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Social Justice Report 2007 - Appendix 2

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Appendix 2

Overview of Family Violence and
Child Abuse Initiatives by all Australian governments


To develop a nationwide picture of existing government initiatives that
address family violence, the Social Justice Commissioner sent correspondence to
all State, Territory and relevant Australian government
departments[1] requesting information
on their policies and programs during the period 2006-2007.

The materials reproduced here are primarily drawn from information provided
by each government or department,[2]
as well as some background information on major reports, inquiries or events
that have shaped family violence and child abuse policy.

Part 1 of the appendix sets out the Council of Australian Governments
(COAG) framework for intervention in family violence and child abuse, as well as
Australian government responses reporting against the commitments arising from
the 2006 Inter-governmental Summit on Indigenous Family Violence and Child
Abuse.

Part 2 of the appendix provides supplementary information on other
policies and programs that address family violence and abuse in Indigenous
communities at the federal level.

Part 3 of the appendix provides an overview for each State and
Territory under the following four headings:

  1. policy frameworks;
  2. joint State/ Territory and Australian government initiatives;
  3. monitoring and evaluation processes; and
  4. programs

It also includes information about major relevant reports in each
state and territory.

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Part 1: The Council of Australian
Governments’ framework for responding to Indigenous Family Violence and
Child Abuse

Family violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities are issues that
require cooperative action between the state and territory and federal levels of
government. Many of the crucial services, such as policing, justice and child
protection are the responsibility of the states and territories although there
is still considerable scope for enhanced funding and supplementary support from
the Australian government to address family violence and child abuse.

Most of the significant collaborative action taken on Indigenous family
violence and child abuse has been negotiated through the Council of Australian
Governments (COAG).[3]

Following the Prime Minister’s national roundtable with Indigenous
leaders on family violence in 2003, a working group was formed to develop a
draft family violence strategy to be endorsed by
COAG.[4]

COAG agreed to a National Framework for Preventing Family Violence and
Child Abuse in Indigenous
Communities
[5] (the National
Framework) on 25 June 2004. The National Framework establishes prevention of
child abuse and family violence as a national priority and includes a process
for taking action through bilateral agreements. It also states that family
violence prevention will be based on the principles of:

  • Safety: Everyone has the right to be safe from family violence and
    abuse.
  • Partnerships: Preventing family violence and child abuse in
    Indigenous families is best achieved by families, communities, community
    organisations and different levels of government working together as
    partners.
  • Support: Preventing family violence and child abuse in Indigenous
    families relies on strong leadership from governments and Indigenous community
    leaders and sustainable resourcing.
  • Strong, resilient families: Successful strategies to prevent family
    violence and child abuse in Indigenous families enable Indigenous people to take
    control of their lives, regain responsibility for their families and communities
    and to enhance individual and family wellbeing.
  • Local solutions: Successful strategies to prevent family violence and
    child abuse in Indigenous families are flexible, work across jurisdictional and
    administrative boundaries, enable communities and governments to work together
    in new and innovative ways and enable local Indigenous communities to set
    priorities and work with governments to develop and solution to implement them.
  • Addressing the cause: Successful strategies to prevent family
    violence and child abuse in Indigenous families to address the underlying causes
    of violence and abuse, including alcohol and drug abuse, generational
    disadvantage, poverty and
    unemployment.[6]

On 26 June 2006, the Minister for Families, Community Services and
Indigenous Affairs, convened the Intergovernmental Summit on Indigenous
Family Violence and Child Abuse
, attended by all State and Territory
Governments. All parties reconfirmed their commitment to the National Framework
and developed the National strategy for action to overcome violence and child
abuse in Indigenous Communities
(the action
strategy).[7]

The action strategy includes the following commitments:

  • Customary law and bail: All governments agree that customary law in
    no way justifies violence against women and children. The Australian Government
    indicated its intention to amend 16A of the Crimes Act 1914 to delete any
    reference to:

    any mandatory consideration of cultural background for all
    offences against Commonwealth law and to exclude from sentencing discretion...
    claims that criminal behaviour was justified, authorized or required under
    customary law or cultural
    practice.[8]

  • Law Enforcement: Unanimous support for the establishment of a
    National Intelligence Unit to improve policing of violence and child abuse in
    Indigenous communities.
  • Senior Indigenous Network: Additional $4 million in Australian
    government funding to support leadership development in Indigenous communities,
    to be negotiated bilaterally with the States and Territories.
  • Protection for Victims: All governments recognise the importance of
    additional safe places and increased legal support for victims of violence and
    abuse.
  • Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Services: Up to $50 million
    Australian government funding to jointly fund additional drug and alcohol
    services, provided on a basis of need.
  • Health and Well-being of Children: Extension of the Australian
    government’s Indigenous Child Health Check scheme.
  • Corporate Governance: Australian government funding guidelines to be
    amended to ensure that government funding only goes to ‘organisations
    managed by fit and proper persons’.
  • Compulsory School Attendance: All governments recognise the
    importance of school attendance but are unsure about how to ensure all
    Indigenous children are enrolled and attend school. The issue will be referred
    to the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs
    (MCEETYA).

Following the Summit, implementation of the action strategy was
discussed at the COAG meeting on 14 July 2006. It was further announced that the
Australian Government would commit $130 million over four years to assist with
bilateral, joint funded initiatives around Indigenous family violence and child
abuse.[9]

COAG agreed to the following measures:

  • to provide more resources for policing in very remote areas;
  • to improve the effectiveness of bail provisions;
  • to establish a National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence
    Task Force to support existing intelligence and investigatory capacity;
  • to establish Joint Strike Teams on a bilateral basis, where necessary, to
    work in remote Indigenous communities where there was evidence of endemic child
    abuse or violence;
  • to invest in community legal education to ensure Indigenous Australians are
    informed about their legal rights, know how to access assistance and are
    encouraged to report incidents of violence and abuse;
  • to amend or monitor State and Territory legislation, where necessary, to
    remove customary law or cultural practice excuses;
  • States and Territories magistrates being encouraged to make attendance at
    drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes mandatory as part of bail conditions
    or sentencing;
  • additional resourcing for drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation
    services in regional and remote areas;
  • support for networks of Indigenous women and men in local communities so
    that they can better help people who report incidents of violence and
    abuse;
  • an accelerated roll-out of the Indigenous child health check in high-need
    regions, with locations to be agreed on a bilateral basis; and
  • collect and share data on enrolments and attendance with a newly established
    National Student Attendance Unit to monitor, analyse and report on this
    data.

In addition to these specific measures to address Indigenous family
violence and child abuse, COAG has utilised other processes for joint action.
The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage process was established in April
2003 when COAG commissioned the Steering Committee for the Review of Government
Service Provision to produce a regular report against key indicators of
Indigenous disadvantage. The reports are designed to measure whether government
services are achieving outcomes and guide where further work is needed. Reports
were released in 2003, [10]
2005[11] and
2007.[12]

The National Framework of Principles for Delivering Services to Indigenous
Australians
was agreed on by COAG on 25 June 2004. It sets out service
delivery based on the principles of: sharing responsibility; harnessing the
mainstream; streamlining service delivery; establishing transparency and
accountability; developing a learning framework; and focussing on priority
areas.[13]

Other measures include:

  • the COAG Reconciliation
    Framework;[14]
  • COAG Trials; [15] and
  • bilateral agreements between Commonwealth and State and Territory
    Governments.[16]

Implementation of the Intergovernmental Summit on Indigenous
Family Violence and Child Abuse and COAG Action Strategy

In August 2006 the Prime Minister wrote to all Australian government
Ministers with portfolio responsibility for the 17 initiatives included in the
$130m package. The Minister for Families, Communities and Indigenous Affairs was
charged with overall responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the
package and for leading bilateral negotiations with the states and
territories.[17] The initiatives
undertaken by Australian Government departments are reported
below.[18]

1. Customary law (lead agency: Attorney General’s Department)

The Australian Government enacted the Crimes Amendment (Bail and
Sentencing) Act
2006 (Cth) on 7 December 2006 to give effect to COAG's
decision on customary law. The Act amends the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)
to:

  • make clear that in the assessment of bail and sentencing decisions under
    Commonwealth law, the seriousness of criminal behaviour cannot be lessened or
    aggravated because of customary law or cultural practice.

The Act also provides additional protection to victims and
witnesses by requiring courts to consider the potential impact of granting bail,
on victims and witnesses — particularly those in remote communities.

The Australian Government has, as part of the Northern Territory Emergency
Response, enacted The Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act
2007 (Cth) (NT NER Act), assented to on 17 August 2007. The legislation
brings bail and sentencing discretion in the Northern Territory in line with the
Commonwealth's Crimes Act amendments and, therefore, also with the COAG
decision. The amendments could be repealed if the Northern Territory enacts
sufficiently complementary provisions.

While no direct funding was provided for the legislative amendments, the
Australian Government has committed funding to two complementary programs:

  • judicial cultural awareness training; and
  • community legal education.

2. Bail determinations and enforcement (lead agency: Attorney
General’s Department)

The Australian Government enacted the
Crimes Amendment (Bail and Sentencing) Act 2006 (Cth) on 7 December 2006,
to give effect to COAG's decision. The Crimes Act amendments require a bail
authority to take into consideration:

  • the potential impact of granting bail on alleged victims and witnesses,
    and
  • the fact that an alleged victim or witness is located in a remote
    community.

The NT NER Act brings bail and sentencing discretion in the
Northern Territory in line with the Crimes Act amendments. The Northern
Territory Legislative Assembly has made legislative changes that go some way
toward matching the Australian Government's amendments, through the Bail
Amendment Bill 2007
introduced on 23 August 2007.

The amendments will reverse the presumption of bail for persons charged with
certain offences, including serious sexual offences, and will also consider the
interests of the community when determining a bail application.

Each jurisdiction is independently evaluating the need for legislative
amendments. The legislative amendments ensure that bail authorities take into
account the safety of victims and witnesses when making a decision to grant
bail. This will prevent perpetrators from returning to communities, where this
would put the safety and wellbeing of community members at risk.

COAG asked the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) to report on
the extent to which bail provisions and enforcement take particular account of
potential impacts of victims and witnesses in remote communities, and to
recommend any changes required.

In March 2007, SCAG Ministers approved an out of session paper. All
jurisdictions agreed to the following non-legislative recommendations:

  1. Where appropriate to individual jurisdictions, Indigenous community
    representatives should be involved as one means of helping inform bail decision
    makers in relation to bail decisions concerning members of their
    communities.
  2. Existing drug and alcohol diversion programs that are available for accused
    on bail should be considered for continuation and expansion, particularly to
    increase their availability to Aboriginal accused.
  3. SCAG should:
    1. continue its work on sharing information about the operation and evaluation
      of best practice Indigenous justice programs (through the Indigenous Justice
      Clearinghouse Project); and
    2. request the Clearinghouse to prioritise a Research Brief on effective bail
      support programs.
  4. Best practice bail support programs should be identified and implemented in
    a manner appropriately adapted to local conditions.

3. Legal services support for victims and witnesses (lead agency:
Attorney General’s Department)

Utilising existing funds, the
Attorney General’s Department will continue to fund the Indigenous
Legal Aid
program and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
program.

4. Community legal education (lead agency: Attorney General’s
Department)

Indigenous specific community legal education (CLE) programs will
be implemented in 15 rural and remote communities across Australia. The programs
will:

  • inform Indigenous Australians about their legal and human rights and
    responsibilities, including any misunderstandings about customary law and issues
    that have arisen from recent changes to the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth);
    and
  • provide information about how to access a range of services and encourage
    Indigenous Australians to report incidences of violence and abuse.

The initiative is funded at $4.23 million over four years beginning
in 2007-08. Funding is also allocated for an independent review of the community
legal education project 2009-2010.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is developing the
community legal education (CLE) program and associated training resources, in
consultation with the Attorney General’s Department. This initiative is
being implemented in consultation with State and Territory governments, HREOC
and the Indigenous community. The Department has asked State and Territory
justice departments to provide input into locations for the program. State and
Territory governments have also been encouraged to provide funding or in-kind
contributions that will ensure a comprehensive rollout of the program to
Indigenous communities around Australia.

The CLE program will be managed by local leaders and run by community legal
education officers drawn from the local community. The program will help to
develop stronger partnerships between service providers and communities
providing the information, resources and ongoing training necessary to help
address violence and child abuse in local communities.

5. Judicial cultural awareness training (lead agency: Attorney
General’s Department)

COAG agreed to provide appropriate information to the judiciary,
through the National Judicial College of Australia (NJCA) on Indigenous culture,
customary law and bail legislation. The NJCA has established a system of
committees of judges across Australia to develop and deliver the Indigenous
cultural awareness programs. The curriculum will be finalised in late 2007.
$500,000 has been allocated over four years from 2007-08 to 2010-2011 and it
will be evaluated at the end of this period.

6. National Intelligence Taskforce (lead agency: Attorney
General’s Department)

The National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task
Force (the Task Force) was announced in July 2006 and commenced in September
2006. The Task Force was established with funding of $4.921 million in 2006-07
and an additional $11.489 million over four years.

The objectives of the Task Force are to:

  • improve national coordination in the collection and sharing of
    relevantinformation and intelligence;
  • enhance national understanding about the nature and extent of violence and
    child abuse in Indigenous communities provide related intelligence and other
    advice, including on organised criminal involvement in drugs, alcohol,
    pornography and fraud; and
  • conduct research on intelligence and information coordination and
    identification of good practice in the prevention, detection and responses to
    violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities.

7. Joint Strike Teams (lead agency: Attorney General’s Department)

The Australian Federal Police are coordinating Joint Strike Teams on a
bilaterally negotiated basis. The first strike team involves Northern Territory,
South Australia and Western Australia with a tri-state intelligence desk based
in Alice Springs. This has been successful in reducing trafficking petrol,
alcohol and drugs in the Central desert region. $1.7 million has been allocated
to this initiative.

8. Assessment of Adequacy of Policing in Remote Areas (lead agency:
Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, FaCSIA)

In order to assess the adequacy of police numbers and facilities in
remote communities, the Australian Government commissioned an independent
assessment of the policing requirements in specific remote areas of Australia in
relation to violence, abuse and child protection issues, at a cost of $200,000.
Mr John Valentin ARM, former Deputy Commissioner of the Northern Territory
Police completed The Valentin Report (the
report).[19]

Data was collected across Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland
and South Australia. The outcomes of this assessment have been used to:

  • assist in defining policing requirements in specific remote areas;
  • inform the ongoing development and implementation of effective and
    appropriate policy measures on those issues; and
  • assist the Government in its allocation of funding for additional police
    facilities.

9. Improved Policing in Remote Areas (lead agency: Office of
Indigenous Policy Coordination, FaCSIA)

The Australian Government will provide capital assistance for
necessary infrastructure to assist States and Territories to provide adequate
policing in very remote communities. Guided by The Valentin
Report
, this initiative specifically addressed the provision of capital
assistance for police stations, housing and other infrastructure in remote areas
of Australia. Relevant jurisdictions are contributing sworn police officers at
each facility funded by the Australian Government.

Whilst the initiative was allocated $40m over four years (subsequently
increased to $47.1m), the majority of funding will be granted to States and
Territories in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years. Construction in each
case is to be managed by the States and Territories, with the resulting assets
owned and maintained by them. Memoranda of Understanding have now been signed
with Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory
to undertake significant expansion of policing infrastructure in those
jurisdictions.

Sites have now been approved for construction of police stations and/ or
officer accommodation in Amata (South Australia); Ernabella (South Australia);
Galiwin’ku (Northern Territory); Woorabinda (Queensland); Hope Vale
(Queensland); Lockhart River (Queensland); Poomperaw (Queensland); Aurukun
(Queensland); Bidyadanga (Western Australia); Burringurrah (Western Australia);
Looma (Western Australia); and Wingellina (Western Australia).

10. Two Additional Sniffer Dog Teams (lead Agency: Office of
Indigenous Policy Coordination, FaCSIA)

The establishment of two mobile detector dog units to the Central
Desert Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk will assist in reducing the trafficking
and distribution of illicit substances throughout central and northern
Australia. $1.95 million has been allocated in the 2006-2007 to 2009-2010
budgets.

11. Safe Places and Support Groups (lead agency: FaCSIA)

$6
million of the Family Violence Partnership Program (FVPP) allocation was
committed to funding safe places and communities as well as support groups for
victims under the Safe Places Initiative. This covers a two-year period up to
and including 2008-09.

All States and Territories were invited to suggest proposals, including
matched funding. Table 1 shows projects approved for Commonwealth funding (with
total budget subsequently increased to $8.2m).

Table 1: Commonwealth funding of Safe Places
Initiatives

State
Project
Commonwealth Commitment
SA
Ceduna Family Violence Strategy
$473,080
SA
Cooper Pedy Safe House
$768, 000
NSW
Orana Far West Safe Houses
$820,000
SA
Ceduna Family Violence Strategy
$473,080
SA
Coober Pedy Safe House
$768,000
NSW
Orana Far West Safe Houses
$820,000
NSW
Weaving the Net - Community Development Program
$548,000
NSW
Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers
$505,896
NSW
Broken Hill Aboriginal Family Health Workers
$360,000
NT
Safe Places: Behaviour Change
$406,135
NT
Family Safe House
$500,000
NT
Wadeye Child Care and Services Centre
$1,500,000
NT
Wadeye Staff Housing and Fitout Costs
$1,700,000
QLD
Yungaburra (youth residential facility)
$650,000
TOTAL
$8,231,111

 

12. Additional Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Rehabilitation Services
(lead agency: Department of Health and Ageing)

An additional
$46.168 million of funding will be provided over four years and then
approximately $14 million in recurrent funding per year to improve access to
drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services for Indigenous
Australians in remote and regional areas.

