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Transforming evidence and practice to promote connection for Aboriginal children,their families and communities Aunt Sue Blacklock, Fiona Arney, Karen Menzies, Gillian Bonser, Paula Hayden. The WINANGAY team.

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Transforming evidence and practice to promote connection for Aboriginal children,their families and communitiesAunt Sue Blacklock, Fiona Arney, Karen Menzies, Gillian Bonser, Paula Hayden

the winangay team
  • Deeply concerned by overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the system and the impact of trauma
  • Passionate and motivated to develop innovative cultural resources for workers
  • Reconciliation in Action

Aunty Sue Blacklock

Karen Menzies

Gill Bonser

Paula Hayden

Not-for-profit Aboriginal controlled NGO


the aim of australian centre for child protection
The aim of Australian Centre for Child Protection

To bridge the gap between what is known and what is done to transform the lives of children who have experienced, or who are at risk of experiencing, abuse and neglect.

world first research
World first research
  • Joint interest and expertise
    • Winangay Resources Inc
    • Sidney Myer Fund
    • Australian Centre for Child Protection, UniSA
    • Institute of Child Protection Studies, ACU
    • Queensland Government – Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
    • Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP)
aboriginal and torres strait islander child placement principle
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle
  • Goal to enhance and preserve the child’s connection to family and community, and sense of identity and culture in all aspects of government intervention with children
    • Recognise and protect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, family members and communities in child welfare matters.
    • Increase the level of self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in child welfare matters.
    • Reduce the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.
  • Elements of the Principle have been introduced in legislation across all Australian States and Territories to varying extents
national issue
National issue
  • National meeting for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children about these issues – May 2013

Key Recommendation

  • Culturally appropriate carer assessments and appropriate financial, professional and emotional supports for carers – inclusion of Aboriginal world view and use of interpreters
winangay resources
Winangay Resources
  • Developed out of a desire on the part of Aboriginal communities to reduce the removal of children from their families and communities.
  • Developed through a collaborative process - the Winangay Project team and an Aboriginal Reference Group including a large number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations.
  • Highly regarded by workers and families, and assessed by experts in the field as covering key areas of carer assessment to promote children’s safety and wellbeing.
aims of the research
Aims of the research
  • Assess the effectiveness of the Kinship Assessment Tool
  • Of particular interest is understanding how the Tool is being applied in practice, and how its use may translate into outcomes for carers, children and their families.
  • In particular, does use of the Tool result in more Aboriginal carers being recruited and in more Aboriginal children being placed safely with their families and communities?
it will explore in detail
It will explore in detail…
  • the outcomes for carers, children, organisations and communities of using the Winangay carer Assessment Tools
  • the system, community, organisation, practitioner and family factors which help and hinder the faithful implementation of these tools in practice, and
  • the impact of the resources on the cultural competence of practitioners, and the impact of cultural competence on the use of the tool.
what does the research involve
What does the research involve?
  • Training and support in Winangay approach
    • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners (approximately 70) working in the area of carer assessment for carers of Aboriginal children.
  • Worker perspectives
    • Before training about current approaches and experience
    • After the training about the tools
    • Follow up about the use of tools – how much, how they worked, perceived outcomes, what gets in the way and what helps

