As a carer of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child you play an important role in building and supporting:
Connection with their family
Connection with community
Connecting and understanding their culture
We encourage you to take the challenge of breaking down barriers you may face. In doing so, it will lead to more fulfilling and happy outcomes in the long term.
for overcoming barriers
|Assumptions and making judgements||Be open-minded and self aware – your values and ways of doing things may be different. Be aware of your assumptions and judgements that impact on the identity of the child in your care
Actively seek out positive stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture
|Increasing knowledge||Be pro-active! Ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caseworkers and the child’s family to tell you about the child’s connection to the local community. Be updated on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events and issues through media and websites e.g. Koori Mail, National Indigenous Times, SNAICC, Torres News
Gather information about local Aboriginal services and organisations e.g. cultural centres, child care centres, community health centres, and go on mailing lists, make contact with them and arrange a visit to the service. This could be facilitated by the foster care caseworker
Find resources that will help expand on your knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history e.g. The First Australians (DVD), Message Stick (TV), Foster Their Culture (SNAICC booklet)
|Fear||Have reasonable knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices and history. Ask an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander caseworker to introduce you into the community. As well as having a ‘buddy’ – linking you with other carers to offer further support
Be open to seeking advice and guidance from Elders, families and the local community, it shows they and their culture are respected and valued
Demonstrate a willingness to advocate for the child’s connection to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
Increase your knowledge about the Aboriginal community of which the child belongs to, and share this knowledge with the child and your family
It is important to follow ‘cultural protocols’ and apply these protocols prior to making any contact with the child’s community. You should apply your knowledge of protective behaviours – for yourself, the child and their family – in order to prevent situations where potential conflict or confrontation could occur if there are sensitivities around the child being removed from family and community
As a non-Indigenous carer it is important that you are able to reflect on and understand your own values and attitudes and how they can impact on your interactions with the foster child. It may be helpful for you to consider the following questions:
- Have I made assumptions about the family and child before I have met them?
- Do I respond differently to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? If so how?
- What assumptions do I make about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture? How might these impact on my ability to promote the positive identity of the child in my care
- Where in the past have I learnt information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
- What are some positive elements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture I am familiar with?
- What does the child call their foster parents? Explore this with the child’s biological parents- ask them what they would like the child to call the foster parents?