This will enhance the capacity of existing drug and alcohol treatment and
rehabilitation services and provide capital and recurrent funding for new
treatment and rehabilitation services. Activities and services have been agreed
collaboratively between the Australian Government, and State and Territory
Governments and are supported by joint investment. The Measure is being
developed and implemented in consultation with relevant stakeholder
organisations including Aboriginal Medical Services and drug and alcohol
treatment and rehabilitation services and state and territory governments.

13. Alcohol Management Plans (lead agency: Department of Health and
Ageing)

As part of the measure to address violence and child abuse
in Indigenous communities announced by the COAG in 2006, all States and
Territories were encouraged to consider the applicability of alcohol management
plans and to work with communities to introduce plans where appropriate. Alcohol
management plans are implemented at the state/ territory, local government or
community level. A number of jurisdictions have alcohol management plans in
place for specific communities. There was no funding attached to this component
of the announcement.

14. Restrict Kava Import Licences (lead agency: Department of Health and
Ageing)

The Australian Government has recently enforced the existing import
regulations on kava. The tightened restrictions took effect on 25 June 2007 and
have resulted in restrictions on the importation of kava for medical or
scientific purposes only. Individuals returning from Pacific Island countries
are allowed to carry 2kgs of kava on their person.

15. Improving Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Children in Remote Areas
(lead agency: Department of Health and Ageing)

COAG will provide $3.8 million over two years for an accelerated rollout of
the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child
Health Check (Item 708) in up to ten remote regions across Australia.

The MBS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Health Check for
Indigenous children aged 0-14 years was introduced in May 2006 to increase
access to preventive primary health care for Indigenous children.

This measure will establish dedicated Health Check Teams who will augment the
capacity of local primary health care services to provide comprehensive child
health checks to all children aged 0-14 years within the remote regions. It is
expected that 2,000 health checks will be conducted through the measure.

A follow-up team will also be available to work with the local primary health
care services to ensure that all health conditions identified through the health
check are responded to appropriately.

16. Fit and Proper Persons (lead agency: Department of Finance and
Administration)

The Australian Government has determined that it will only fund
non-government organisations that are led and managed by Fit and Proper Persons
(FPP). The Department of Finance and Administration (Finance) has released the
Policy Statement, Fit and Proper Person Requirements, which sets out the
requirements for this policy implementation.

The Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and the Department of Families,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) will trial the FPP
requirements over the period 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008.

During the trial period, the FPP requirements will be implemented by selected
FaCSIA and AGD program areas where funding exceeds $80,000. Programs
participating in the trial will ensure that standardised wording relating to FPP
requirements is included in relevant documentation. Documentation (including
Application Guidelines, Program Guidelines, Advertisements and Funding
Agreements) has been prepared to assist organisations and individuals which will
become part of the trial from 1 October 2007.

17. National School Attendance Unit (Lead agency: Department of
Education, Science and Training)

All jurisdictions will collect and share truancy data on enrolments
and attendance. The National Student Attendance Unit (NSAU) was established in
late 2006 and has received preliminary data from all state and territory
education jurisdictions. $4.6 million has been allocated for this initiative.

The NSAU has conducted preliminary analysis of data, which suggests that the
school attendance rate across states and territories is generally between 91-93
percent, with the rate for Indigenous children at least 7-10 percentage points
less.

The NSAU’s work involves:

  • liaising with state and territory education jurisdictions to collect
    attendance data;
  • undertaking research on attendance and enrolment issues; and
  • developing strategies to improve school attendance and enrolment
    nationally.

$670,000 of departmental funds has been spent on the establishment
and maintenance for the National Student Attendance Unit, much of which has been
formally rephrased to the year 2007-08 due to extended consultations with the
states and territories.

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Part 2: Other Australian Government Initiatives to address
Indigenous Family Violence and Abuse

Indigenous family violence and child abuse has been addressed by the
Australian Government through a number of specific budgetary measures. In the
lead-up to the June 2004 COAG meeting, the Australian Government introduced
further initiatives relevant to Indigenous family violence and abuse through its
2004-05 Budget, including:

  • $22.7m (over 4 years) to double the number of Family Violence Prevention
    Legal Services (from 13 to 26);
  • $37.3m (over 4 years) to establish the Family Violence Partnership Program;
    and
  • $16.5m over four years for Indigenous women's development programs,
    targeting the development of women's leadership capacity.

The
Australian Government has also been investing in related initiatives including
more than $60m to counter substance misuse and petrol sniffing in Central
Australia and other regions- ($8m over 4 years in 2005-06 and $55.2m over 4
years in the 2006-07 Budget).

Subsequent significant budget allocations in 2005-06 and 2006-07 were:

2005-06 Budget

  • $8m (over 4 years) for additional Indigenous drug and alcohol initiatives;
    and
  • $11.2m for comprehensive child health checks in Indigenous communities.

2006-07 Budget

  • $23.6m (over 4 years) to expand the number of Family Violence Prevention
    Legal Services and to enable them to develop a prevention component;
  • $55.2m (over 4 years) to address substance abuse, petrol sniffing and
    governance training (a commitment of $28m in 2006-07); and
  • $23m over four years for Indigenous leadership development, targeting
    Indigenous women, youth and men.

Indigenous family violence and child abuse prevention has also been
addressed in a number of different portfolio areas. Information is provided
below from the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, Attorney
General’s Department, Department of Health and Ageing and the Department
of Employment and Workplace Relations.
[20]

Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination

In 2004 new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs were
introduced with the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission (ATSIC) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS).
Responsibility for programs was transferred to mainstream agencies. The Office
of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC) was established to coordinate policy
nationally, and Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs) were established in each
of the former ATSIC regions to deliver a whole of government approach to
programs on a regional basis and to negotiate with Indigenous communities at the
local level.

This framework places ICCs in an integral role to deliver services and
programs to address family violence and child abuse through mechanisms such as
Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRAs) and Regional Partnership Agreements
(RPAs). Examples of ICC led family violence related initiatives are outlined
below.[21] In most cases these
initiatives are delivered through a mix of SRA, RPA and program-supplemented
funding.

South Australia

  • Metro-Adelaide ‘Nunga Mi:Minar’ SRA: Signed in
    June 2007 to improve education, health and well being for Indigenous women
    experiencing family violence by assisting women at the Nungar Mi:Minar
    Women’s shelter. An Aboriginal health worker has been employed to promote
    a healthy lifestyle program focusing on good nutrition; maternal and child
    health; and life management skills. The SRA brings together the Australian
    Government’s Department of Health and Ageing; Department of Families,
    Communities and Indigenous Affairs; the SA Government Departments of Education
    and Children’s Services; and the metropolitan Indigenous women’s
    shelter, Nungar Mi:Minar.
  • RPA for Community Family Wellbeing: Negotiated for the West Coast of
    South Australia to incorporate services for family violence, community safety,
    housing, youth issues, education, outreach programs to youth at risk and
    women’s leadership development.

Victoria

  • Hope Opportunity Purpose Education and Employment (HOPE) SRA:
    Negotiated in Mildura to reduce anti-social behaviour among Indigenous youth
    through increased school attendance and educational performance. The SRA uses
    sporting activities to engage youth and families in the education
    process.

New South Wales

  • Dubbo East West Strategy SRA: Targets family violence and child
    sexual abuse through a focus on prevention, capacity building and early
    intervention. The SRA uses performing arts to engage children, youth, staff and
    families to build capacity, understanding and resilience in dealing with family
    violence.
  • Bowraville Comprehensive SRA: Developed in response to violence and
    grief in the community. Key partners include the NSW Departments of Aboriginal
    Affairs, Environment and Water, Workplace Relations and Employment, and the
    Australian Government Department of Communications, Information Technology and
    the Arts. The SRA addresses law and order; health; education; employment; and
    families and young people.
  • Family Court SRA: Works across the communities of Kempsey,
    Bowraville, Coffs Harbour and Grafton establishing an Indigenous community based
    contact service to provide information on accessing the Family Court services
    and processes.
  • Miimi Mothers SRA: Covers the purchase of a building to create
    an Indigenous community centre. Miimi Mothers have recently also received
    funding through the FaCSIA Local Answers program to provide services for young
    people to build capacity, voluntary services and support for Indigenous women at
    risk of family violence and abuse.
  • Inner City Aboriginal Women’s Consultative Group (ICAWCG)
    SRA
    : ICAWCG is a group of highly respected women
    from the Redfern Waterloo area who formed the Redfern Waterloo Indigenous
    Women's Consultative Group. This group formed in order to engage with government
    to improve outcomes for women and their families in the Redfern Waterloo area.
    The SRA is a community and whole-of-government response to identified priority
    issues, and includes support for the ‘Blackout Violence
    Project’[22] program which
    addresses violence prevention and child abuse in Indigenous communities. The SRA
    is linked to the Redfern Waterloo Authority's Human Service Plan that aims to
    reduce family violence

Northern
Territory
[23]

  • Palmerston Indigenous Village (PIV): Darwin ICC has developed
    a community development project in partnership with residents and the Palmerston
    City Council. The Palmerston City Council employs 2 people at PIV. One position
    acts as a community development officer and the other specifically targets young
    people at risk of entering the criminal justice system (funded by
    Attorney-General's Department through the ICC).

    Strategies to reduce
    family and community safety include: identification of ‘dry houses’;
    improving relationships with local police; and working with service providers to
    improve access to program for local people. As a result of these strategies,
    school attendance of primary age students is now close to 100%.

  • Maningrida Youth Centre Project: Developed by Darwin ICC and drawing
    on a range of partners including the Northern Territory Government, this project
    has a focus on reducing youth violence and self-harm by developing youth
    leadership and self reliance skills. The youth centre serves as a hub for
    programs and services and makes links across the local school, community
    organisations and Indigenous leadership forums.
  • Nhulunbuy: Nhulunbuy ICC employs an Indigenous officer who
    participates in the local Child Protection Committee, convened by the NT Family
    and Children’s Services Office. Nhulunbuy ICC also funds a local
    Indigenous language radio project, Aboriginal Resource and Development Services
    (ARDS), for the production of educational material in Yolgnu Matha, to address
    aspects of family violence in a culturally appropriate manner.

Queensland

  • Positive Families - Men’s Leadership and Support SRA:
    Focuses on providing support for families through the establishment of a
    Bowen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men's Support Group. Activities
    include provision of governance and leadership training, mentoring, a Men's
    Support Group and cultural camps for young males at risk. One of the group's
    first initiatives has been the development of an Adopted Uncle mentoring program
    to support young people and help them to develop life skills.
  • Rowoarr Community Justice Rehabilitation Centre
    SRA
    : Establishment of an alcohol rehabilitation
    facility to provide accommodation for 15 people in a safe, healthy and
    supportive family environment. The facility is accessible to residents of both
    Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama and provides a way of keeping families together during
    rehabilitation.

Western Australia

  • Djugarargyn Aboriginal Community SRA: Enables implementation
    of a three-part strategy to promote functional and resilient families using and
    building on facilities at Djugarargyn.

The first component
comprises the Diversionary/ Lifeskills Program, a series of short courses
focusing on diversionary activities underpinned by cultural awareness. Courses
have been successfully run in partnership with the Djarindjin/ Lombadina
School.

The second component is the Youth Camp/ Leadership Development Program which
is a more formal program aimed at providing young people with essential skills
in dealing with conflict, avoidance of drugs and awareness of support services.
This program links participants with role models who may include elders,
teachers and local police.

The final component, the Emergency Accommodation Support Program provides
short-term crisis accommodation for youth, particularly girls and young women,
who are at risk of self-harm, domestic violence and drug use.

  • Strengthening Families SRA: Provides a day centre for West
    Kimberley men who are disadvantaged, unemployed, homeless, alcoholic, welfare
    dependant or who have been involved in family violence.

The Men's
Service supports and enables Indigenous men by:

  • working to develop better relations and understanding between the local
    Shire, Western Australian Police Department and the Western Australian Justice
    Department;
  • assisting men to access support services such as the Western Australian
    Department of Community Development (Welfare services);
  • encouraging men to work positively with Jayida Burru (family violence
    prevention);
  • promoting the men's centre locally as a place to rebuild a sense of identity
    and responsibility as an Indigenous man strong in language, lore and culture;
    and
  • promoting opportunities for Indigenous men to regain respect in their
    community and rebuild family unity.
  • Martu Elders Patrol SRA: The Parnpajinya Community on the
    outskirts of the Newman township is exposed to high levels of drunkenness,
    disorderly conduct and domestic disputes, resulting in a large cohort of youth
    disengaging from education and engaging in substance use and criminal
    behaviour.

The SRA addresses these issues through:

  • the Elders Patrol which locates truant children and works with the child and
    parent/ carer to identify the issues that stop the child attending school;
  • a breakfast program;
  • patrols of known drinking areas to locate those people who are at risk of
    harming themselves or harming others as a result of excessive alcohol
    consumption;
  • cultural bush trips; and
  • capacity building of parents.
  • Mullewa Women’s Indigenous Group SRA: Enabling the renovation
    of the Indigenous Women’s Centre to provide a range of activities which
    address feuding, family violence and relationship breakdown.
  • Geraldton Comprehensive Youth Program SRA: Strengthens youth
    at risk services and family support networks through:
    • provision of a Youth Night Outreach Program;
    • establishment of culturally appropriate diversionary activities that enable
      youth to reconnect with families; address substance misuse and offending; and
      re-engage with education or employment;
    • family counselling program; and
    • renovation of the Alice Nannup Youth Art Centre.

Attorney General’s Department

  • Indigenous Legal Aid Program: Funds organisations to deliver
    high quality, culturally inclusive legal aid services to Indigenous Australians.
    This network delivers services at 78 permanent sites, court circuits and
    outreach locations in urban, rural and remote areas throughout all States and
    Territories. These organisations provide a range of services including initial
    legal advice, minor assistance and referral, duty lawyer assistance and legal
    casework services in criminal, civil and family law matters.

    In addition, service providers have developed new initiatives for
    the increased representation of Indigenous women and children. These
    include:

    • the establishment of a Family Violence Team that comprises a female
      Aboriginal contact officer and a dedicated Aboriginal field officer, in three
      service areas in New South Wales (Dubbo (Western NSW), Grafton (North NSW) and
      Parramatta (Central-South-Eastern NSW)); and
    • the establishment of Family Law Units comprising eight family lawyers who
      cover four offices and provide Family Law Services including care and protection
      orders with offices in Dubbo, Lismore, Wagga Wagga and Sydney.

    The program has a three-year funding cycle, the current contracts
    end in June 2008. In 2006-07, $48.175 million was provided under service
    contracts and $169,000 for test case funding. In addition, $1.543 million was
    provided under the pilot Expensive Indigenous Criminal Case Fund, and $1.847
    million was provided for capital and associated management costs. $50.796
    million has been allocated for the program in 2007-08.

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services: Funding for legal services
    to assist Indigenous adults and children who are victims of family violence, or
    who are at immediate risk of such violence, in remote and regional Australia.
    FVPLS are also funded under the Early Intervention Prevention Program to
    intervene in the cycle of family violence and sexual assault, to bring about
    changes in the behaviour and attitude of individuals and the community.

    FVPLS units run on one year contracts and provide a range of
    services to address and prevent family violence and sexual abuse. These include
    legal advice and casework assistance, counselling, child protection and support
    to assist in protecting victims from further violence and abuse. The units also
    provide information, support and referral services, and conduct community
    promotion and prevention initiatives to ensure communities are aware of their
    legal rights and how to seek assistance. In addition, referrals to mediation
    programs help prevent an escalation of conflict into physical violence. In the
    first three quarters of the 2006-07 financial year FVPLS units assisted 4, 908
    clients

  • Prevention Diversion Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice
    Program
    : Funding for community organisations to undertake projects to
    divert Indigenous Australians away from contact with the criminal justice
    system, and also facilitate activities to rehabilitate and support for people in
    custody. Projects include: night patrols; restorative justice initiatives around
    community and individual alternate dispute resolution activities; and programs
    for young people at risk.

    $8.522 million was spent on the program in 2006-07, with an
    additional $635,000 for Shared Responsibility Agreements. $13.252 million has
    been allocated in 2007-08, including new funding to convert over 117 CDEP
    positions into full jobs as night patrol workers. PDRR has also received $8.211
    million in 2007-08 through the NTER Night Patrol NPP (Appropriation Bill
    August 2007)
    .

  • National Community Crime Prevention Program: Funding for grassroots
    projects designed to enhance community safety and crime prevention. Funding is
    administered through three streams:
  1. Community Partnerships stream;
  2. Indigenous Community Safety stream; and
  3. the Community Safety stream.

    To date 311 projects totalling $56 million have been
    awarded under this program. Of these, 38 are Indigenous Community Safety stream
    projects totalling $5 million.

  • Community Legal Services Program: Community legal centres
    (CLCs) are independent, community based, non-profit organisations, which provide
    assistance on legal and related matters to people on low incomes and those with
    special needs.