Carer views

    • How do they feel about the assessments (Winangay and current) – approx 70 interviews to be conducted
  • Administrative data
    • the placement of Aboriginal children within family and community, placement stability, improved children’s well-being, are there any further safety concerns) - approx 210-280 cases to be examined
progress to date
Progress to date
  • 5 training events across Queensland
  • 73 participants trained, 70 participants in pre and post test training assessment (Nov 2013-July 2014) – 96% response rate
  • Aged between 23-62 years, 93% female
  • 0-25 years experience assessing foster carers, most 2-5 years’ experience
current tools
Current tools
  • Strengths
    • Prompts, pre-determined areas for assessment
    • Links to standards of care, legislation
    • Open questioning, honest
  • Limitations
    • Not suitable for Aboriginal families (communication styles, history, family relationships)
    • Lack of flexibility
  • Satisfaction – mean score 6.0 out of 10
winangay kinship tools
Winangay kinship tools
  • Strengths
    • Visual aids prompt discussion, simple language
    • Led by carers – empowering
    • Natural discussion, yarning, conversational
    • Specific action plans
    • Easier to identify strengths and concerns
  • Limitations
    • Time to conduct assessment in this way
    • Challenge of using a new tool in existing system
  • Satisfaction – mean score 8.9 out of 10
  • “fabulous! Brilliant! Amazing! Deadly! Awesome!” (Brisbane)
  • “I feel confident having discussions about challenges now. -thank-you for the opportunity to have discussions about assessments and how these can be done in an empowering manner. -we don't want to catch people out... we do want to catch people in!” (Rockhampton)

“It is a tool that is far more respectful” (Cairns)

  • “I think it is fantastic, it is a practice shift for the better” (Brisbane)
  • “a really simple but thorough and respectful assessment process” (Cairns)
findings about implementation
Findings about implementation
  • Currently conducting 3 month follow up of 45 participants, 13 responded, 6 have moved to different roles
  • Assessments using Winangay
    • 5 completed
    • 7 in progress
    • 5 planned to progress
  • Satisfaction – mean score 7.9 out of 10
  • The carers read the report and told me it was “way deadly” and that “this is us, you got it just as we told you”. They really liked the report and the cards but found some questions in yarning sessions a little repetitive and the sessions a little long
  • “I am very impressed about this tool being trialled. I would recommend to continue using such a tool now and into the near future”
emerging practice stronger ways with aboriginal children families and workers

Emerging Practice:Stronger Ways with Aboriginal children, families and workers

Winangay Resources Inc

  • We have to stop the TEARS and trauma! …Children tears …Community tears
  • We are in the middle of yet another unrecognised stolen generation
  • WINANGAY Resources – Stronger Ways with Aboriginal Children and Families
  • WINANGAY in Gamilaraay means: to know, to think, to love, to understand.


winangay story
Winangay Story
  • Led by Aunty Sue Blacklock
  • Tingha - highly disadvantaged Aboriginal community
  • Elders - deeply upset about the number of Aboriginal children being taken into care and disconnected from community.
  • Grassroots approach
  • Called on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people - skilled and experienced in the field
  • Developed on a voluntary basis by passionate team
why we started con t
Why we started con’t..........

In Australia,

  • 4.72% of kids 0-17 years are Indigenous yet they are a third 33.6% placed in out-of-home care
  • Significant proportion placed with non Aboriginal carers (30% nationally)
  • Aboriginal kids needs kin and kin need kids – Stop the trauma and the tears!
  • Kinship care works for kids – They have same or better outcomes than in foster care
why we started voices
Why we started: Voices ….

of kinship carer…..

“I’m raising him I’m not caring for him ... he’s part of my family”

Aboriginal Kinship Carer consulted by L,Breslin Benevolent Society

“We need specific kinship care tools”

(worker from NSW)

of workers…..

“There isn’t enough being done to develop culturally appropriate tools for assessing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people” (worker from Qld)


informed by evidence and emerging best practice
Informed by evidence and emerging best practice
  • Collaborativeapproach between worker and carer
  • Power and decision making is shared
  • Acknowledge families as expert
  • Trauma informed practice
  • Culturally appropriate tools
  • Family Group Conferencing
introduction to trauma
Introduction to trauma
  • On all measures Aboriginal Australians remain disadvantaged.
  • The legacy of past child welfare contributes to the gross overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection and out-of-home care system. (AIHW, 2011; Juvenile Justice in Australia 2009-10; Tilbury, 2009)
  • The impact of past child welfare laws, policies and practices has resulted in intergenerational trauma
  • Atkinson (2013) states, the experience of forcible separation and assimilation, experienced by members of the Stolen Generations, is a ‘significant cause of trauma.’
trauma informed care is
Trauma Informed Care is…
  • Understanding Trauma and its impact
  • Promoting Safety
  • Supporting Client to have Control / Choice / Autonomy
  • Sharing Power and Governance
  • Integrating Care
  • Healing Happens in Relationships
  • Recovery is Possible
trauma informed care principles
Trauma Informed Care Principles

