Information about the transfer of the Case Management of Aboriginal children to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

The Victorian Government has supported their commitment to advancing Aboriginal self-management and self-determination for Aboriginal people in Victoria through the transition of care and case management of Aboriginal children from government and non-Aboriginal organisations to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).

The transition is designed to meet the best interests of Aboriginal children so they grow up both strong and connected in their culture. This is an exciting and positive advancement for Aboriginal people in Victoria and is strongly supported not only by organisations such as VACCA, but by all service providers.

Who we are…

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) is the state’s leading Aboriginal child and family welfare agency. We are an Aboriginal community controlled organisation (sometimes referred to as an ACCO) and have been responding to the needs of Aboriginal children, families and other vulnerable members in the community for 40 years.

Our vision is that Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities are thriving—culturally strong, empowered and safe. Our purpose is to work toward the healing of the Aboriginal community through strengthening the safety, wellbeing and cultural connectedness of vulnerable community members, particularly children.

We deliver more than 50 programs across Victoria and our range of out of home care services include Foster Care, Kinship Care, Adolescent Community Placement, Residential Care and Therapeutic Residential Care. These programs run alongside intensive family services work and cultural programs for young people such as art mentoring, possum skin cloak making, return to country programs and cultural camps.

How does connection to culture help Aboriginal children?

In my life, I never really had family around to connect me with my culture. VACCA helped me to know who I am, and it’s because of VACCA that I’ve been able to find out where my people are from, my family and to stay connected with my family.” – Ruby 19

For Aboriginal people, land, the kinship system and spirituality are the foundations on which culture is built. Culture influences thinking, communication and values. And research shows that positive cultural connection for Aboriginal children promotes resilience when dealing with trauma.

At VACCA we believe that for an Aboriginal child to grow into a strong Aboriginal adult they should be supported to learn about, maintain and grow in their knowledge and connection to land, family, community and culture.

That’s why we ensure that ‘VACCA kids’ have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of programs such as music, dance, art, sport and camps. We also host community events such as NAIDOC week, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day and Christmas activities across Victoria.

Transition process

The transfer of care is taking place gradually with the aim that all Aboriginal children will be case managed by an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation by 2024. Existing foster care agencies and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will have conversations individually with carers about the transition timelines for each Aboriginal child in care.

VACCA will be working closely with all carers who will be transferring and the child (or children) in their care. VACCA and all other service providers (such as DHHS, Anglicare, Berry Street, Uniting, MacKillop Family Services, Oz Child and the like) and the Foster Carers Association are working together to support the transition of care and to ensure that throughout the process (and into the future) all carers are provided with the appropriate support and resources to ensure the best possible outcomes for Aboriginal children.

Information for carers

Many of our carers have been with us for a number of years and we have Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal carers. Our carers also hail from all walks of life and may for example be married, single, LGBTQI, working full time, part time, retired, renters or home owners.

VACCA is an accredited foster and kinship care provider and existing foster carers accreditation will not be effected by transferring to VACCA as they have already completed the accreditation process. All Foster Care Agencies (including VACCA) are required by legislation to complete the regulated accreditation process in order to become registered foster care providers.

Carers will continue to receive the same level of financial support (the Caregiver Reimbursement) as specified in their current arrangement. The reimbursement is paid fortnightly by DHHS. The reimbursement is not considered to be a payment and, as such, is not treated as income by Centrelink for taxation purposes.

You can find out more information about reimbursement rates through the Foster Care Association of Victoria website www.fcav.org.au

As a carer of an Aboriginal child you may have already attended Nikara’s Journey training offered by VACCA, if not, VACCA offers training to non-Aboriginal carers caring for Aboriginal children called “Our carers Our Kids” which is a two day training package to assist foster carers to build on their knowledge and explore the challenges, rewards and the needs of Aboriginal children and young people.

Support for carers

Carers will have a caseworker that will support them and the child(ren) in their care. VACCA provides a range of support to carers that include:

• Access to 24 hour support from experienced VACCA staff
• Access to ongoing training and support programs to support and develop skills as a foster carer
• VACCA carers enjoy a range of cultural programs and community events
• In addition to the fortnightly reimbursement carers receive, VACCA carers can apply for additional financial support depending on the needs of the child and current case plan
• For children and families who are currently being supported with targeted care and tailored care packages this support will continue with VACCA.

Further information

Further information is available on the DHHS website, Foster Carers Association or your current foster care agency.

Download the Fact Sheet here