    CLC’s received $25.712 million in 2006-07, including
    $1,029,283 for Indigenous Women’s Programs (IWPs). IWPs provide community
    development, community legal education, and outreach services to rural and/ or
    urban fringe communities. They provide assistance across a range of legal issues
    family law, tenancy, domestic and sexual violence and consumer rights law.

    In 2007-08, $1,050,073 has been allocated to eight community legal centres
    for IWPs to provide services specifically for Indigenous women to assist in
    addressing their legal service needs. IWPs are located in Sydney (statewide),
    Brisbane (statewide), Townsville/ Cairns, Port Augusta, Geraldton, Kimberley,
    Pilbara region and Katherine.

  • Indigenous Family Violence Liaison Officers at the Family Court of
    Western Australia
    : In the 2007-08 Budget, the Australian Government
    committed $700,000 over three years to an Indigenous liaison pilot program in
    the Family Court of Western Australia.

    Two Indigenous Family
    Liaison Officers will be employed to improve the delivery of family law services
    and access to justice for Indigenous families in Western Australia. The program
    will also improve access to counselling and mediation for Indigenous families in
    conflict, and improve access to family law services by Indigenous communities.

  • Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service: Interpreter
    service for Indigenous individuals with limited English language skills to
    better understand the legal process and better understand their legal rights.
    The initiative provides training for interpreters as well as financial
    assistance to the Indigenous legal aid services and FVPLS units in the Territory
    for the purchase of interpreting services.

    The Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) is
    jointly funded by the Australian and Northern Territory governments and received
    $1.107 million in 2006-07. A further $1.133 million has been allocated in
    2007-08, with an additional $550,000 allocated as part of the NT NER. The
    Attorney-General’s Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding
    with the Northern Territory Government covering funding for four years
    commencing 2005-06.

  • Family Violence Law Strategy: Announced on 26 February 2006 by
    the Attorney-General, the strategy supports the reforms relating to family
    violence contained in the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental
    Responsibility) Act
    2006.

    From 1 July 2006 the Family Law Act 1975 requires
    courts to take prompt action in relation to allegations of child abuse or family
    violence, particularly that it receives adequate information so that appropriate
    orders can be made and protection provided. A new objective has also been
    inserted into the Act to make it clear that children need to be protected not
    only from direct harm, but also from harm that comes from being exposed to
    family violence against others.

    The Family Court of Australia has also implemented the Magellan
    Project
    , which operates nationally to deal with disputes involving serious
    allegations of child abuse and child sexual abuse. It involves an intensive case
    management approach combined with close stakeholder relations between the Court,
    legal aid, and State and Territory services such as child protection and
    Independent Children's Lawyers.

  • Family Relationships Services Program: The Attorney
    General’s Department has joint responsibility with FaCSIA for the Family
    Relationships Services Program. This program funds a range of services to assist
    families experiencing relationship difficulties or who have separated. These
    include new Family Relationship Centres which provide information for families
    with relationship issues, as well as referral to other services that can assist.

    The first 15 of 65 Family Relationship Centres were established in
    July 2006 to provide information and referral to help strengthen family
    relationships, and dispute resolution to help parents reach agreement about
    their children after separation. Advisers for Indigenous communities were
    attached to offices in Darwin, Townsville, Lismore and Mildura. The Darwin
    Family Relationships Centre employs three Indigenous Advisers - two operate out
    of the Darwin office and one operates out of Alice Springs.

Department of Health and Ageing

  • National Illicit Drug Strategy ‘Tough on Drugs’ Indigenous
    Communities Initiative
    : Worth $10.5 million over four years and part of a
    larger $20 million package of initiatives announced by the Prime Minister on 28
    August 2003 to reduce the incidence of violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander communities by developing local solutions to issues that contribute to
    violence such as drug and alcohol abuse.

    The Department of Health and Ageing developed the Initiative in
    conjunction with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives. Projects
    funded under this Initiative address key areas for action identified in the
    National Drug Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
    Complementary Action Plan 2003-2009
    endorsed by the Ministerial Council on
    Drug Strategy.

    Current projects/programs funded under this Initiative during 2006-07
    include:

    1. Alcohol and Other Drug component of the Indigenous HealthlnfoNet -
      $138,444.
    2. Implementation and Distribution Strategy for the Alcohol Treatment
      Guidelines for Indigenous Australians - $197,698.
    3. Pilot trial of the Alcohol Treatment Guidelines for Indigenous Australians
      and an evidence-based brief intervention tool in two Aboriginal Community
      Controlled Health Services - $5,797.
    4. Satellite broadcast promoting the Alcohol Treatment Guidelines for
      Indigenous Australians - $205,200.
    5. Indigenous National Alcohol and other Drug Workforce Development program -
      $950,710.
    6. Strong Spirit Strong Mind Video Resources - $269,580.
    7. Pilbara Drug & Alcohol Program (SRA) - $465,000.
    8. Smoking Cessation Program - $63,435.
    9. Larapinta Learning Centre - $133,291.
    10. Mt Theo Substance Misuse Program - $ 109,091.
    11. Indigenous Risk Impact Screen (IRIS) and Brief Intervention State-wide
      Implementation Project - $281,179.
    12. Substance Misuse Community Resilience Program - $31,578.
    13. Gender specific inhalant abuse flipcharts - $25,850.
    14. Inhalant Misuse: a review of interventions - $77,288.
    15. Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Strategic Intervention project With NT
      Indigenous Communities - $116,784.
    16. Booroloola Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program - $43,000.
    17. Doomagee Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program - $15,440.
    18. Indigenous Alcohol Intervention Program - $177,525.
  • National Illicit Drug Strategy - Capacity Building in Indigenous
    Communities
    : In May 2005, the Australian Government provided funding
    of $8 million over four years. Funding under this Initiative is available for
    projects on a trial and/ or one-off basis and organisations that apply for
    funding must already have secured core funding, given that the funding under
    this Initiative is not designed for this purpose.

    Current projects funded under this Initiative during 2006-07
    include:

    1. National Drug Research Institution Indigenous Alcohol Intervention Program,
      Stage 2 - $750,000.
    2. Mt. Theo Substance Misuse Program - $108,400.
    3. Supporting Young People and Families, Bathurst SRA program - $34,080.
    4. South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation - $127,640.
    5. Aboriginal Health council of SA - $15,774.
    6. National Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative: Indigenous
      programs are funded to prevent petrol sniffing and inhalant abuse. Youth
      Wellbeing Programs are run in Central and Top End Northern Territory by Central
      Australian Youth Link-up Services (auspiced by Tangentyere Council) and the
      Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs. Combined funding for the 2006-07
      financial year was approximately $356,666.
    7. Healthy for Life: Introduced in 2005-06 to support primary
      health care services to improve child and maternal health and chronic disease
      care and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Over 80
      primary health care services are participating in Healthy for Life in all States
      and Territories through 53 sites. Over 88% of primary health care services
      funded through Healthy for Life are located in regional and remote areas.

Healthy For Life is implemented in 2 phases by funded
services. In phase 1, services undertake an assessment of current client
population needs and an extensive 'stock-take' of existing model/s of care and
systems of service delivery. In phase 2, services implement approved action
plans and report twice annually on progress to achieving the specific program
outcomes.

  • Health@Home Plus: As announced in the 2007-08 Federal Budget
    the Australian Government will provide $37.4 million over four years to support
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-8 years in targeted remote
    and outer regional areas. Commencing in the prenatal period, health
    professionals will provide regular home visiting services to women pregnant with
    an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, continuing until the
    child is 2 years. Child and family support will be provided to high need
    children aged 2-8 years.

    40 new Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarships will also be
    offered through this initiative for child health related fields of study to
    support the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child
    health workforce.

    Health@Home Plus will aim to improve health and wellbeing outcomes
    for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families by
    providing home based social and parenting support, coordinating health care
    and assisting parents and children to access other support services.

    The program will be implemented from a small base (i.e. two trial sites in
    the first year), building up to 7 trial sites over four years.

Department of Employment and Workplace
Relations

  • Working for Families (WfF)
    Initiative
    [24]: An additional
    1,000 CDEP participant places were provided to the CDEP programme per annum for
    four years from 2003-04 to 2006-07. WfF was introduced to address the family
    violence and substance misuse problems prevalent in many remote Aboriginal
    communities by supporting project activities including:

    • Night patrols;
    • Police aides;
    • Women's support programmes; and
    • Substance abuse programmes.

    In 2003, funding of $44.4 million over four years was
    provided. Operational costs of approximately $4m a year to cover the on-costs of
    organisations delivering the CDEP programme were to be absorbed within the CDEP
    programme budget. In 2007 the Australian Government committed $50.7 million to
    continue funding 1,000 CDEP places per annum over the next four years.

    In 2007 the Australian Government committed to the continuation of
    projects that are aimed at preventing and addressing family violence and
    substance misuse problems that affect many remote Indigenous communities. It
    is not clear how this will occur, i.e. whether CDEP positions will be converted
    to regular employment.

top | contents

Part 3: State and Territory
Government Responses to Indigenous Family Violence and Child
Abuse

1) New South Wales

Much of the recent policy focus on Indigenous child sexual assault and family
violence in NSW is the result of the 2006 Breaking the Silence: Creating the
Future
[25] report of the
Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce
(ACSAT).[26]

The Aboriginal Child and Sexual Assault Taskforce was established in 2003 in
response to the Roundtables on sexual violence in Aboriginal communities
conducted by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 2001-02. It was also
established due to the finding of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory
Council’s 2002 report Speak Out, Speak Strong that approximately
70% of Aboriginal women in NSW prisons had been sexually assaulted as
children.[27]

ACSAT found that child sexual assault is an endemic problem in NSW Indigenous
communities. Both boys and girls are victims, and perpetrators are often people
close to the child. Child sexual assault is not well understood by the community
and often goes unreported. The harm of child sexual assault is intergenerational
and contributes to drug use, violence, criminal offending, and mental
illness.

Although ACSAT found some good practice responding to child sexual assault,
especially in Indigenous specific non-government organisations, there were
significant barriers to accessing services and poor coordination between
government agencies. Access to culturally appropriate counselling for victims
was very limited, treatment for sex offenders was also limited, with treatment
only available in correctional facilities and there was no state or commonwealth
policy framework on child sexual assault. The report made 119 recommendations to
eliminate service gaps and overcome barriers to accessing services. Overall the
recommendations point to the need for effective, cooperative and community
driven partnerships to tackle child sexual assault.

The report was published in June 2006 but the NSW government did not release
its response until January 2007, despite sustained lobbying from the Indigenous
community and other stakeholders. The Social Justice Commissioner also gave
support to the ACSAT:

I am not so convinced that to date, the Taskforce’s report has been
treated with the urgency and priority that it deserves, or that it has been
progressed in a manner consistent with the commitments made by the NSW
government. And that is also why I am here today – to lend my voice and
support to the report and to the directions that it sets forth for government
and community partnerships and
action.[28]

Much concern has also been expressed at the scale of the government’s
response, which involves the re-badging of existing expenditure, with very few
additional resources being allocated.

a) Policy Frameworks

NSW Interagency Action Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Assault in
Aboriginal
Communities
2006-2011
[29]

The NSW Government released its NSW Interagency Plan to Tackle Child
Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities 2006-2011
, in January 2007 in
response to the Breaking the silence: creating the future report. The
five-year plan contains 88 actions focused on four strategic directions: law
enforcement; child protection; prevention and early intervention; and community
leadership to be implemented at a total cost of $30 million. Several actions are
being implemented statewide, while others are being implemented in specific
locations.

NSW State
Plan
[30]

The Government’s 10-year strategic plan contains priorities aimed at
reducing family violence and abuse in Indigenous communities. These are:

  • improved health, education and social outcomes for Aboriginal people;
  • strengthening Aboriginal communities;
  • embedding the principle of early intervention and prevention into government
    service delivery in NSW; and
  • reducing the rates of child abuse and neglect.

The State Plan builds on and links commitments made under
existing whole-of-government plans such as the Interagency Plan to Tackle
Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities
and Two Ways Together.

Two Ways
Together
[31]

Two Ways Together (TWT), initiated in 2003, is the NSW
Government’s 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of
Aboriginal people. In 2004, the Government approved $40 million in funding over
4 years for initiatives in 7 priority areas including health, education,
economic development, justice, culture and heritage, housing and infrastructure,
and families and young people.

TWT sets the direction for a whole-of-government approach in Aboriginal
affairs by ensuring that existing and new programs are linked to clear
outcomes.

Regional Action Plans have been developed for 8 regions to implement the TWT
programs and initiatives. The plans contain actions which either directly
address family violence and child sexual assault, or which address causal
factors such as education, housing and employment.

In 2007, TWT was aligned with the NSW State Plan to ensure that goals
and targets are complementary. The State Plan goal of Strengthening
Aboriginal Communities
encompasses priority objectives of safe families,
education, environmental health, economic development and building community
resilience, which will guide TWT activity.

NSW Aboriginal Family Health Strategy

This strategy began in 1998 and focused on the funding of Aboriginal Family
Health Workers involved in locally based projects to address Aboriginal health.
Under the current program, two Area Health Services and 13 non-government
organisations receive funding for 18 Aboriginal Family Health Workers.
Aboriginal Family Health Projects are located at Hamilton, Taree, Wyong,
Kempsey, Wagga Wagga, Tobwabba, Walgett, Wellington, Yorana, Tweed Heads,
Wallsend and Moree.

In 2007-08, the NSW Aboriginal Family Violence Strategy will replace
the Aboriginal Family Health Strategy. The new Strategy will continue to involve
Aboriginal Family Health Workers, and will address issues of family violence,
sexual assault and child abuse in Aboriginal communities by providing a
framework for dealing with these concerns in a culturally appropriate manner
across Area Health Services.

The Family Violence Strategy will incorporate operational guidelines
for Aboriginal Family Health Workers, including mandatory training, professional
development, supervision, mentoring, planning, monitoring and evaluation, and
information on the range of available domestic violence, sexual assault and
child abuse services, and guidelines for responses to family violence offending
in Aboriginal communities.

Guidelines for Responses to Family Violence Offending in Aboriginal
Communities

These Guidelines were developed in 2006-07 and describe the nature and
variation of family violence in Aboriginal communities, and clarify NSW
Health’s role in prevention, protection and intervention in relation to
family violence offending. The Guidelines provide a brief description of
jurisdictions’ services with associated referral pathways that support,
and give context to, responses to family violence.

Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Strategy

The Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) provides
antenatal and post-natal support for Aboriginal women through community midwives
and Aboriginal health education officers.

The AMIHS involves midwives, Aboriginal health workers and education officers
working in small teams to conduct activities such as prenatal checks, support
during pregnancy, education and information, postnatal checks and transport
assistance.

The 3-year evaluation[32] of the
initial sites for the Strategy reported that the perinatal mortality rate
decreased from 18.6 per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 5.4 per 1,000 live births
in 2004.

Department of Community Services Aboriginal Strategic Commitment
and
Commitment of Service to Aboriginal Communities

The Aboriginal Strategic Commitment developed in
2006-07[33] explicitly recognises
the impact of past government policies on Aboriginal people and communities and
is underpinned by two key elements:

  • in all programs, services and initiatives, DoCS is respectful and responsive
    to the diverse needs of Aboriginal people and communities; and
  • Aboriginal children and young people are safe, nurtured and cared for in
    their families and communities.

Aboriginal Child, Youth and Family
Strategy
[34]

This Strategy forms part of NSW’s Families First prevention and early
intervention strategies aimed at improving outcomes for Aboriginal children,
young people, their families and communities. The Strategy has established 22
Aboriginal Family Workers across NSW, located in a number of Aboriginal and
mainstream organisations. Programs include Aboriginal Supported Playgroups and
support groups for grandparents caring for grandchildren.

NSW Police Force Aboriginal Strategic Direction
2007-2011
[35]

The Aboriginal Strategic Direction sets out clear objectives, strategies and
actions as well as timeframes for achieving them. Major themes of the Plan
include:

  • communication and understanding between Police and Aboriginal people;
  • community safety and fear of crime;
  • Aboriginal cultural awareness within the NSW Police Force;
  • numbers of Aboriginal officers and civilian staff in NSW Police;
  • keeping Aboriginal youth away from criminal and anti-social behaviour;
  • dealing effectively with family violence and sexual assault;
  • Aboriginal substance abuse; and
  • how to reduce offending and over-representation of Aboriginal people in the
    justice system.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Overarching Agreement on Aboriginal Affairs between the Commonwealth of
Australia and the State of New South Wales

The Overarching Agreement on Aboriginal Affairs between the Commonwealth
of Australia and the State of New South Wales
(also referred to as the
Bilateral Agreement on Service Delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders in New South Wales
) was signed on 17 April 2006.

This five-year agreement aims to improve Indigenous access to services. It is
part of the implementation of Two Ways Together: the NSW Aboriginal Affairs
Plan 2003-2012.
The two governments have agreed upon action regarding:

  • wealth and employment;
  • entrepreneurialism;
  • living conditions;
  • health and social outcomes in Indigenous communities; and
  • better integration of government services to Indigenous communities.

Implementation of the agreement will be supervised by the
Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs Group, which has been established for this
purpose.

COAG Family Violence Action Strategy

The NSW Government is working with the Australian Government across a range
of priorities under the National Strategy for action to overcome violence and
child abuse in Indigenous Communities,
[36] as set out below.