Winangay approach aims to:

  • Avoid further traumatisation
  • Be inclusiveness of Aboriginal perspective
  • Be Strengths based, (removes blame/shame)
  • Help manage trauma related behaviours
  • Restore choice, autonomy and control
  • Promote community and self wellness
  • Seek collaboration, not compliance
what we need to know
What we need to know
  • Trauma informed care requires child protection practitioners and other service providers to understand the neurological (brain) and the physiological (body) relationship to experiences of trauma
why we must understand trauma
Why we must understand trauma
  • Understanding definitions of individual, collective, intergenerational trauma, and trauma theories and models of practice, holds a key for all human and community service practitioners to enhance effective client worker engagement and improve outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities.

(Menzies and McNamara, 2009)

winangay development validation
Winangay development & validation
  • Guided by Elders from across Australia, input: from workers, Aboriginal kids, carers as well as Aboriginal reference group
  • Shaped by research - national and international (Professor Marianne Berry the Australian Centre for Child Protection and Dr Marilyn McHugh)
winangay scope model
Winangay SCOPE Model:

S = Strengthsacknowledged

C = Concerns and unmet needs identified

O = Options and opportunities to address needs mobilise resources, provide services

P= Power sharing, participatory respectful processes

E= Enabling capacity, empowerment and equality

applying the scope model
Applying the SCOPE model:
  • Plain English (Tingha test: ‘No jawbreakers’)
  • Respect (for individuals, rights, culture, history, traditions and rights)
  • Relationship (genuine, transparent and accountable)
  • Building Strengths and Capacity
  • Listen to family as experts (while reflecting reality)
  • Understand theimpact of intergenerational trauma on Aboriginal communities and individuals
  • Shared power - Empowerment and partnerships
  • Applying trauma informed practices (eg providing ‘choice’ and ‘control’)
3 steps for workers
3 Steps for Workers
  • Relationships
  • Hearing the Stories to build understanding
  • Journey together (Strengths and Concerns)
yarning up
Yarning Up…
  • 4 collaborative conversations about :
    • Environment and meeting Needs,
    • Staying strong as a carer,
    • KiDs Wellbeing,
    • Safety and working well with others
visual cards

Heading in the same direction

Time out

How are they going at school?

Bus Stop

Looking after you, recharging and staying strong

Can you get where you need to go?

Going to school

Honest and Trustworthy





Resolving Conflicts

Cultural identity


Are the kids carefully supervised?

School Lunches

NAIDOC Beading class


Is there healthy food at each meal?

Bush food

Visual Cards
tingha talk
Tingha Talk

“No Jawbreakers!”

rating cards and action plans

This is deadly, it is a significant strength!

This a little or mild concern!

Rating Cards and Action Plans
  • 7 cards that allow you to rate strengths and concerns

Optional Graph

Joint Action Plans

Things are just OK or adequate.

research project
Research Project
  • Tools rolling out inQueensland – Carmody Report
  • Ground breaking Winangay Research to build evidence base what works with Aboriginal children and families (funded by the Sidney Myer foundation
  • Research project partnership with Winangay Resources (Aunty Sue Blacklock); Australian Centre for Child Protection (Professor Fiona Arney)Researchby Uni of South Aust and Aust Catholic Uni
expanded applications
Expanded Applications
  • Family Support eg Condobolin
  • Carer Training
  • SEWB (social emotional wellbeing) cards
  • Disability cards
  • Non Aboriginal versions – strong uptake especially in CALD contexts
information contact
Information & Contact

Winangay Resources

mob: 0421 912 757