Preparing your family and home
Caring for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child or young person will involve considering your existing cultural awareness and knowledge. You can do your own research about some of the existing positive practices within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and aim to strengthen your links with community with the intention of improving cultural connectedness for the children in your care. Preparing yourself, your family and your home environment will be imperative to ensure that you are in the best position to settle a child into your care.
Preparing for a new child in your home
Preparing your home for a child or young person entering an out-of-home care placement involves putting some simple things around your home and in the child’s bedroom to make the child feel more relaxed and comfortable while living with you.
See if you can gain as much information about the child and his or her background before he/she arrives. And spend some time after arrival slowly getting to know your new member to the household! For example, it is useful to prepare practically for mealtimes by asking what food the child may like and anything else that they prefer to eat or drink, including what their allergies may be. You should also have a properly equipped and locked first aid cabinet.
Some practical ideas for preparing to ‘welcome’ a child into your home include obtaining for the child (depending on his/her age):
- An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander flag
- Teddy Bears or dolls with colours of the flags
- Jig-saw puzzles
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children’s cultural story books
- Paintings and pictures of Aboriginal art to hang on walls
- Displaying Aboriginal artifacts around your home
- Safe, age-appropriate toys
- DVDs or movies about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander stories
Refer to the “Recreation” section for further links and information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activities for children.
Preparing your family
A great way to prepare your family for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child to come into your care is to have a chat with them about what it will mean for them and how it will impact their life. Having a chat about how to support the child to feel culturally ‘safe’ is also important.
Some ideas for this discussion are:
- Respecting the child’s identity – who they are, where they come from, their sense of belonging
- Confidentiality about the child’s family and circumstances
- Respecting their privacy and personal space
- Allowing their self-expression, considering their personal values and beliefs
- Respecting their spiritual and cultural beliefs
- Being aware of any emotional triggers for the child
- Discussing any challenging behaviours and how these will be managed
- Understanding the importance of the child’s cultural needs
- Participating as a family in culturally appropriate activities