Law enforcement

NSW has seconded two Police officers to the National Indigenous Violence and
Child Abuse Intelligence Taskforce that is head quartered in Alice Springs.

Senior Indigenous Networks

At the Summit, the Australian Government announced funding of $4 million to
support leadership development of Indigenous women and men in Indigenous
communities. NSW has been advised that its application for three programs has
been unsuccessful. The programs included a statewide multimedia campaign and a
legal education program to be rolled out to the four focus communities in the
Interagency Plan; an extension of the Targeted Aboriginal Student Strategy; and
provision of cultural camps to three focus communities. NSW will implement these
actions in the context of the Interagency Plan.

Protection for victims

In May 2007, the Australian Government announced funding of $2.23 million in
2007-08 and 2008-09 for four programs in NSW that address family violence:

  • Weaving the Net Community Development Program – a community
    development and education program which works with community members, local and
    regional service providers, and appropriate Aboriginal leaders to build
    awareness of the dynamics of child sexual assault and to develop resources for
    addressing family violence and child abuse;
  • Aboriginal Family Health Workers – funding will provide two
    Aboriginal Family Health Workers in Broken Hill;
  • four Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers (ACLO) – ACLOs work
    in Police Local Area Commands and provide a range of community facilitator
    roles, supporting Aboriginal women to report family violence, assisting with
    resolving disputes, and implementing solutions to crime and violence; and
  • the Orana Far West Safe Houses program.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services

NSW Health and the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
(OATSIH) are currently in negotiations to jointly fund drug and alcohol
rehabilitation services for Aboriginal people. The NSW Centre for Aboriginal
Health provided funding for drug and alcohol programs, including residential
programs, to 16 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in 2006-07.
NSW already provides a range of drug and alcohol services, including programs
delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Health and Wellbeing of Children

NSW Health is working with the Australian Government Department of Health and
Ageing to implement the roll-out of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Child Health Check in Coonamble and Gulargambone. An additional site will be
established at Nyngan or Warren in 2007-08.

Corporate governance

The Australian Government proposed at the Summit that funding guidelines be
amended to ensure that government funding, from all levels of government, be
restricted to organisations managed by fit and proper persons. NSW gave
in-principle agreement to this proposal. NSW is committed to supporting and
developing Aboriginal community leadership and governance. NSW supports
mechanisms that ensure Aboriginal representation and involvement in
decision-making that affects Indigenous well-being. This is being done through
Community Working Parties at a local level, and through the Regional Engagement
Groups which have been established to drive the implementation of Two Ways
Together
at the regional level. The Regional Engagement Groups include
representation from Aboriginal communities and State and Federal Government
agencies. In addition, NSW has recently amended the Aboriginal Land Rights
Act 1983
to improve the corporate governance of the NSW Aboriginal Land
Council network.

Compulsory school attendance

NSW has made improvements to its collection of data in relation to school
attendance by Aboriginal students. NSW government schools make a return of
absences at the end of each semester. The data is disaggregated by school, term,
year, region, school grade, school levels and gender. From Semester 1, 2006 the
return now includes data on Aboriginal students.

c) Monitoring and Evaluation

Two Ways Together

TWT Regional Reports were released in November 2006. The Reports bring
together data about Aboriginal people and the government services for each of
the Regional Coordination Management Group (RCMG) regions of
NSW.[37]

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs prepares biennial indicator reports on
the progress of TWT. The next report is due in early 2008.

State Plan

Lead Ministers and relevant CEOs will be required to report to the Government
on their progress in delivering State Plan priorities. Performance data
on the priorities will be published on the State Plan website as soon as
it is available. A State Plan Annual Report will also be published
providing an analysis of the progress to date and will identify emerging
challenges and any new programs or strategies that have been introduced.

d) Programs

Healing approaches:

  • Victims Services Approved Counsellors: This is a non-Indigenous
    specific service but Victims Services Approved Counsellors have been undertaking
    training in cultural competence developed by the Education Centre Against
    Violence to ensure that counsellors have the skills and knowledge to work with
    Aboriginal clients.

Community education and community development:

  • Greater Taree Domestic Violence Community Development Project
    ($50,000 in 2006-07): Education resources aimed at raising awareness among
    GPs, community organisations and teachers, of referral points and appropriate
    ways of identifying and addressing domestic violence. The project also involves
    a series of 5-day camps for young Aboriginal women and girls aged between 12 and
    24 years.
  • Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) ($595,660 in 2006-07):
    Weaving the Net program, outlined above. ECAV also has a Memorandum of
    Understanding with the Aboriginal Community Consultative Group to provide advice
    and support in the development and implementation of all-Aboriginal focused
    programs and resources.
  • Our Kids: Stay Safe, Stay Strong 2007 Calendar and Activity Book:
    Calendar and activity book using children’s art work to denounce
    violence. The activity book is an interactive resource tool aimed at building
    the awareness, skills and safety networks of
    children to protect them from violence and abuse in their families and
    communities.
  • Lismore City Council ‘Indigenous Girls Well-Being Camp’
    ($16,200 in 2006-07): Camps include presentations on sexual health &
    wellbeing, understanding domestic violence, negotiating the legal system,
    healthy relationships, self-defence and self-esteem.
  • Community Justice Centres ‘Conflict Management training’
    ($263,000 over 3 years): Delivery of conflict awareness and conflict
    management training for Aboriginal community members. The program targets
    awareness of the indicators of family violence as well as larger community
    disputes that have the propensity to escalate into violent confrontations. The
    training has been conducted in 4 communities, with another 12 communities
    scheduled for 2008.

Culturally appropriate child protection services:

  • Aboriginal Intensive Family-Based Services (IFBS)($3.688 million in
    2006-07): Aimed at reducing the number of Aboriginal children and young people
    entering out-of-home care by providing three month intensive home-based program
    to families whose children are at risk of out-of-home care, predominantly
    arising from drug and alcohol abuse and family violence.
  • Brighter Futures: Involves DoCS working with non-government and
    community partner organisations to provide early intervention services to
    vulnerable children aged 0-8 years and their families. The program has a strong
    focus on supporting Aboriginal families, and between 2007 and 2010 will invest
    $5 million in Aboriginal-specific programs and services.

Programs for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or
abuse (including juveniles):

  • Circle Sentencing ($1.015 million per annum): Alternative sentencing
    court for adult Aboriginal offenders. It directly involves local Aboriginal
    people (including victims) in the process of sentencing offenders, with the aims
    of making it more meaningful and improving confidence in the criminal justice
    system. It also empowers Aboriginal people to address criminal behaviour within
    their local communities.

    Circle sentencing is used for offences that can be dealt with
    summarily. Serious offences such as malicious wounding, drug-related offences
    and sexual offences are excluded.

    The program operates at Local Courts in Nowra, Dubbo, Walgett, Brewarrina,
    Bourke, Lismore, Armidale and Kempsey, with the program to expand into Western
    Sydney (Mt Druitt).

  • New Street Service for Adolescents ($500,000 in 2006-07):
    Non-Indigenous specific service in Western Sydney that provides therapeutic
    service for families that addresses abusive behaviours in young people aged
    between 10 and 17 years.
  • Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment Program (MERIT):
    Diversionary program for offenders with alcohol and drug use problems. The
    Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council are developing a best practice
    model to deliver the MERIT program to Aboriginal defendants. The referral rate
    for Aboriginal defendants is around the same as their representation in the
    local court population but their completion rate is lower than non-Aboriginal
    defendants.
  • Walking Together ($299,000 in 2006-07): Group program targeted at
    Aboriginal male and female offenders, who are supervised by Community Offender
    Services at the Probation and Parole Service in Newtown and Redfern. The program
    provides a 16 session intervention for Aboriginal male perpetrators of family
    violence; a 16 session intervention for Aboriginal female perpetrators of family
    violence including strategies for reporting violence against children; and a 15
    session intervention for Aboriginal male and female offenders to assist
    offenders to control alcohol consumption related to violent and non-violent
    offending.
  • Our Journey To Respect’ Program ($12,960
    in 2006-07): Intergenerational violence prevention program targeting young
    Aboriginal males 14-18 years who have committed or are at risk of committing
    violent offences, run by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • Mallee Family Care ‘Our Journey to Respect’ ($26,000 in
    2006-07): Group program, conducted in South Western NSW that seeks to facilitate
    participants’ movement from relationships based on power and control
    towards relationships based on respect. It targets young Aboriginal males 12-17
    years who have committed or are at risk of committing violent offences.

Community justice groups:

  • Aboriginal Community Justice Groups ($1.2 million in 2006-07):
    Aboriginal Community Justice Groups look at offending behaviour in their
    community and develop local solutions to that behaviour. They also work with
    different parts of the criminal justice system and play a major role in the
    circle sentencing program. Groups are currently located in 17 communities.
    Lismore, Grafton, Maclean, Kempsey, Toronto, Redfern, Wollongong, Nowra, Wagga
    Wagga, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Armidale and Moree.

Safe houses and services for women and children:

  • Orana Far West Safe Houses Project: Partnership with the Australian
    Government to deliver an integrated family violence service delivery package
    building the capacity of five safe houses in Bourke, Brewarrina, Lightning
    Ridge, Walgett and Wilcannia to address safety issues for women and children at
    risk of family violence.
  • Staying Home Leaving Violence ($4.8 million over four years):
    Framework that helps women and children stay safely in their homes by removing
    the violent partner, funded through the Supported Accommodation Assistance
    Program. This is non-Indigenous specific service, currently running in Bega,
    Eastern Sydney and Western Sydney.

Crime prevention programs:

  • Aboriginal Community Assistance Patrols ($1.06 million in
    2006-07): Community Patrols operate within 14 locations across New South Wales
    in Armidale, Bourke, Brewarrina, Dareton, Dubbo, Kempsey, Mungindi, Nambucca,
    Newcastle, Nowra, La Perouse, Taree, Wilcannia and Ballina.
  • Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers ($5.88 million in
    2006-07): Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers operate in 50 communities across
    NSW and provide a key liaison point between Aboriginal communities and local
    police.

Men’s Groups:

  • Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre: Provides support to Aboriginal young
    people in custody by reinforcing positive role models in the community and
    developing linkages and relationships that assist transition back into the
    community.
  • Rekindling the
    Spirit
    [38] ($464
    000 in 2006-07): Program is targeted at Aboriginal male and female
    community-based offenders who have issues relating to family violence.
    Activities in the program include group-based intervention to address issues of
    family violence and substance abuse; father and son camps; mother and daughters
    camps; and victims programs to support the victims of perpetrators.

2) Queensland

The Queensland Government has commissioned a number of research reports and
inquiries into Indigenous family violence and abuse over the years. The first
major undertaking was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s
Task Force on Violence,
formed in December 1998, in response to demands from
women for urgent action to halt the unprecedented levels of violence in
Indigenous communities across Queensland.

Chaired by Associate Professor Boni Robertson of Griffith University, the
Task Force comprised 50 Indigenous women with relevant knowledge and personal
experience from across the state. A smaller Working Group carried out the
process of research and consultation, visiting Indigenous communities and
interviews throughout Queensland during the first half of 1999. The report,
containing 123 recommendations, was handed to the Minister in October 1999 and
tabled in State Parliament on 2 December 1999.

The Task Force found a disturbing level of violence:

Violence is now overt; murders, bashings and rapes, including sexual
violence against children, have reached epidemic proportions with both
Indigenous and non- Indigenous people being
perpetrators.[39]

Alcohol was identified as a major factor, along with government inaction, the
deterioration of traditional culture and identity and contemporary consequences
of past injustices. The Taskforce attributed the rise of violence in Aboriginal
communities to the failure of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies to
deliver critical services.

The Cape York Justice
Study
[40] was announced
in July 2001 to look at the problem of alcohol and substance misuse in Cape York
Indigenous communities. Although focusing on alcohol, unsurprisingly, the study
made a clear link between alcohol use, family violence and abuse. The Cape
York Justice Study
also documents the fact that there are few services in
the Cape York communities that can address violence and substance abuse, provide
programs for perpetrators, or provide trauma and grief counselling. Further,
those services that are available are based on service models that are not
accessible or relevant to Indigenous people in Cape
York[41].

The Cape York Institute launched From Hand Out to Hand Up: Welfare Reform
Design Recommendations
report that was released on 19 June
2007.[42] The report is based on
work with four Cape York communities – Coen, Aurukun, Hopevale and Mossman
Gorge.

Recommendations in the report are in four areas:

  • Restoring social norms by attaching reciprocity to welfare payments, so that
    for instance, parents will have to ensure 100% attendance of children at school
    to receive welfare payments.
  • Addressing the ‘welfare pedestal’ through changing the
    incentives so that people are encouraged to come off welfare, or not enter
    welfare.
  • Supporting individual engagement in the real economy through converting CDEP
    positions into real jobs, making communities more business friendly and
    introducing measures to support mobility for employment and education.
  • Moving from welfare housing to home ownership.

The report also calls for the establishment of a Family
Responsibility Commission in the Cape. This would be an administrative,
statutory legal agency that would make rulings about whether obligations to
children have been breached by carers and if necessary, enforce sanctions.

Although not specifically targeted at Indigenous children, the Crime and
Misconduct Commission completed an extensive review, Protecting Children: an
inquiry into abuse of children in foster
care
,[43] in 2004. This
identified issues around the need for appropriately resourced and supported
Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agencies to provide appropriate support and
placements for children in care[44]
and assist in connection to family and culture.

a) Policy Frameworks

Strong Indigenous Communities CEO Taskforce

The Queensland Government’s Strong Indigenous Communities CEO Taskforce
is responsible for progressing major policy development areas including:

  • reforming Indigenous social and economic policy;
  • reforming Indigenous governance and land; and
  • addressing Indigenous justice.

Meeting Challenges, Making
Choices
[45]

In response to the Cape York Justice Study, the Queensland Government
released Meeting Challenges, Making Choices: The Queensland Government
response to the Cape York Justice Study
in April 2002. This strategy
identified a range of reforms to address the alcohol and violence issues
afflicting Indigenous communities in Queensland, primarily in the eight key
result areas of:

  • alcohol, substance abuse and rehabilitation;
  • governance;
  • crime and justice;
  • children, youth and families;
  • health;
  • education and training;
  • economic development; and
  • land and sustainable natural resource management.

Partnerships
Queensland
[46]

In 2005, Partnerships Queensland was launched as the strategic policy
framework that consolidates all State initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Queenslanders against the following goal areas:

  • strong families, strong cultures;
  • safe places;
  • healthy living; and
  • skilled and prosperous people and communities.

Child Wellbeing
Taskforce

A Child Wellbeing Taskforce is being established in Queensland to improve
care, development and safety of children in 19 identified communities. The
Taskforce will pilot a place-based approach focused on prevention and early
intervention, and will utilise cross-agency commitment and resources to develop
innovative models of service delivery designed to meet the needs of each
community. It is proposed that the Taskforce, which comprises representatives
from a range of child safety, community, education and health agencies, will
initially focus on the Aboriginal community of Hope Vale.

Queensland Child Protection Strategy
2007-10

The Queensland Government continues to reform its child protection system. A
whole-of-government action plan guides implementation of the strategy over the
next four years. Special consideration is given to meeting the needs of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Lower Gulf Strategy (Probation and
Parole)

In 2006-07, the Queensland Government provided funding of $57.5 million over
five years to establish a new probation and parole service. The service was
designed to provide a permanent presence of probation and parole staff in
Indigenous communities in the Lower Gulf in order to:

  • ensure adequate supervision of offenders on orders;
  • assist offenders with rehabilitation; and
  • assist offenders on parole with reintegration into the community.

To support the strategy the Queensland Government is seeking to
engage trainee Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees to work at each
of the probation and parole offices.

Since the strategy’s commencement, there have been marked improvements
in business practice and improved relationships with the Magistracy and
community groups in the areas. Preliminary data indicates that the strategy is
having a positive effect on diversion from custody, with greater incidence of
parole or probation rather than custodial sentences.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Access Strategy

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access Strategy (Indigenous Access
Strategy) is designed to ensure that the Commission for Children and Young
People (CCYP) services, policies, programs, and practices are:

  • culturally competent;
  • accessible; and
  • effective in protecting and promoting the rights, interests, safety and well
    being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Employment Screening Services
Program (ESSP)

In Queensland, the CCYP conducts employment screening to determine whether
applicants are able to work in categories of employment regulated by the
Commission for Children and Young People and the Child Guardian Act 2000.

The Employment Screening Services Program (ESSP) includes an Indigenous
access strategy that will establish partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities to assist them to identify and manage risks to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, including by
conducting appropriate employment screening.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Delivery
between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of Queensland

The Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service
Delivery between The Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of
Queensland
(the Agreement) was signed in December 2005.

The Agreement is intended to establish arrangements to engage with Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander communities across Queensland. The Agreement is based
upon priorities that were agreed in the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage
Report
and which have subsequently been refined by both governments.

The Australian Government's priority areas are:

  • early childhood intervention, focusing on improved mental and physical
    health;
  • safer communities (including issues of authority, law and order and good
    governance) and developing community capacity; and
  • enhancing 'Indigenous wealth, employment and entrepreneurial culture'.

