Department of Human Services

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1. Introduction

In March 2019, the State Government introduced a new Child and Family Support System strategy that is committed to achieving better health, learning, wellbeing and safety outcomes for children and their families.

Safer Family Services (SFS) will provide help and support to work with children and families at risk of harm, neglect and family violence, by deliberately and strongly intervening to disrupt the patterns of intergenerational trauma, and increase the number of children able to be cared for safely in their homes, connected to culture and community. This is particularly relevant for children and families with multiple and complex needs.

SFS will work with adults who care for children.

While there are several services working toward keeping children safe in their homes, evidence suggests that these services are not working in a connected way (Early Intervention Research Directorate, 2019).

Safer Family Services aims to reduce barriers for children and their families to gain access to timely and targeted services before additional trauma and statutory intervention ensues. Safer Family Services will work in connection with government, non-government agencies and communities to put (at risk) children first, by listening to children and keeping their families strong and well supported.

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) advocates for the rights of children and young people to have their voices heard and due weight be given in decisions that impact their lives.

Safer Family Services is committed to providing services that are inclusive of the child’s voice, and do not position children as passive recipients of services. Ensuring authentic and meaningful engagement will be in the context of child development timeframes in childhood and adolescence. Respecting and understanding the fundamental right of children to be safe and connected to culture and family will be at the core of service engagement.

Aboriginal children and young people are overrepresented in every stage of the child protection system, due to a history of injustice, dispossession and the effects of intergenerational trauma. Aboriginal children are ten times more likely to be removed from their family environments than non-Aboriginal children (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016).

The South Australian inaugural Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People has stated “Aboriginal children need our culture, and our culture needs Aboriginal children” (Lawrie, 2019).

Safer Family Services is committed to working restoratively, building on the resilience and strengths of Aboriginal people, working with, listening to, hearing and acknowledging cultural identity, translating this into practice.

Engaging with families with multiple and complex needs, in the best interest of the child, often means working within an environment that is dominated by fear and anxiety. Assertive engagement and relationship-based case management will be the approach used to deliver support.

For Aboriginal children and families, assertive engagement will be adapted in culturally responsive ways; this may include practitioners engaging with Aboriginal Elders to assist in approaching family members and working in flexible ways to build rapport with children and families.

In addition, by keeping children at the centre of our intervention, we will work collaboratively with adult focused services to ensure that, when they are supporting adults in families, they are mindful of children’s needs (as a priority) to be safely cared for within that family.

The Case Management Framework has been developed to bridge the gap between research and practice. While services within Safer Family Services will have a particular focus on specific phases across the lifespan of the child, the intention of this document is to bring together a Case Management Framework that focuses our attention on the child or young person being cared for safely within their family, and deliver consistent and quality case management practice across Safer Family Services.

Page last updated : 20 Dec 2021

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