'Who's my Mob'? Pro-active searching for the extended families of Aboriginal children in care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The paper explores theoretical and applied characteristics of an innovative model of proactively searching for - and finding - safe family placements for Aboriginal children in care in Western Australia; the model extends a notional continuum of care placement options for vulnerable children and families. The model was initially developed by Extreme Recruitment in St Louis, Missouri in North America, and has been adapted by Mrs Ann Oakley, CEO of Kinship Connections Aboriginal Corporation, an emerging agency in WA. The paper is in two parts; the first part makes the case for innovative policy and practice in the context of evidence of the dislocation and vulnerability of Aboriginal children, families and communities in Western Australia - and the extent of their over- involvement with child protection, juvenile justice and adult prison services. Core knowledge, principles and skills embedded in the practice model are identified in the context of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. The second part reflects on a two-year trial and evaluation of the model in four metropolitan District Offices of the State child and family welfare agency. Key findings of the external evaluation are presented, as well as reflections on internal evaluation of service benefits; these include the production of a comprehensive Family History Book of stories, genograms and photographs, together with the identification of an additional average of 151 family members for each referred Aboriginal child. Professional skills are identified with attention to the practitioner's emotional intelligence in fraught relationship-based service delivery, informed by trans-generational family theory and the concept of 'community-as-network'. Practice links with Family Group Conferencing are made, with obvious child, family, community and agency benefits of this model. The paper concludes with recommendations for future policy and practice developments for family placement and for leaving care - for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43 - 58
Number of pages16
JournalCommunities, Children and Families Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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