The Queensland Government's priority areas are:

  • strengthened families and communities and strengthened cultures;
  • safe places (including alcohol management and community-based law and
    justice issues);
  • healthy living (including access to housing issues); and
  • skilled and prosperous people and communities (including access to education
    and training issues).

The key mechanism for Indigenous consultation will be 'Negotiation
Tables'. It is also envisaged that the resulting increase in engagement between
communities and government will provide the basis for the negotiation of Shared
Responsibility Agreements (SRAs).

Schedules to the Agreement identify locations in Queensland receiving
particular attention under the Agreement. During 2005-2006, the Lockhart River
community was to be part of a pilot program for streamlined bureaucratic
processes and more flexible funding. Furthermore, joint government initiatives
in Cape York and on Palm Island are brought under the Agreement. It is intended
that other areas will be identified for specific and coordinated action and
added to Schedule Two.

The Agreement will be monitored by biannual meetings of senior officials, by
joint workshops between government and Indigenous Coordination Centre Managers
and by biannual meetings convened by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Policy and Indigenous Coordination Centres.

Family Responsibility Commission

In mid 2006, the Cape York Institute launched its Welfare Reform Project. In
accordance with the Cape York Agenda the From Hand Out to Hand Up
Report contains a recommendation for a Family Responsibility Commission (FRC) to
be funded by the Australian Government and commence in January 2008.

The FRC will make rulings about whether obligations to children have been
breached by carers, and if necessary enforce a range of sanctions,
including:

  • (a) to issue a warning to an individual;
  • (b) to direct individuals to attend support services on either a voluntary
    or compulsory basis;
  • (c) to order all or part of welfare payments to conditional income
    management (such that the recipient has limited discretion over the expenditure
    of their welfare payments);
  • (d) to determine that all or part of welfare payments be directed to an
    adult that is caring for that individual’s children.

The FRC’s Secretariat will be based in Cairns, but it will
have panels of three people permanently based in each of the four communities
vested with the power of decision-making. The panels would comprise three
people: one legal officer and two Indigenous community members (one male and one
female).

The FRC would be an administrative law tribunal and therefore any decision
made by the body could be appealed. This would take place first by internal
review; then if the appellant was dissatisfied with the result they could appeal
to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

COAG Trial in Cape York

Since late 2005 there has not been any activity specifically relating to the
Cape York Trial, and many stakeholders have accordingly concluded that the Trial
is over. However, there has been no formal end to the process. There is a need
for a COAG or Australian Government decision on whether there is to be any
further action on the Cape York Trial, and clear communication of this to all
relevant parties.[47]

c) Monitoring and Evaluation

Partnerships Queensland - Baseline Report 2006

The Partnerships Queensland Baseline Report 2006 is the first stage of
Partnerships Queensland performance reporting. The report provides the baseline
from which all future progress in improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples in Queensland can be measured. This monitoring process
will measure key indicators of wellbeing and will provide the basis for
developing targeted and prioritised programs and interventions that will address
disadvantage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The report has collated information from state government agencies, the
Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare. The Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
undertook the analysis and interpretation of the data in close consultation with
relevant government agencies.

The Baseline Report is complemented by the initial Implementation
Progress Report 2006
. The progress report details the most recent
achievements of the Queensland Government in addressing areas of Indigenous
disadvantage. It also outlines future activities to be undertaken across
government to strengthen policy, planning and service delivery to Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Child Guardian Key Outcome
Indicators

In 2006, the CCYP conducted extensive research and consultation to establish
an outcome-based method of assessing the effectiveness of the child safety
system. This resulted in the development of Child Guardian Key Outcomes and a
series of proposed measures that will be used when gathering and reporting
information about the child safety system.

One of these outcome indicators relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander children, and includes various measures in relation to the safety and
wellbeing of these children.

Indigenous Child Placement Principle
Project

The Commission for Children and Young People monitors the Department of Child
Safety’s compliance with the Indigenous Child Placement Principle set out
in s.83 of the Child Protection Act 1999.

Systemic recommendations

In 2006-07, the Commission for Children and Young People finalised systemic
recommendations related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. These
recommendations targeted information management and decision support mechanisms
in an effort to improve the available data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander children.

Murri Court Review

A review of the Murri Court was completed in 2006 and the majority of its
recommendations have been
implemented.[48] The review
confirmed that the Murri Court has been effective in providing practical access
to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders.

An independent evaluation is currently being undertaken by the Australian
Institute of Criminology (AIC), and the AIC is also working with Department of
Justice and Attorney-General to implement an effective evaluation database.

Research into legislative
instruments

The Queensland Government has commissioned research into:

  • the appropriateness of Domestic Violence Orders and the other relevant
    legislative instruments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,
    and recommendations for alternatives (this informed the evaluation of the 2003
    amendments to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989); and
  • causal factors for family violence in Torres Strait Islander communities and
    recommended Torres Strait Islander-specific responses.

Narrative Inquiry

Narrative inquiry is a method of gathering and analysing information from
community members through a ‘story telling.’ The Queensland
Government has trialled a narrative inquiry training package with departmental
staff and some funded non-government organisations that conduct prevention and
early intervention pilot programs, including:

  • Mununjali Housing and Development Company;
  • Darumbal Community Youth Service; and
  • Centacare, Mount Isa.

Narrative inquiry has been used effectively as an evaluation
strategy by all three of these programs. The Darumbal Community Youth Service
and Centacare have used the method to collect material for their Client Outcomes
Projects, which were part of the suite of evaluation techniques used to evaluate
the prevention and early intervention pilot programs.

d) Programs

Healing
approaches:

  • Queensland
    Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program (QIADP)
    ($2.9 million over three
    years): A voluntary 20-week rehabilitation program for Indigenous
    defendants charged with certain offences that relate to their use of alcohol;
    and for Indigenous parents involved in the child protection system who also have
    an alcohol problem.

    The criminal justice stream of the QIADP will operate as a bail-based
    diversionary program. The goal of the program is to break the alcohol-crime
    cycle by involving eligible Indigenous defendants in treatment and case
    management programs designed to reduce alcohol-related harm to the individual
    and the community.

    The family intervention stream of the QIADP will offer Indigenous parents
    the option of accessing culturally appropriate treatment for alcohol misuse if
    their alcohol misuse impacts on their ability to protect their children from
    harm.

    The three-year pilot program commenced in July 2007 in Cairns (with
    outreach to Yarrabah) has 32 treatment places; Townsville (with outreach to
    Palm Island) has 40 treatment places; and Rockhampton (with outreach to
    Woorabinda) has 32 treatment places.

  • Healing services ($1.5 million per
    annum): Six Indigenous healing services, which provide contemporary and
    traditional healing to people in Indigenous communities affected by violence.
    Healing services have been successfully established in Thursday Island,
    Pormpurraw, Injinoo, Rockhampton, Cunnamulla and the North West of Cape York.

Community Education and
Community Development:

  • Child Responsive Communities Project
    (Cherbourg)
    : A multi-agency initiative, based on the Crime and
    Misconduct Commission’s research on best practice to reduce child
    abuse.[49] The project aims to
    improve children’s knowledge about child sexual abuse; dispel the notion
    that child sexual abuse is a “normal” childhood experience; and
    improve the government response once abuse is disclosed.

    Project delivery will include school-based activities for primary
    school children, community-based education for adults, improvements to the
    responsiveness of the criminal justice system and improvements to community
    safety and therapeutic responses for children and their families.

    This project is currently in the scoping and development phase.

  • AFL Education Partnership:
    Education partnership with the Australian Football League (AFL) targeted at
    Indigenous youth. The partnership will use the existing 27 Kickstart football
    clinics, which are permanently staffed around Queensland remote Indigenous
    communities. The Government is currently developing ‘curriculum’
    that coaches could use to educate children about healthy relationships, and
    challenge community tolerance of domestic and family violence.
  • Domestic and Family Violence Prevention:
    In 2007, the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month
    campaign incorporated a focus on Indigenous men with the key message
    ‘every man must take a stand against domestic and family violence.’
    A radio advertising campaign aired on Indigenous radio stations throughout the
    month, and advertisements (including perpetrator help cards) were placed in
    restrooms and public bars and clubs across the state. The Government also
    provided $21,729 to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups
    throughout Queensland to hold events and activities to promote the prevention of
    domestic and family violence in Indigenous communities.
  • Be Strong Be Heard: The Be
    Strong Be Heard
    initiative was established to address prevailing
    non-reporting of sexual assault and mistreatment of Indigenous youth in Cape
    York and the Torres Strait.

Culturally appropriate
child protection services:

  • Department of Child Safety initiatives: Recent child
    protection initiatives include:
    • the creation of a new Gulf Child Safety Service Centre to provide
      culturally-focussed service delivery to the remote communities of North West
      Queensland;
    • scholarship awards to four Indigenous staff members to gain relevant
      qualifications for employment as Child Safety Officers;
    • sponsorship of 12 Indigenous cadets under the National Indigenous Cadetship
      Project;
    • recruitment of 228 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
      carers[50]; and
    • the allocation of $12.8 million in grant funding to extend coverage of
      Indigenous Recognised Entities across
      Queensland[51].
  • Residential care: Over the next four years, the Government will
    allocate $15.5 million in capital funding and $19.1 million in recurrent funding
    for residential care houses in Pormpuraaw, Kowanyama, Aurukun, Weipa/ Napranum
    and Doomadgee; a first placement house on Palm Island to provide a culturally
    appropriate place for Indigenous children and young people to stay while their
    needs are being assessed; and office and residential accommodation for child
    safety officers working in Indigenous communities.
  • Community
    Visitor Program (CVP):
    Makes regular visits to children in
    alternative care. Community visitors immediately report any identified harm to
    children and young people in out-of-home care to the Department of Child Safety
    and to the Queensland Police Service where the matter involves alleged criminal
    activity. Thirty per cent of serious issues identified by community visitors in
    2006 related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Programs
for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or abuse (including
juveniles):

  • Ending Family
    Violence Program
    : Cognitive behavioural program, which is delivered over 10
    two-hour sessions and responds to the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander people who have been convicted of offences related to violence
    within their family and/ or community.
  • Ending
    Offending Program
    : Cognitive behavioural program designed to modify the
    drinking and offending behaviour of Aboriginal offenders.
  • Crossroads
    and Back on track: Cognitive behavioural
    program for sex offenders to prevent re-offending. Indigenous cultural advisors
    attend groups and consult with program staff in order to acknowledge cultural
    context and inform on culturally sensitive issues. These programs are only
    available in the correctional environment.
  • Murri Court:
    Magistrates Courts that deals with adult and youth Indigenous offenders who
    plead guilty to offences and elect to appear before the Murri Court for
    sentence. The Murri Court provides a forum in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander Elders can become involved in identifying the causes of offending
    behaviour and appropriate options for offender rehabilitation. The emphasis is
    on imposing alternatives to custodial sentences that are equally or more
    effective in preventing a recurrence of offending behaviour.
  • Police-Citizen Youth Clubs (PCYCs)
    and Community Activity Program
    through Education (CAPE)
    : Operate in Indigenous communities
    throughout Queensland, including Wujal Wujal, Hope Vale, Yarrabah, Palm Island,
    Mornington Island and Napranum. The objective of these programs is to engage
    young people and divert them from the criminal justice system through
    recreational activities and support.

Community Justice
Groups:

  • Established in 1993 in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal
    Deaths in Custody and to deal more effectively with social justice issues
    regarding over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in
    the States criminal justice system. The Queensland Government currently funds 41
    Community Justice Groups across Queensland.

Safe
houses and services for women and children:

  • Safe
    Haven
    ($17.83 million): Joint Australian and Queensland
    Government[52] project being
    implemented in the communities of Cherbourg, Coen, Palm Island and Mornington
    Island. It is aimed at reducing the impact of domestic and family violence on
    children and young people.

    While the building is underway an interim service model has been developed
    for co-ordination and integration of interim services with existing services;
    community capacity building; night patrol service; family support/ parenting
    counselling service; youth engagement and support; and a family brokerage
    system.

  • Safe Houses: The 2007-08
    Queensland State Budget allocated $19.1 million operating and $15.5 million
    capital funding over four years to better protect Indigenous children in remote
    communities. This will include at least five ‘safe houses,’ which
    will provide accommodation for children who are within the child safety
    system.
  • Supported
    Accommodation Assistance Program:
    There are currently 13 crisis
    accommodation services in Queensland funded through the Supported Accommodation
    Assistance Program (SAAP). These services are specifically designed to assist
    Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women and their accompanying children who
    are homeless or at risk of homelessness. SAAP services are also referred to as
    ‘safe houses’.


Crime prevention programs:

  • Community Patrols: The Queensland Government provides
    funding support to community patrols in Townsville and Palm Island. In addition,
    Community Justice Groups throughout the state facilitate the delivery of crime
    prevention programs in their communities including night patrols, ‘Murri
    Watch’, youth camps, and outstations.
  • Youth and Community
    Combined Action (
    YACCA ) program: Provides recurrent
    funding of over $2 million per year to non-government organisations. YACCA is
    aimed at young people aged 12 to 25 who are at risk of offending and other
    high-risk behaviours. Three services located in Cherbourg, Brisbane and Palm
    Island specifically target Indigenous young people. The services provide a range
    of crime prevention activities to assist young people to play positive and
    responsible roles in their communities.

3) South Australia

In 2003, a child protection review was undertaken by Robyn Layton QC. The
report, A State plan to protect and advance the interests of
children
[53] devotes a
chapter to Indigenous children and young people.

The report makes eight Indigenous specific recommendations for better service
delivery, interagency cooperation and community education and community
development. It also recommends a human rights based approach to Indigenous
child protection:

Recommendation 31: That the principles contained in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) be reflected in all statutes
affecting Indigenous children and young people and form the underpinning
principle objectives driving legislation in this State. That the South
Australian Child Protection Board, when developing protocols and guidelines, has
regard to the three targets identified by UNICEF in its New Global Agenda for
Children (2000).[54]

In 2004 the South Australian government created the Commission of Inquiry
(Children in State Care and on APY Lands) to investigate:

allegations of failure on the part of government agencies, employees or
other relevant persons to investigate or appropriately deal with allegations
concerning sexual offences against children under the guardianship, custody,
care or control of the Minister responsible for the protection of children;
and to provide for a Commission of Inquiry into the incidence of sexual
offences against children resident on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara
lands.[55]

The Commission of Inquiry has heard from 1849 people and undertaken 783
hearings.[56] The Commission is
currently finalising its report which is expected to be submitted to parliament
in January 2008.

a) Policy Frameworks

South Australian Strategic Plan

The South Australian Government has an overarching South Australian Strategic
Plan (SASP). The SASP contains specific targets relating to Indigenous health
and well-being:

  • Aboriginal healthy life expectancy: Lower the morbidity and mortality
    rates of Aboriginal South Australians.
  • Aboriginal Leadership: Increase the number of South Australians
    participating in community leadership and in community leadership development
    programs.
  • Aboriginal housing: Reduce overcrowding in Aboriginal households by
    10% by 2014.
  • Aboriginal education: early years. Increase yearly the proportion of
    Aboriginal children reading at age appropriate levels at the end of year 1.
  • Aboriginal wellbeing: Improve the overall wellbeing of Aboriginal
    South Australians.
  • Aboriginal employees: Increase the participation of Aboriginal people
    in the South Australian public sector, spread across all classifications and
    agencies, to 2% by 2010 and maintain or better those levels through to 2014.

Further, the South Australian Government has drafted a State
Aboriginal Strategic Plan, which is due for release in 2007-08.

Keeping Them Safe In Our Care Action Plan

Keeping them Safe is the South Australian Government’s wide ranging
program to reform the State’s child protection systems and services. An
action has been identified to specifically address the needs of Indigenous young
people:

  • Getting it Right for Aboriginal Children and Young People: Giving a renewed
    priority and commitment to developing effective and culturally appropriate
    responses to the high numbers of Aboriginal children and young people in our
    care.

Service planning across government departments seeks to address
this as a state government priority.

Domestic Violence Statement of Commitment

The Justice Portfolio adopted the Domestic Violence Statement of Commitment
in September 2005. The Statement of Commitment recognises the key role of
Justice Portfolio agencies in responding to domestic violence including:

  • providing victims with access to justice and
    increasing their safety; and
  • intervening effectively with offenders to stop
    violence.

Women’s Safety Strategy

The Women’s Safety Strategy has specific reference to Indigenous women,
stating that responses to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
women will be informed by the principles detailed in the ‘Rekindling
Family Relationships – Framework for Action’.

Family Safety Framework

This is a Framework to drive the development of improved, integrated service
responses to violence against all women and children in South Australia. The
Framework outlines the process, procedures and policies that will enable
agencies to better support women, children and young people who are victims of
violence and abuse and people who use violence. The Framework incorporates an
agreement to share information between agencies and sets out the parameters for
the sharing of this information.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth of
Australia and the State of South Australia.

The Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth
of Australia and the State of South Australia
(also known as the
Bilateral Agreement on Service Delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders in South Australia
) was signed by the Prime Minister and the
Premier of South Australia on 17 April 2006. The five-year agreement aims to
enhance health and welfare of Indigenous South Australians.

The agreement is a response to issues identified in the Overcoming
Indigenous Disadvantage Report
. The agreement includes planned action in the
areas of 'safer communities; housing and infrastructure; health and education;
homelessness; economic development; land, environment and culture; and service
delivery'.

