as annual case reviews.

What the Guardian’s Office and residential care staff learn from applying the new indicators will be included in the reports we provide to houses and Families SA and to advocate for policy and practice developments.

The new Indicators will focus on how a residential service:

  • helps the young person to understand their current situation and supports their involvement in making decisions about their life
  • supports access to their culture and community
  • uses culturally appropriate tools and service methodologies and
  • involves a range of carers and other service providers in meeting the young person’s needs.

Applying the indicators, Advocates will ask young people directly about their contact with culture and community.  They will look at how the house applies the culturally relevant policy and operational expectations of that service provider and the residential care system and they will assess cultural aspects of the house’s physical and social environment.

Focussing on the situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in this way will help the Guardian to meet her statutory obligation to ‘promote the best interests of children under the guardianship, or in the custody, of the Minister, and in particular those in alternative care.’

The Office is discussing aspects of the new indicators with a variety of stakeholders.

The indicators will be included as a part of the information package that accompanies the Residential Care Self-evaluation Survey in June 2016.

For further information about the development of the new Culture and Community Indicators, please contact Alan Fairley, GCYP Senior Policy Officer, at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of the Guardian’s Newsletter.

download button

Residential care for Aboriginal children and young people

indicators for Indigenous residential careSeptember 15, 2015

Aboriginal children who are removed from their immediate family should, wherever possible, live with their extended family or other Aboriginal families of the same clan.

A short review of the literature about residential care for Aboriginal children and young people was released in August and here are some of the conclusions.

In Australia and elsewhere, the number of Aboriginal children as a percentage of the population in the child protection system has for some time exceeded the capacity of the Aboriginal population  to provide relative and kinship care (Bromfield, Osborn 2007).

There is a growing number of Aboriginal children living in residential care.  There are very few residential care models specifically developed for Aboriginal children (Flynn et al 2005; Bath 2008, Bamblett et al 2014).

One of the strengths of Aboriginal culture is that connection to the family occurs in a community context that has a broad definition of family.  Care of children is usually shared among several adults. This allows for attachment between child and carers to include a wide range of family members and family connections (Bamblett 2014; Iannos 2013; Price Robertson & McDonald 2011; SNAICC 2014; Brend et al 2013).  This is beneficial to providing stability for children in residential care.

However, overcoming historical distrust and trauma associated with past welfare practices (the Stolen Generation) is a significant obstacle for child welfare agencies in engaging the community in supporting placements in out of home care (Higgins et al 2005).

The Australian Aboriginal culture is not homogenous and there are variations among clans and between urban and remote communities which complicate providing culturally appropriate residential services when the children are very likely to come from outside the immediate region. There are also the ‘standard’ practice challenges in residential care of meeting the therapeutic needs of each child, getting the right ‘mix’ of children, maintaining safe family connections, timely assessments and, importantly, ensuring children are engaged in the decisions about them.

Regardless, it is imperative for the security and wellbeing of Aboriginal children that their identity and belonging to their Aboriginal community is strongly supported.  There are very few examples of service models that have been evaluated but the literature does provide some common elements for success.  These include:

  • Integrated connection with culture and extended family for the facility and the child.
  • Qualified staff with demonstrated skills, knowledge and understanding of working across cultures, of historical practices and their adverse impact, and the significance of cultural knowledge to Aboriginal children.
  • Staff who celebrate and integrate cultural practices into their daily interaction and build relationships with children which are steeped in deepening the connection to the child’s community, language and customs.
  • Structured cultural programs, outside of the residence, which promote connection and identity.
  • Support for transition from residential care to the child’s community and family, wherever possible.

The literature review is published on this website as Literature Review – Residential Care for Aboriginal Children and Young People

If you’d like to comment on this, please join the discussion in the panel below.

References

Bamblett, M., Long, M.,Frederico, M.,& Salamone, C. 2014 ‘Building an Aboriginal Cultural Model of Therapeutic Residential Care: The Experience of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency’ Children Australia 39 (4) 206 -210

Bath, H., 2008 ‘Residential care in Australia, Part 1. Service Trends, the young people in care, and needs based responses. Part 2. A review of recent literature and emerging themes to inform service development’ Children Australia, 33 (2)

Brend, D., Fletcher, K., & Nutton, J. 2013 ‘With Laura: Attachment and the Healing Potential of Substute Caregivers within Cross-cultural Child Welfare Practice’ First Peoples Child and Family Review; 7, 2, pp 43 -59.

Bromfield, L.M.,& Osborne, A., 2007 Kinship Care. Research Brief, no. 10 Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family studies, National Child Protection Clearing House

Flynn, C., Ludowici, S., Scott, E.,& Spence, N., 2005 Residential care in NSW, OOHC development Report. Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies. NSW

Higgins, D.J., Bromfield L.M.,& Richardson, N, 2005 Enhancing out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family studies, National Child Protection Clearing House.

Iannos, M., McLean, S., McDougall, S.,Arney, F., 2013 ‘Maintaining connectedness: Family contact for children in statutory residential care in South Australia’. Communities, Children and Families Australia, 7, 1

Price-Robertson, R.,&  McDonald, M., 2011 Working with Indigenous children, families and communities – Lessons from Practice. CAFCA practice sheet, Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia

SNAICC, 2014 Family Matters  – Kids safe in culture, not in care. South Australia Issues Paper

 

The Charter of Rights and spiritual and cultural identity

Charter graphic - Aboriginal flagAboriginal children and young people in care have the right to know about their cultural and spiritual identity and their community.

(Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care)

The best evidence of how well this right is supported comes through our audits of  the annual reviews of the situation of young people in care and the voice of young people themselves.  In 2014-2015, GCYP audited 203 annual reviews. Eighty of those were for Aboriginal children and young people, 65 of whom were case managed by regional Families SA offices.

Placement within the Aboriginal community

It is widely accepted and enshrined in the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle that knowledge of and connection to culture and community is best supported by a placement within an Aboriginal family and community.  In 2014-15 the audit found:

  • Seventy-two per cent of Aboriginal children resided within their extended family (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) or in Aboriginal foster placements.
  • Twenty-one per cent of Aboriginal children resided in non-Aboriginal foster care or residential care placements.
  • One Aboriginal child resided in residential care for Aboriginal children.
  • Four Aboriginal young people lived independently as they prepared to leave care.

Support for cultural heritage and engagement

Audits of the annual reviews of the circumstances of Aboriginal children and young people also collect information about cultural heritage and engagement in activities to promote cultural identity and connection.

In 2014-2015:

  • Families SA offices reported in 51 of the 80 cases that workers had documented sufficient information about the child’s cultural heritage to share with the child. This included the child’s clan group, a detailed cultural genogram and information that could be used to inform a cultural identity plan. In most cases, cultural identity plans had not been developed.
  • Thirty-six of the 80 Aboriginal children and young people had opportunities to engage in activities to promote their cultural identity and connection with family, culture and land. Such activities were mostly generic (such as NAIDOC and Reconciliation Weeks) rather than clan-specific.
  • Thirty-four of the 80 Aboriginal children and young people whose cases were reviewed had a culturally specific Life Story Book in development.

What young Aboriginal people have said

In February and March this year the Office interviewed five young Aboriginal people about their views and experiences of growing up in care .  All wanted to know more about their family and culture and most said they found the company of other Aboriginal people enjoyable and affirming.

“Me growing up I knew very little about my Aboriginal history and heritage… My [foster] mother and my foster father at the time … said ‘we want to protect him … he might not want to know that, we don’t want to take the risk’”

“My social worker and Families SA could organise more community events…and programs for Aboriginal children to go out…. It would be really good to get a social worker, one who doesn’t know anything, … and she will learn along the way.”

“I think that parents [of Aboriginal children in care] should talk to the social worker and to the school and put in plans to strengthen their knowledge about who they are as a person and an Aboriginal as well.”

There is sustained effort in our state’s care system to place Aboriginal children and young people within an Aboriginal environment. However, young people’s experience,  and this is confirmed by our audits of annual reviews, is that support for cultural heritage identity and connection is patchy and the use of identity plans is not common. and, in the mandated requirement for cultural identity plans, are very lacking.

The 2014-15 report on our audits of annual reviews will be published in September. A video of some of the interviews with young Aboriginal people has just been released.

If you’d like to comment on this, please join the discussion in the panel below.

Supporting the culture and identity of Aboriginal children in state care

picture of Guardian Pam Simmons

Pam Simmons Guardian

I write this letter having just returned from a discussion with Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people from organisations in the Murraylands. Our invitation to the gathering asked them to share views and ideas about ways to bring children who are separated from family and culture back to a healthy connection with their identity as Aboriginal people.

Almost one in three of the children who are subjects of care and protection orders in SA are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children. A declining proportion of them are placed with Aboriginal carers. A growing proportion are in residential care, often at some distance from their communities.

There are obvious questions to be answered about how better to support families to care for their children.  The questions though that we sought views on, in addition to family support, were what can be done when children have been removed from their immediate family to build and strengthen their belonging to their clan and family.

The range of views and experience was vast.  At the heart of it was the imperative to build in the child the “sense and knowledge that they belong to us” said one Aboriginal Elder.  This means going back to important places, spending more time with their Aboriginal community, knowing who their aunts and uncles are, and being taught their language.  It also means working on what is inside a child, their view of their place in the world and who they are connected to. The lament though was that the practice is not embedded in organisations or systems. Some children have strong cultural knowledge and support, some have it sometimes, and some miss out altogether.

We learned from discussion, and from service models that work and in the literature, that what is needed is strong integration of the organisation and its program with the local Aboriginal community including governance where possible, qualified staff with high competency in working across cultures, and structured programs which build life skills in an Aboriginal context.

The sorts of things that you might look for in assessing cultural inclusiveness and support would be: care or case plans that are specific to the contact required with a child’s own clan and family; maps that identify the key relationships and children can name these people and talk of recent contact; staff who can tell you the clan groups of the children they work with and something about the land and language; and visits to community Elders on a frequent basis.

One of the obstacles to doing this well is fear of getting it wrong.  I have lost count of the number of times I have ‘got it wrong’, often in my rush to see something done, but I have never regretted trying.  Today was one of those days of trying and learning, and being grateful for the opportunity.

If you’d like to comment on this, please join the discussion in the panel below.