Closing the Gap Implementation Plan delivers for First Nations families

The Albanese Labor Government is continuing its support of First Nations communities and investing in programs to reduce the rate of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. 

Two key programs will receive Commonwealth funding totalling more than $50 million to address Target 12 under the Commonwealth Implementation Plan as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Target 12 aims to reduce the rate of over-representation of First Nations children in out of home care by 45 per cent by 2031. 

The major Improving Multidisciplinary Responses program will receive a total $44 million in funding as part of the boost. 

The initiative will provide grants of up to $5 million to deliver innovative community-led ideas from First Nations communities to design service models that better support families with multiple and complex needs. 

The program will focus on embedding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and its five elements of prevention, placement, participation, partnership and connection. This grant opportunity is currently open and closes on 8 March 2023.

A further $6.2 million will be spent to develop the cultural awareness and trauma responsive skills and capabilities of the child and family sector workforce. SNAICC - National Voice for our Children will spearhead the development of the program and its delivery to 500 family and children service providers.

It will aim to ensure organisations and workers are better able to deliver prevention and early intervention services that are culturally safe, and trauma and healing informed.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the measures would be integral to delivering culturally appropriate support that First Nations families have lacked in the past. 

“It is unacceptable that such a disproportionate number of First Nations children find themselves in Australia’s child protection system,” Minister Rishworth said.

“These measures will ensure that services and supports are designed by First Nations people and centred on their needs. It’s about listening to people who have lived experience and insights into solutions.”

Catherine Liddle, CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, welcomed the funding and the Government’s collaborative approach. 

“A child and family sector workforce that is culturally responsive and trauma-informed is critical if we are to close the gap for our children. We can’t do this unless we address the priority reforms in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, transforming the way governments work with us,” Ms Liddle said.

“This workforce grant is a demonstration of the positive steps the Australian Government is taking to ensure formal partnerships and shared-decision making, while building the capacity of the Aboriginal community-controlled sector and supporting the needs of our children, families and communities.”

Minister Rishworth said shared decision-making was key to progress on the Closing the Gap targets. 

“We are focussed on giving First Nations people a voice in the policy decisions that affect their lives,” Minister Rishworth said.

“First Nations people will have shared decision making throughout the design, implementation and evaluation of all activities in the Improving Multidisciplinary Responses program.”

For further information on the Improving Multidisciplinary Responses grant opportunity, visit the Department of Social Services website.

The closing date for the Improving Multidisciplinary Responses grant round has been extended to 5 April 2023.