It is to enhance cooperation between the two governments in service delivery,
including through a streamlining of processes. The agreement is also designed to
reduce bureaucratic overlap and service duplication in Indigenous
communities.

COAG Family Violence Action Strategy

The Australian Government and South Australia participated in bilateral
negotiations throughout 2006-07 to identify initiatives to address violence and
child abuse in Indigenous communities as outlined in the COAG Action Strategy.
The majority of the discussions under the Action Strategy had not reached the
formal agreement stage by the end of 2006-07.

Law enforcement

Improved Policing in remote areas

The Australian Government initiated an audit of policing in remote areas. The
State Government participated in this initiative through SAPOL with an audit of
policing on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

The Australian Government has agreed to provide the
South Australian Government with capital funding for police infrastructure on
the APY Lands. The State has agreed to contribute to this by providing four
additional police officers for the APY Lands and a number of community liaison
positions, targeting family violence. The number of permanent police on the APY
Lands has now increased to twelve fully sworn officers compared to 2002 when the
Lands were policed by officers operating from Marla with the support of
Community Constables. In addition to the 12 officers, there are 10 Community
Constable positions across the Lands as well as 6 officers and 1 clerical
position based at Marla.

Sniffer Dogs and Strike Teams

South Australia is a party to the tri-state intelligence desk, based in Alice
Springs, which has been very successful in reducing the trafficking of petrol,
alcohol and drugs in the Central Australian desert region.

National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Task
Force

SA has provided two officers to the Task Force.

Protection for Victims

Ceduna and Coober Pedy Safe House Initiative

The Australian and State Governments have jointly funded the development and
implementation of a number of Safe Houses for Women and Children fleeing
violence in Ceduna and Coober Pedy. This initiative provides intensive case
management, accommodation and re-establishment services to women and children.

Commission of Inquiry into sexual abuse on the APY
Lands

The Australian Government has provided support to the State for the expansion
of the current Commission of Inquiry into Children in State Care. The expanded
Inquiry focuses on the sexual abuse of children on the APY Lands. The Inquiry
will hand down its report at the end of January 2007.

Health and Wellbeing of Children

Introduction of a family Support Worker in Yalata and Senior Social Workers
in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands to provide early
intervention for families.

Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation
Services

The South Australian and Australian Governments have entered into a joint
agreement for non residential rehabilitation drug and alcohol day centres in
Port Augusta, Coober Pedy and Ceduna.

Compulsory School Attendance

The South Australian Government has agreed to provide data on school
attendance to the Australian Government. This data will be provided down to the
school level (not individuals) to enable monitoring of attendance levels.

c) Monitoring and Evaluation

No monitoring or evaluation mechanisms were reported to the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

d) Programs

Community education and community development:

  • Rekindling Indigenous Family Relationships (RIFR) project in the
    Riverland
    : Funded through the Family Violence Partnership Program (FVPP)
    jointly between the Australian and State governments, it is aimed at increasing
    the capacity of Indigenous people to respond to, reduce and prevent family
    violence and child abuse, as well as link with a range of services.

    It includes a Community Enhancement Program and
    Family Wellbeing Program that provides participants with skills for effective
    communication and conflict resolution. The Family Well Being course is a
    Certificate II Course within TAFE Aboriginal Education and is a nationally
    accredited counselling skills course.

  • State Aboriginal Women’s Gathering and State Aboriginal Men’s
    Gathering:
    In 2006 a gathering with over 70 women representing
    communities from metropolitan, rural and remote South Australia coming together.
    The theme of the Gathering was ‘Indigenous Family Violence –
    Local Community Solutions
    ’. Delegates to the gathering were presented
    with a report, ‘A Two-Way Conversation: Aboriginal Women Talking,
    Government Listening
    ’, compiled by Office of Women (OfW). The report
    presents the SA Government’s response to recommendations made at the
    2002-2005 State Aboriginal Women’s Gatherings. A panel comprising
    Departmental heads from across Government joined the Gathering to respond to
    questions from the delegates as to how Government could further progress the
    recommendations.

    A similar State Aboriginal Men’s Gathering also occurred in
    December 2006 with a focus around men’s
    health.[57]

  • Child Safe Environments Training – tailored to community:
    Training by Families SA in partnership with a remote area Health Clinic in
    Pukatja to increase knowledge of the child protection system.

Culturally appropriate child protection services:

  • Taikurtinna Maltorendi (Families to remain together):
    Aboriginal-specific service providing support and access to services for
    Aboriginal families who receive a ‘Tier 3’ notification and who live
    in the north-west regions of Adelaide. Taikurtinna Maltorendi also provides a
    whole of family case management/ outreach home visiting service that aims to
    support families in a non-threatening, culturally accountable environment to
    improve the housing, educational, health and wellbeing outcomes for children at
    risk of becoming homeless.
  • Yaitya Tirramangkotti: Provides advice and assistance in cases
    involving the abuse of Aboriginal children. Staffed by Aboriginal people, Yaitya
    Tirramangkotti makes sure that everything is done to involve Aboriginal families
    and help them care for their children in ways that are culturally appropriate
    and consistent with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principles.
  • Principal Cultural Consultants: Indigenous positions that
    advise senior staff within the department of the management of critical cases
    and the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of this practice.
  • Murray Bridge Aboriginal Families Team: Provides holistic
    services and support to prevent families and young people entering the child
    protection, alternative care and youth justice system.
  • Davenport Community Protocols: As a pilot project, the Port
    Augusta District Centre, Families SA is partnering with the Davenport Community
    to develop protocols regarding best ways to approach and work with the community
    on issues relating to child protection and child/ young person safety within the
    community.
  • Port Augusta Aboriginal Families Team: Provides intensive case
    management for Aboriginal families who have multiple problems, and who have been
    involved with numerous human service agencies over a long period of time.
  • Kumangka Padnendi: Assists Aboriginal families to remain
    united, re-united or re-connected using a therapeutic approach. The therapeutic
    approach is two pronged, the first is the ‘Rapid Response’ that has
    the capacity to respond to Aboriginal people in crisis situations where children
    have been removed or are at risk of removal. The second is the sustained
    therapeutic response that focuses on the parents/ caregivers needs. Often the
    parents/ caregivers are themselves victims of past policies that lead to
    widespread removal and disruption to parenting practices.

Programs for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or
abuse (including juveniles):

  • Mary Street Adolescent Program: Provides counselling
    and help for adolescents (and their families) who have sexually offended. This
    is not an Indigenous specific service.
  • Aboriginal Mental Health Youth Partnership: Families SA and
    the Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have developed partnerships
    within the Secure Care setting at Cavan Training Centre, to provide support,
    counselling and mental health services to Aboriginal young people within the
    juvenile justice system.
  • Panyappi: Indigenous youth mentoring service for young people
    who experience multiple problems that lead them to frequent inner city or other
    suburban hangouts, placing them at risk of being a victim of crime or engaging
    in offending behaviour.
  • Kurlana Meyanna Karpandi (Supporting Youth): Service to target
    Aboriginal young people in the juvenile justice system - aged from 10 to 18
    years who are custody and are in need of suitable accommodation or placement
    after they return to the community. The program is designed to recruit, train
    and support Aboriginal carers to provide placements for young people in the
    Justice System.
  • Marni Wodli (Good House): Accommodation program funded
    primarily to provide culturally appropriate accommodation options and
    independent living skills to ‘at risk’ Aboriginal young people aged
    between 15 and 18 years.

Crime prevention programs:

  • Port Augusta Youth Support Services Bus: Collaborative
    program with partnerships between Families SA, Department of Justice and Port
    Augusta Council to provide transport for young people at risk of offending to go
    to safe places; and provide individual support and referral.

4) Western Australia

Western Australian initiatives to address Indigenous family
violence and child abuse have been framed in response to the Gordon Inquiry, one
of the most well known and largest inquiries into Indigenous communities.
Following the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of a 15 year old girl in
Swan Valley, the Western Australian Government formed a special inquiry headed
by Magistrate Sue Gordon to look at family violence and child abuse in all
Western Australian Aboriginal communities. The findings of this inquiry are
published in the report, Putting the Picture Together: Inquiry into Response
by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in
Aboriginal Communities.
[58]

Commenced in 2002, the Inquiry ran for six months and evidence and
information was obtained by the Inquiry through written submissions from
government, non-government agencies and individuals; documents and materials
provided by government agencies; consultation with Aboriginal communities,
government agencies, non-government agencies and to other facilities and
individuals; formal hearings; and relevant research materials.

The Gordon Inquiry found that:

  • family violence and child abuse occur in Aboriginal communities at a rate
    that is much higher than that of non-Aboriginal communities;
  • better responses are needed when family violence and child abuse occur;
  • the Government needs to provide a co-ordinated ‘connected’
    approach to service delivery that responds to each community’s need for
    integrated service provision; and
  • there is a need to increase the capacity of workers to be responsive to
    abuse and violence in Aboriginal communities and the needs of Aboriginal people.

The Gordon Inquiry made 197 findings and recommendations. It is
this Report that has shaped much of the policy development in Western Australia.
The recommendations can be grouped around 4 main themes:

  1. strengthening the response to child abuse and family violence;
  2. strengthening response to vulnerable children and adults at risk;
  3. strengthening the safety of communities; and
  4. strengthening the governance, confidence, economic capacity and
    sustainability of communities.

The Western Australian Government's response to the Gordon Inquiry,
Putting People First, was tabled in Parliament in December 2002. Further
government responses are outlined below.

a) Policy Frameworks

Gordon Action
Plan
[59]In November
2002, the Western Australian Government, in response to the Gordon Inquiry,
identified four key outcome areas to be addressed by the Gordon Action Plan.
They include:

  • timely responses to children identified as abused or significantly at risk
    of abuse and/ or neglect;
  • a reduction in family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal
    communities;
  • an increase in the percentage of people in Aboriginal communities who feel
    safe including children and youth; and
  • an increase in the percentage of Aboriginal people who are aware of and can
    access family violence and child abuse services.

The Gordon Action Plan comprised 125 initiatives with a budget of
$71 million over four years.

Operational Response to Child Abuse disclosures in the East
Kimberley

Between April and July 2007, there were a number of arrests and charges
following child abuse disclosures in Indigenous communities in the East
Kimberley.

On 23 July 2007, the Cabinet Standing Committee on Law and Order gave a
mandate to the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) to lead coordination of a
government response to the broader impacts on the community as a result of the
high number of disclosures. A Director’s General Group, established to
coordinate the response at the strategic level, has endorsed a model for agreed
whole-of-government action to address broad community issues arising from the
disclosure of child abuse.

The model will provide a phased approach consisting of the initial response
involving investigation and case management, the recovery phase involving
community healing and other strategies to support the broader community to
manage issues, and community building involving longer-term strategies, services
and processes to bring about safety and security of children.

The response model is underpinned by the Gordon Action Plan, which provides
the longer-term measures needed to reduce family violence and eliminate child
abuse.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Bilateral Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Western
Australian and Australian
Governments[60]

The Bilateral Agreement on Indigenous Affairs (the Agreement) between the
Western Australian and Australian Governments establishes an agreed framework
and priorities for intergovernmental cooperation and enhanced effort in
Indigenous Affairs.

The Agreement has six key outcome areas:

  • Law and Order and Safe Places for People;
  • Skills, Jobs and Opportunities;
  • Healthy and Strong People;
  • Sustainable Environmental Health and Infrastructure;
  • Land, Sea and Culture; and
  • Strong Leadership and Governance.

The Western Australian Government has now established a
Directors’ General Group supported by specific Senior Officers groups
under each outcome area to establish policy priorities for negotiation with the
Australian Government.

c) Monitoring & Evaluation

Gordon Action Plan

Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) has monitored and evaluated the
implementation status of the initiatives arising from the Gordon Action Plan. As
at 30 May 2007, the majority of initiatives have been implemented.

The outcomes of the Gordon Action Plan are being evaluated in three stages.
The first stage consists of:

  1. evaluation of collaboration between agencies and with the Aboriginal
    community at a strategic level;
  2. case studies of the impacts of initiatives and strategies at the community
    level;
  3. identification of the longer-term outcomes for the Gordon Action Plan;
    and
  4. how these can be measured and evaluated.

The first stage of the evaluation is currently in progress. A
number of separate Gordon Action Plan initiatives have already been evaluated by
the agencies responsible for these programs, including the Strong Families and
Child Protection Workers programs.

Part C of the Stage One evaluation of the Gordon Action Plan will identify
the longer-term outcomes and how these can be measured and evaluated. This will
include developing an outcomes framework and a set of indicators that will give
a clearer picture of what sorts of data will be required and useful in assessing
the achievement of Action Plan outcomes. Stage Two of the Gordon Action Plan
evaluation is scheduled for 2008.

d) Programs

Healing approaches:

  • Culturally appropriate Counselling and Support Services ($200,000
    specific Gordon Action Plan funding): Program to increase capacity to provide
    culturally appropriate counselling and support services by considering the
    feasibility of giving scholarships to Aboriginal and other persons for
    professional development in partnership with tertiary institutions; engaging
    with relevant agencies, bodies and people to foster the development and
    implementation of skills training and support for Aboriginal people; and
    evaluating the Derby Family Healing Centre to assess the benefits of
    whole-of-family ‘healing centre models’.

Community education and community development:

  • Protective Strategies program: The Department of Education and
    Training will introduce into the school curriculum the teaching of protective
    behaviour strategies to complement health and well being units.

Culturally appropriate child protection services:

  • Aboriginal Support Workers ($5.084m specific Gordon Action Plan
    funding over four years): Recruitment and support of fourteen skilled Aboriginal
    Support Workers (one per police district) to enhance the accessibility of and
    support services for children and youth exhibiting risk behaviour. The workers
    will be co-located within existing services that are accessed by Aboriginal
    children and young people.

Programs for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or
abuse:

  • Reasoning and Rehabilitation Program: A cognitive behavioural program
    that aims to reduce offending behaviour through group work. This is not an
    Indigenous specific program.
  • Sex offender program: All juvenile sex offenders in custody have the
    opportunity to engage in counselling to address their sexual offending. This is
    not an Indigenous specific program.
  • Community Supervision Agreements ($0.835m specific Gordon Action Plan
    funding over four years): Three Training and Liaison Officers are employed in
    the Pilbara, Kimberley and Goldfields to provide appropriate financial and
    logistical support and training to communities managing community supervision
    agreements. This is hoped to lead to an expansion in the number of community
    supervision agreements.

Safe Houses and services for women and children:

  • Safe Places-Safe People ($ 1.247m specific Gordon Action Plan funding
    over four years): Strategy that foster a systematic and coordinated approach to
    respond to child abuse. The program builds on and supports community
    initiatives, such as the Kids Helpline, to respond to the needs of children
    including:

    • Identification of ‘safe persons and places’ in Aboriginal
      communities where Aboriginal children can take themselves to if they are in
      need.
    • Expansion of work already being undertaken in seven rural and remote
      communities to develop community-managed responses and the identification of
      safe places for Aboriginal women threatened or subjected to violence.
    • Investigation of the feasibility of each ‘safe place’ having
      access to a restricted phone with free provision to call emergency numbers such
      as police, crisis care, and Kids Help Line.

Crime Prevention programs:

  • Aboriginal Community Patrols: The Department of Indigenous
    Affairs funds 17 service providers to deliver 19 patrols throughout metropolitan
    and regional Western Australia. The patrols assist Indigenous people at risk of
    self harm; family and community violence; homelessness; and substance abuse and
    misuse.

5) Victoria

The Victorian Government established an independent Victorian Indigenous
Family Violence Task Force in 2001 to lead the development of an Indigenous
family violence strategy for the State. Their report, Indigenous Family
Violence Taskforce Report
(2003)
[61] is the key
research document on the status of Indigenous family violence in Victoria,
having undertaken in-depth community consultations at a local, regional and
state-wide level.

The Report finds that one in three Indigenous people are the victim, have a
relative who is a victim or witness an act of violence on a daily basis in
Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

Data provided to the Task Force by Victoria Police indicates that an
Indigenous person in Victoria is more than eight times more likely to be a
victim of family violence than a non-Indigenous person. Data collected across
the same time frame confirmed that 2.9% of Victoria’s Indigenous community
were victims of family violence compared with 0.55% for non-Indigenous
people.

The report found that Aboriginal children are the subject of substantiated
child abuse at more than seven times the rate for non-Aboriginal children and
there had been a 38.7% increase in Indigenous child protection investigations
with parental domestic violence characteristics between 1998-99 and 2002-03.
Substantiated incidents had also increased by 52.7% in this same time period.

The Report made 28 formal recommendations to the Victorian Government along
with the provision of an Action Plan to be considered by members of the
Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum and the Indigenous Family Violence
Working Group when preparing the ‘whole of government’ response for
input into the Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Strategy.

The Victorian Government prepared a Formal Response to the Victorian
Indigenous Family Violence Task Force Final Report, as well as the recommended
Indigenous Family Violence Strategy, discussed below.

a) Policy Frameworks

Indigenous Family Violence Strategy

The Indigenous Family Violence Strategy is the Victorian Government’s
response to the Indigenous Family Violence Taskforce Report (2003), [62] together with the Victorian
Government Response to the Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Task Force Final
Report
(2004). [63] In 2002-03
$7.6 million was allocated over four years to support the development and
implementation of the Indigenous Family Violence Strategy.

The long-term response to Indigenous family violence is an
Indigenous-Government partnership to develop a ten-year plan to prevent and
eliminate Indigenous family violence. This partnership is led by the Indigenous
Family Violence Partnership Forum, which comprises senior Government
representation and Indigenous community leadership through the Indigenous Family
Violence Regional Action Groups and Indigenous service providers.

Indigenous Regional Action Groups build the leadership and capacity of
Indigenous communities to prevent and respond to family violence. Regional
Action Groups have been empowered to become effective decision-making bodies on
strategies to address family violence issues at the local level. Training
incorporating knowledge building and skills development has been provided to
members so they fulfil their leadership role.

A Fairer Victoria

In 2005, A Fairer Victoria reinforced the Government’s
commitment to improving the lives of all Victorians, including Indigenous
Victorians. It led to a new policy of working with Indigenous people, Building a New Partnership with Indigenous Victorians. [64] This commitment underpinned the
development of the Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework (VIAF).

Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework

The VIAF contains six Strategic Areas for Action:

  1. improve maternal health and early childhood health and development;
  2. improve literacy and numeracy;
  3. improve year 12 completion or equivalent qualification and develop pathways
    to employment;
  4. prevent family violence and improve justice outcomes;
  5. improve economic development, settle native title claims and address land
    access issues; and
  6. build Indigenous capacity.

To ensure that there is coordination of effort, and to provide
whole of government leadership, the Government established a Ministerial
Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs to direct implementation of the VIAF.

Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs

The Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs (MTAA) drives action and
provides whole-of-government direction on the VIAF. It has a continuing focus on
outcomes for children and young people.

Aboriginal Justice Agreement

The first phase of the Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Justice
Agreement (AJA)
, [65]launched in
2000 by the Department of Justice, was a formal agreement between Government and
elected members of the Indigenous community. The Aboriginal Justice
Agreement
’s objectives are crime prevention and early intervention;
strengthening alternatives to imprisonment; reducing re-offending; reducing
victimisation; building responsive and inclusive services and strengthening
community justice responses.

Launched in 2006, the second phase of the Aboriginal Justice
Agreement
[66] includes a
commitment to:

  • further develop a shared vision and agreed priorities for action within
    government and community sectors;
  • empowering local Indigenous communities to become involved in justice policy
    planning and service delivery; and
  • further develop stronger and more sustainable approaches to tackling the
    many issues associated with over-representation of Indigenous people in the
    Victorian justice system.

An additional $26 million was provided by the Victorian Government
in the 2006-07 Budget to progress Phase 2 and to strengthen the effort in
reducing over-representation.

Aboriginal Justice Forum

Under the AJA, the Aboriginal Justice Forum was established to forge and
sustain key justice partnerships at the local, regional and state-wide levels.
The foundations are the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees.

The Aboriginal Justice Forum and Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory
Committees have been successful in enabling the Indigenous community and the
Government to jointly set policy direction and monitor all AJA-related
activities. This partnership has been enhanced through the establishment of
Local Justice Action Committees in 2006-07. Local committees enable local
Indigenous communities to work closely with justice agencies to devise local
solutions to justice issues.

The Aboriginal Services Plan 2008-2010

The Aboriginal Services Plan 2008-2010 outlines commitments by the
Department of Human Services (DHS) to improve outcomes for Indigenous people.

A Way Forward - Violence Against Women Strategy

This Strategy provides Victoria Police with a platform for development of
initiatives and its key role in system-wide family violence and sexual assault
reforms. Ongoing strategies include Indigenous specific initiatives.

Integrated Family Violence Service Reform Framework

The Victorian Government’s Integrated Family Violence Service reforms
initiated a new approach to family violence in Victoria. The broad reforms were
supported by $35.1 million over four years in the 2005-06 Budget.

All agencies, including human services, police and justice services are
required to work together to provide co-ordinated responses at the local level.
Improving access to services for Indigenous Victorians is one of the family
violence reform priorities. Regional Integrated Family Violence Committees which
have been established throughout Victoria can address Indigenous access issues.
These committees are responsible for driving and monitoring implementation of
the new approach to family violence at a regional level and include
representatives from Indigenous organisations.

In 2004 Victoria Police introduced the Code of Practice for the
Investigation of Family Violence
which details that police must respond to
all incidents of family violence, emphasising the safety and support of victims.
The code recognises the unique nature of family violence in Indigenous
communities.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

No state and Australian Government joint initiatives were reported to the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

c) Monitoring and Evaluation

Victorian Indigenous Affairs Framework

Each of the six Strategic Action Areas contained in the Victorian Indigenous
Affairs Framework (VIAF) includes change indicators that will measure the
Government’s progress in reducing Indigenous disadvantage. Achieving
improvements in the change indicators in each of the Strategic Action Areas is
the basis for improving outcomes. These indicators provide a way to measure
progress in achieving the priority outcomes of the VIAF.

Aboriginal Services Plan Key Indicators Report

The Department of Human Services is closely monitoring the number of reports
of child abuse and neglect that it receives. The department will report on its
progress against a range of measures including child protection reports,
substantiations and re-substantiations through the annual Aboriginal Services
Plan Key Indicators Report
.

d) Programs

Culturally appropriate child protection services:

  • Aboriginal Child Specialist Advice and Support Service (ACSASS): Provided by VACCA[67] and
    Mildura Aboriginal Corporation, ACSASS work closely with the Department of Human
    Services to provide consultation, advice and information to Child Protection
    workers on all reports and significant actions and decisions regarding
    Indigenous children.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Decision Making Program: Every region now has funds to enable local Aboriginal community controlled
    organisations to appoint community conveners as part of the Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander Family Decision Making Program. This program enables
    extended family and respected Elders to participate in decision-making and case
    planning about the safety, stability and development of Indigenous children
    within the child protection system.
  • Aboriginal Family Preservation and Restoration programs: Prevents the
    placement or enable the return home of Indigenous children by improving safety
    and care standards within the family. Aboriginal Family Preservation works
    intensively with families in their own home while Family Restoration offers the
    additional resource of a residential facility for the whole family.
  • The Indigenous - Family Services (Innovations Programs): Since 2001
    resources have been increased to the Indigenous family services sector for the
    delivery of services to Indigenous children and families. Services focus on
    those families who have been identified to child protection services.
  • Capacity Building: As part of the implementation of the new child and
    family legislation an additional $1.4 million was committed in November 2006 to
    assist Indigenous community controlled organisations build their capacity to
    deliver a range of child and family welfare services.
  • Child FIRST: Initiative for all children and families in need of
    support and guidance. It ensures they receive supports earlier both through
    improved early years services that engage more effectively with vulnerable
    Indigenous families and through Child FIRST linking families into local family
    services. Capacity also now exists to provide longer-term support for
    particularly vulnerable families where required.

Community education and community development:

  • Indigenous Family Violence Strategy Community initiative
    Fund:
    Annual grants under the Community Initiative Fund complement the
    Regional Action Groups. The Fund supports the implementation of community-based
    projects that raise awareness of and responses to family violence. In 2006-07,
    33 local projects were funded.
  • Mildura Family Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign: [68] Victoria Police and the
    Indigenous community in Mildura have developed a media campaign to prevent
    family violence by highlighting the impact of violence on community members.
    Strong relationships between Indigenous leaders and Victoria Police have been
    forged through the project.
  • Lake Tyers Community Renewal Program: A holistic approach to
    reduce Indigenous disadvantage based on long term and sustained community
    renewal strategies. The program has reduced police call-outs from an average of
    25 per month (for the three months before the intervention) to an average of
    1.25 call-outs for the first four months of the 2007 calendar year.

Healing Approaches:

  • Healing Services and Time Out ($1.6 million per annum from ??
    to ??): Four Indigenous Healing Services will provide a holistic approach to
    addressing family violence in Indigenous communities. The Healing services are
    to be based in Loddon Mallee South, East Gippsland, North & West
    Metropolitan and Eastern Metropolitan Regions.

    Four Indigenous Time Out services will refer Indigenous people who
    use violence against family members to a place to access support to help them
    manage their violent behaviour. The Time Out services are in Loddon Mallee
    North, Hume, East Gippsland and North & West Metropolitan Regions.These
    services are currently being developed.

    The Victorian Government has allocated $1.6 million per annum and the
    Australian Government has allocated capital funding of $2.8million for two
    Healing and two Time Out centres in rural Victoria.

  • More appropriate access to Court: Indigenous outreach support
    is a part of the courts reforms associated with establishing the Family Violence
    Court Division of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria at Ballarat and
    Heidelberg

Programs for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or
abuse (including juveniles):

  • The Koori Youth Intensive Bail Support Program: Aims to reduce the
    number of young Indigenous people detained prior to sentencing. The program
    provides intensive outreach support to assist young people comply with bail
    conditions or conditions placed on deferred sentences.
  • Koori Courts: Adult and children’s Koori Courts have been
    implemented across Victoria, achieving reduced re-offending. This is in addition
    to the Aboriginal Liaison Officer Program and cultural awareness training for
    court staff and Magistrates in the mainstream courts system.
  • The Koori Pre and Post Release Services Programs: Provides post
    release, intensive cultural support to young Indigenous people to help reduce
    the likelihood of non-compliance with post-custodial orders. Cultural programs
    also operate in Custodial Centres that increase the knowledge and engagement of
    young Indigenous people with their culture.
  • The Koori Youth Justice Program: Established in 1992 and has expanded
    over the years to all Department of Human Services regions. In 2006-07 there
    were 16 community workers, three custodial workers (one in each custodial
    centre) and a central program adviser. The role of the Koori Youth Justice
    workers, based mainly in Indigenous Co-operatives, is both preventative and
    responsive. Clients include young people who are the subject of orders from the
    criminal division of the Children’s Court, young adults in the dual track
    system, young Indigenous people who are at risk of offending and those who have
    committed minor offences and received Police diversion or caution.
  • The Marumali program: This program assists individuals to heal and
    manage the distress and trauma of dealing with the intergenerational impacts on
    prisoners of the Stolen Generations.
  • The Koori Cognitive Skills Program: Cognitive behavioural program for
    Indigenous offenders.

Early intervention and well being:

  • Koori Maternity Strategy: Delivered through the Koori Maternity
    Program in 11 Aboriginal community controlled Health Services. Indigenous
    maternity health workers are also employed to work with clinical staff at the
    Co-operative and/ or the local hospital.
  • The In-Home Support for Aboriginal Families
    Initiative:
    [69] Support
    to improve the health, development, learning and well-being of Indigenous
    children 0-3 years. It also aims to strengthen support and improve parenting
    capacity for Indigenous parents and their families that is respectful of their
    cultural identity.
  • Best Start[70]: Early childhood prevention and early intervention initiative that aims to
    improve the health, development, learning and well-being of all children between
    the ages of 0-8 years across Victoria, from pregnancy through to transition to
    school. Of the 30 Best Start sites, six are Indigenous specific.
  • Maternal and Child Health Service: Universal access and participation
    for all children from birth to school age. Maternal and child health nurses play
    an important role in linking Indigenous children with the Koori Early Childhood
    Education Program workers and/ or local early childhood activities including
    playgroups and kindergartens. For higher-need Indigenous mothers, an
    ‘in-home support’ service is now being introduced in areas building
    on the Koori Maternity Strategy and extending support over the first
    three years.

6) Tasmania

The Tasmanian response to family violence has been informed by the major
report, ya pulingina kani - Good to see you
talk
[71] (2002). This project was part of the Indigenous Family Violence Project and was
conducted jointly by the Tasmanian Office of Aboriginal Affairs and Women
Tasmania, Department of Premier and Cabinet and funded by Partnerships Against
Domestic Violence.

The report was based on extensive state-wide consultations. The project team
spoke with over one hundred and fifty people formally and informally. The result
is a narrative told by Aboriginal people about Aboriginal family violence in
Tasmania.

Four recommendations that were made in the ya pulingina kani report:

  1. Reciprocity: An ongoing role for the individuals who contributed to
    the report in advising government on Indigenous family violence matters with the
    Tasmanian government accepting reciprocal responsibility for the healing that
    lies ahead for Tasmanian Aborigines.
  2. Healing: That Aboriginal people be trained in community grief and
    healing work. This healing process will then promote the continuation of the
    story telling that has been started in this compilation of this report. Those
    who have been trained can then go on and train others in the community in this
    healing work.
  3. Partnership: That the Government will honour its policy of working in
    partnership with the community.
  4. Art, Performance and Culture: That the Government fund Aboriginal
    writers, artists and performers to collaborate and bring the stories of ya
    pulingina kani
    to life through state wide performances.

The ya pulingina kani report also helped inform the
development of the Safe at Home initiative outlined below.

a) Policy Frameworks

Safe at Home

Enacted in 2005, Safe at Home is the Tasmanian government’s
criminal justice response to family violence. It is a mainstream initiative
delivered through an integrated service delivery system designed to manage the
safety of adult and child victims and also change the behaviour of offenders.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

COAG Trial

The COAG trial site in the north-eastern region of Tasmania (covering
Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, Break O’Day and Flinders
local government areas), was formed in part by the Indigenous Family Violence
Project Tasmania, which produced the ya pulingina kani Report. Further
groundwork for the trial began in July 2003 in a collaborative process involving
members of the Aboriginal community, governments and project workers.

The COAG trial process has generated a number of positive outcomes
including:

  • improved collaborative relationships between the Australian Government,
    Tasmanian Government and the Aboriginal community;
  • identification of a number of priority areas for potential action; and
  • implementation of, for example, an Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Course
    delivered through TAFE Tasmania, a program based around community cohesion and
    well being for Cape Barren Island, and the appointment of an Aboriginal case
    worker based at Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

The COAG trial in Tasmania has now been evaluated and, following on
from the Australian Government’s announcement in February 2007, the trials
will evolve onto a more mainstream footing. There remains a commitment from all
parties to continue working together under the COAG arrangements to further
scope and progress priority areas for action. This will also build on the work
of the Inter-governmental Family Violence summit held in July 2006 following
which COAG reaffirmed its commitment to the National Framework on Indigenous
Family Violence and Child Protection.

Following discussions by the Inter-governmental Coordinating Committee, the
trial’s Lead Agency Forum has now agreed to:

  • broaden the focus on Aboriginal family violence in the trial site to the
    whole of Tasmania; and
  • establish a new governance structure to guide further scoping and
    implementation in agreed priority areas for action.

Continued direct engagement with the Aboriginal community, as
partners, will remain a priority as the initiative continues into
implementation.

c) Monitoring and evaluation

No monitoring or evaluation mechanisms were reported to the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

d) Programs

Safe at Home

Although Safe at Home is a mainstream initiative, it has a significant
focus on cultural appropriateness. The ya pulingina kani Working Group
was established to advise Government on Aboriginal family violence issues and
acts as a reference group for Safe at Home. The group arose from the ya pulingina kani (Good to See You Talk) Report that was commissioned by
the Tasmanian Government in 2002.

7) Australian Capital
Territory

a) Policy Frameworks

ACT Children's Plan 2004-2014

The ACT Children's Plan is a ten-year plan to guide decisions by the
government and non-government sectors about policies, programs and service for
children up to 12 years of age. It includes commitments around prevention and
early intervention, education and coordination of services. Of the seven key
commitments one specifically relates to working in partnership with Indigenous
communities.

ACT Aboriginal Health Forum and ‘A New Way’

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Forum was formed under the
National Framework Agreement and is the primary strategic planning body for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in the ACT. It consists of three
forum partners:

  • Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing;
  • ACT Health ; and
  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

Additional Forum representation comprises:

  • Queanbeyan Indigenous Coordination Centre;
  • ACT Division of General Practice; and
  • Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The Forum meets up to six times a year and is specifically
responsible for the implementation of ‘A New Way’: The ACT
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing Plan 2006-2011
.
This Plan represents an ACT government/ non-government health service provider
response to the requirement of the NSFATSIH that each jurisdiction develop a
local Implementation Plan.

‘A New Way’ contains five priority areas:

  1. building family resilience;
  2. maternal and child health;
  3. social health, including mental health and substance abuse;
  4. chronic and infectious disease prevention and management; and
  5. frail aged and people with disabilities.

Cultural Respect Implementation Plan 2006-2009 - ACT
Health

The Cultural Respect Implementation Plan was developed in response to the
national Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Health 2004-2009 endorsed by the Australian Health Minister's Advisory Council
(AHMAC). The Cultural Respect framework is designed to guide ACT Health in
ensuring that the services they provide are culturally safe for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Bi-lateral Agreement on Indigenous Affairs - between Australian Capital
Territory (ACT) Government - Department of Disability Housing and Community
Services (DHCS) - and the Australian Government

The ACT has not yet finalised this bi-lateral agreement with the Australian
Government. Key projects currently under consideration or being implemented in
the ACT include an Indigenous specific alcohol and drug rehabilitation program,
an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body and a seamless and
integrated service delivery system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
children and young people.

Bi-lateral agreement – Department of Education and Training
(DET)

There is a bi-lateral agreement with the Australian Government Department of
Education, Science and Training to implement strategies to achieve the
priorities for Indigenous education of the Ministerial Council on Education,
Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). This agreement is for a
four-year period and achievement is reported annually to the Australian
government in its Supplementary Recurrent Assistance Performance Report on
Indigenous Education.

c) Monitoring & Evaluation

Taskforce on Indigenous Affairs

Established early 2007 as a joint initiative to bring together the relevant
ACT Government Chief Executives to coordinate;

  • the ACT Government's Indigenous policies and programs; and
  • to report to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on directions and
    priorities.

The terms of reference were recently amended to emphasise actions
to improve outcomes for ‘children’ and ‘young people’.
The Taskforce provides bi-monthly reports to the Minister.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group

Joint government and community group that considers service delivery issues
relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Aboriginal Health Impact Statements

An outcome identified from the ACT Health Cultural Respect Implementation
Plan 2006-2009. Provides a mechanism to ensure that mainstream health services
are responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACT jurisdictional reports

ACT jurisdictional reports, prepared by the ACT Aboriginal Justice Centre
(AJC) for the National Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (NAJAC), provides
comprehensive information on a range of Indigenous justice matters. The reports
contain information supplied from a range of ACT agencies. Development of these
reports is supported by the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance
Framework

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework (HPF)
is designed to measure the impact of the NSFATSIH and inform policy analysis,
planning and program implementation. The HPF has approximately 70 measures in
three groups:

  • health status and outcomes;
  • determinants of health including socio-economic and behavioural factors;
    and
  • health system performance.

As signatories to these documents, ACT Health continues to monitor
and report quarterly against agreed priorities that refer to, and recommend, "the protection of children from abuse and violence, including sexual abuse" and responses to alcohol, smoking, substance and drug misuse.

d) Programs

Culturally appropriate child protection
services:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services Unit: Discrete functional unit within the Office for Children, Youth and Family
    Support (OCYFS), Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services that
    gives a strong focus to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and to work
    towards addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander children and young people in the care and protection and community
    youth justice systems.
  • Indigenous Integrated Service Delivery Project: Targets at risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with young
    children. Over the next twelve (12) months the Project will develop and foster
    an integrated approach to service delivery across identified Government,
    education and family support services to at risk Aboriginal families.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kinship and
    Foster Care Service:
    By the end of 2006-07, the number of families
    registered with the service has grown to 14, with a further 10 families
    undergoing the training, assessment and registration process.
  • Community-Based Indigenous Family Support Services:
    Two workers provided in partnership with Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal
    Corporation, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service and the Office for
    Children, Youth and Family Support; and the Jumby Mulla Program in a contract
    with the Billabong Aboriginal Corporation.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Plans: Following amendments to the Children and Young People Act 1999 (ACT),
    in 2006-07, decision-makers in the ACT must now take into account any cultural
    plan in place when making a decision to place an Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander child or young person in out-of-home care.
  • Integrated Family Support Project: Joint initiative
    between government and non-government agencies in the ACT, targeting at risk
    children in vulnerable families. It aims to try and divert families away from
    the care and protection system and to prevent re-reporting. Under this project,
    participating agencies will be working with up to 10 vulnerable families.
    Although this is a mainstream project, at least two of the families will be
    Indigenous.

Programs for Indigenous offenders who
perpetrate violence or abuse (including juveniles):

  • ACT Aboriginal Justice Centre: Provides assistance
    to individuals within the criminal justice system to prevent further offending.
    The Aboriginal Justice Centre also has an advocacy role and is establishing
    partnerships and better service coordination between related
    agencies.

Safe houses and services for women and
children:

  • Indigenous Supported Accommodation Service (ISAS):
    C
    risis and transitional supported accommodation to Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. ISAS also
    provides outreach support to families in a case management framework and
    specialist children's case management. The service is funded to provide six
    families with accommodation and support in six separate houses.

    Both Inanna and Raja, who are mainstream
    services with a proven record of providing culturally appropriate services to
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, will provide the interim ISAS
    service until an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisation
    is able to provide the service.

Early intervention and well being:

  • Koori Preschool Program: Provides opportunities for
    Indigenous children to be enrolled in preschool from 0-5 years of age.
  • Winnunga Nimmitviah Aboriginal Health Service: Provides a range of services including the Aboriginal Midwifery Access
    Program; Aboriginal Hearing Screening Program; Aboriginal Dental Program; Youth
    Detoxification Support Service; and Dual Diagnosis Program.

8)
Northern Territory

Major Australian Government and Territory policy shifts in relation to
Indigenous family violence and child abuse have been prompted by the Ampe
Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle (Little Children Are Sacred)
report.[72] In August 2006 the
Northern Territory government established the Board of Inquiry into the
Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse
, chaired by Pat Anderson
and Rex Wild QC.

The terms of reference for the Inquiry were to study how and why Indigenous
children were being abused, with the focus being on unreported cases of abuse;
to identify any problems in the way government responds to and attempts to
protect Indigenous children from abuse; to look at way in which government
departments can better work together to protect and assist children; and to look
at how education pertaining to child sexual abuse can be brought to Indigenous
communities.

The inquiry travelled all over the Northern Territory holding more than 260
meetings with individuals, agencies and organizations, and visiting 45
communities to talk with Aboriginal people. The Inquiry also received 65 written
submissions. The Board of Inquiry was also assisted by an Expert Reference
Group.

Underlying the Inquiry’s findings was the common view that sexual abuse
of Indigenous children is happening largely because of the breakdown of
Indigenous culture and society. Other important points made by the Inquiry
included:

  • child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities is serious, widespread and
    often unreported;
  • most Indigenous people are willing and committed to solving problems and
    helping their children. They are also eager to better educate themselves;
  • Indigenous people are not the only victims and not the only perpetrators of
    sexual abuse upon their children, with a number of case reported where
    non-Indigenous perpetrators were abusing and exploiting Indigenous children;
  • much of the violence and sexual abuse occurring in Territory communities is
    a reflection of past, current and continuing social problems which have
    developed over many decades;
  • the combined effects of poor health, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment,
    gambling, pornography, poor education and housing, and a general loss of
    identity and control have contributed to violence and to sexual abuse in many
    forms;
  • existing government programs to help Indigenous people break the cycle of
    poverty and violence need to be improved and achieve better outcomes. There is
    not enough coordination and communication between government departments and
    agencies, and this is causing a breakdown in services and poor crisis
    intervention;
  • improvements in health and social services are desperately needed to address
    the break down of communities; and
  • programs need to have enough funds and resources and be a long-term
    commitment.

The Inquiry found that child sexual abuse is a complex and
deep-seated problem that requires urgent and dedicated action from the entire
community in a collaborative manner. The Board made 97 recommendations for
action that included:

  • the empowerment of Indigenous communities to enable them to take more
    control and make decisions about their future;
  • the provision of education campaigns on child sexual abuse and how to stop
    it, through the implementation of mandatory reporting amongst other things;
  • the improvement of school attendance;
  • the reduction of alcohol consumption in Aboriginal communities;
  • the building of greater trust between Government departments, the police and
    Aboriginal communities;
  • the strengthening of family support services; and
  • the appointment of a Commissioner for Children and Young people who would be
    a senior, independent person who can focus on the interests and wellbeing of
    children and young people, review issues and report to Parliament.

The Board of Inquiry submitted their report to the Chief Minister
on 30 April 2007.

The Commonwealth Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs launched the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention in response on 21
June 2007 and the Chief Minister for The Northern Territory Government responded
with the ‘Closing the Gap of Indigenous Disadvantage’ policy on 20
August 2007.

a) Policy Frameworks

Closing the Gap of Indigenous Disadvantage –
Generational Plan of
Action
[73]

The Northern Territory Government supported the messages and recommendations
of the Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse
(Little Children are Sacred Report)
. Closing the Gap of Indigenous
Disadvantage,
the official Northern Territory Government response to the
Inquiry, was released in August 2007.

Closing the Gap commits to a twenty year generational commitment to
overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. The vision of the plan is that:

by 2030, Indigenous children born in the Northern Territory will be as
healthy and live as long as other Territorians. They will have the opportunity
to participate fully in the social and economic life of the Territory, while
having a strong cultural
identity.[74]

Closing the Gap addresses additional areas of legislative reform,
governance, employment and economic development, remote area policing, health,
housing, communication and engagement that go beyond the recommendations
contained in Little Children Are Sacred. The response establishes a
comprehensive framework for the implementation of a long-term generational
approach and for negotiating responsibilities with the Australian Government,
and with communities through local community boards.

The response addresses each of the 97 recommendations made in Little
Children Are Sacred
in Appendix 1 of Closing the
Gap
.[75] There are seven action
areas:

  1. safety;
  2. health;
  3. housing;
  4. education;
  5. jobs;
  6. culture; and
  7. a better way of doing business.

Each area is designated a plan of action and in many instances
additional budgetary funding is committed within the plan itself. The Northern
Territory Government has committed $286.43 million towards 5 year actions to
implement the plan which will be spent on:

  • $79.36 million for child protection;
  • $38.61 million to implement the Remote Area Policing Strategy, community
    justice and other safety measures;
  • $10.11 million for alcohol and drug management;
  • $23.4 million to achieve better health outcomes;
  • $42.32 million for housing in Indigenous communities;
  • $70.68 million towards education;
  • $13 million to improve Indigenous employment and economic development;
    and
  • $8.95 million towards better cross-cultural understanding and engagement in
    service delivery.

Building Safer Communities

Building Safer Communities (BSC) is the Northern Territory
Government’s framework for crime prevention and community safety. The
building blocks of the framework are:

  • children and young people;
  • protecting your home and business – preventing property crime;
  • preventing violence – protecting Territorians;
  • two way justice – engaging Aboriginal culture and communities;
  • tackling substance abuse; and
  • targeting punishment and preventing (re)offending.

Building Healthier Communities

The Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS) have identified the
following objectives for their framework ‘Building Healthier
Communities
’ 2004-2009:

  • giving kids a good start in life;
  • strengthening families and communities;
  • getting serious about Aboriginal health;
  • creating better pathways to health services;
  • filling service gaps; and
  • tackling substance abuse.

Indigenous Education Strategic Plan

The Indigenous Education Strategic Plan outlines the six action areas and 12
priorities that the Department of Education will implement to build a strong,
relevant education system that delivers results for Indigenous Territorians. The
aim of the Indigenous Education Strategic Plan is to support young Indigenous
Territorians to:

  • value school;
  • come to school;
  • learn and achieve to their full potential;
  • stay at school for 12 years of schooling; and
  • successfully make the transition into employment, apprenticeships and
    traineeships, training or higher education.

The plan calls for strong partnerships between Indigenous parents,
students, and the local school.

Domestic and Family Violence Strategy

The Northern Territory Government’s Domestic Violence
Strategy
is designed to address issues of importance to all Territorians.
The Domestic and Aboriginal Family Violence strategies (2003-2007) focus on
issues of importance to Indigenous people, especially those living in remote and
isolated localities. The strategies take a coordinated, multi-faceted,
whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to addressing domestic and
family violence.

The Domestic and Family Violence Advisory Council is charged with providing
high level and independent advice to Government on implementation of the
Domestic and Family Violence Strategies, particularly in relation to regional
and community issues. The Council reports directly to the Minister for Family
and Community Services.

b) State and Australian Government Joint Initiatives

Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs

The Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory signed
the Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth of
Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia 2005-2010
(the Agreement)
in April 2005. The Agreement sets out a collaborative approach by the Northern
Territory and Australian Governments to working with Indigenous communities to
improve government service delivery and achieve better outcomes for Indigenous
people in the Northern Territory.

Bi-lateral schedules are being progressively attached to the Agreement to set
out how the governments will work together. The first three schedules
Sustainable Indigenous Housing’, ‘Strengthening and
Sustaining the Indigenous Arts Sector
’ and ‘Regional Authorities’ were attached at the signing of the Agreement. Two
additional schedules ‘Boosting Indigenous Employment and Economic
Development
’ and ‘Healthy Country, Healthy People
were formally attached to the Agreement in March 2006 and September 2006
respectively.

Northern Territory and Australian Government agencies are working on
potential future schedules in the areas of: Safer families and children;
Indigenous education and training; Indigenous child health and wellbeing;
Indigenous youth; and strategic interventions in priority communities.

COAG Family Violence Action Strategy

The Australian and Northern Territory Governments are currently negotiating a
series of actions in relation to the National Inter-governmental Summit on
Violence and Child Abuse in Indigenous Communities.

Measures discussed and agreed to in 2006-2007 include funding for remote
policing and drug detection dogs, joint action on the National Indigenous
Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Taskforce, additional alcohol and drug
treatment services and funding for the provision of safe houses.

Health

The main outcome of the June 2006 summit was an Australian Government
commitment to an extra $15.9 million over four years for the NT for alcohol
treatment and rehabilitation services.

The Northern Territory considered priority areas within the alcohol and other
drug areas by building on its significant initiatives in reforming legislation
and in developing new services. As a result, the Northern Territory Government
was the first jurisdiction to identify priorities, and in April 2007 provided
details to the Australian Government on the NT’s matching effort in the
alcohol and other drug treatment area.

Unfortunately, no formal agreement has been signed yet. When funding is
allocated it will be used across five key priority areas:

  • support to the remote alcohol and other drug outreach workforce;
  • rehabilitation and treatment services - Youth volatile substance abuse
    treatment services;
  • rehabilitation and treatment services - Nhulunbuy Special Care Centre;
  • Sobering Up Shelters (SUS) - replacement of facilities in Tennant Creek and
    Katherine; and
  • transitional non-residential care services.

Education

The NT is represented on the National Student Attendance Unit (NSAU) by the
Deputy Chief Executive of Education Services.

Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Agreement

Under the Common Policy Framework, the Northern Territory Government agrees
to deliver housing and housing related infrastructure components of these
programs under the Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Agreement (IHIA)
2005-2008
. The new streamlined housing program Northern Territory
Indigenous Housing Program
(NTIHP) will operate alongside Territory Housing,
which retains responsibility for Territory-wide public rental housing and
current home-ownership policies and programs.

c) Monitoring and Evaluation

Closing The Gap contains three mechanisms that will be established to
oversee its implementation:

  • The formation of an Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council, comprising
    Indigenous leaders, representatives from Indigenous organizations and peak
    bodies. The group will advise government on issues affecting Indigenous
    Territorians, facilitate community input into Closing the Gap and oversee
    its implementation.
  • The formation of an Operational Group comprised of the Deputy Chief
    Executives from relevant Northern Territory Government agencies who will be
    responsible to the Chief Executive Taskforce on Indigenous Affairs and will
    drive the implementation of the Closing the Gap across the Northern
    Territory Government. The group will report six monthly to the Chief Minister
    and Cabinet on the progress of the implementation. Cross-agency working groups
    responsible for the implementation of Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage
    report recommendations
    will also be established and will report back to this
    Operational Group, thereby improving the integration of cross agency actions.
  • The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report along with Northern
    Territory Government agency annual and performance reports will be used to
    assess progress against Closing the Gap. These reviews will be conducted
    by the Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council and the Operational Group and
    compiled into a biennial report on progress under Closing the Gap.

d) Programs

Culturally appropriate child protection services:

  • Jidan Gudbalawei’ (Kriol) or Peace at Home project:
    Jointly funded by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments, it aims to
    reduce the incidence of family violence and ensure the safety of family and
    children. The project combines resources from the Northern Territory Police,
    Department of Health and Community Services and community partners.

    The project team works with families to lower family violence and
    educate people about the effects of family violence on families. Using a
    community education model, community safety plans are developed to strengthen
    each community’s capacity to respond to family violence from within.
    Northern Territory Police educate men on the consequences of violent behaviour
    and separate sessions are held with women on services that can support them.
    The Department of Health and Community Services delivers sessions on what
    constitutes child abuse.

    The project team also works with the Northern Territory Correctional
    Services, incorporating a case plan in the ongoing management of clients.

Community education and community development:

  • Pornography awareness education: The Little Children are Sacred
    Report recommended that a pornography awareness education campaign be conducted
    amongst Indigenous people in remote areas. A range of culturally appropriate
    materials have been developed which will be used by a group of trained
    Indigenous men to disseminate the messages in Indigenous communities across the
    Territory within two years. The target group are teenage and adult Indigenous
    males, with complimentary education provided to women and children.
  • Programs for women in Alice Springs Correction Centre: Specific
    sessions for women inmates regarding safe houses and services for women. These
    sessions include psycho-educational information from external providers
    specifically involved with women’s shelters and safe houses.

Programs for Indigenous offenders who perpetrate violence or
abuse (including juveniles):

  • Indigenous Family Violence Offender
    Program:
    [76] Community
    based offender program run by NT Community Corrections. The IFVOP has now been
    run in eight remote communities in the Northern Territory: Nguiu, Oenpelli, Daly
    River, Pirlingimpi, Milikapati, Galawinku, Ntaria and Yuendumu. The Northern
    Territory and Australian Governments entered into a funding partnership to
    consolidate and expand the program into additional communities.
  • Elders Visiting Program: Traditional Elders from remote communities
    across the Northern Territory visit Correctional Centres to speak with prisoners
    about post-release plans, obligations and expectations upon returning to their
    communities.
  • Community Court: Involves people of Indigenous cultural or community
    background. The Community Court is currently operational in Darwin, Tiwi Islands
    and Nhulunbuy.
  • NT Police Youth Diversion Scheme: Provides an interface between
    police and community and is aimed at reducing offending behaviour of young
    people and those at risk of offending. This occurs in a restorative justice
    framework with formal diversion and associated case management support in urban
    centres. In remote and regional areas Community Youth Development Units work
    with those at risk within a community development framework.

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Footnotes