A new partnership aims to ensure Indigenous children in care remain connected to culture and country.
The partnership between Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi (GNL) and child protection charity Barnardos Australia is the first of its kind on the NSW Central Coast.
The Gudjagang Darkinyung out-of-home care program is designed to be culturally specific for Indigenous children.
GNL and Barnardos will work towards Gudjagang Darkinyung becoming a solely Indigenous managed and operated out-of-home care service.
GNL chairperson Rowena Lawrie said: “The cultural identity of our young people is vital to their wellbeing. We are here to ensure they remain connected to their families and country.
“The name of our organisation, Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi, means listen to the children. The children we support have an important role to play as part of the world’s oldest living culture. We are here to provide best-practice care for children in a culturally safe environment.”
While GNL achieves its out-of-home care provider accreditation, Barnardos will support children and their carers with Indigenous case workers.
Along with the NSW Aboriginal Child, Family and Community State Secretariat (AbSec), the two agencies have signed a MOU which aims to achieve full independence for GNL within four years.
Barnardos chief executive Deirdre Cheers said: “Barnardos is committed to Gudjagang Darkinyung becoming an independent Aboriginal service.
“We are thrilled to share our expertise on out of home care and we look forward to learning from Rowena and the team at GNL.
“Children’s wellbeing is the foundation of everything we do at Barnardos. Barnardos is 100 per cent committed to Aboriginal self-determination and fully supports independent Aboriginal agencies caring for Aboriginal children.”
Ms Laurie said the partnership would allow GNL to support 27 children in need of out-of-home care this financial year.
“Since 2011 we have provided services to Aboriginal families, including kin care and foster care families,” she said.
“We are committed to supporting even more Aboriginal children learn more about their identity and connect with their culture.
“We are fulfilling a fundamental right that will ensure their spirit will thrive.”
GNL is an Indigenous agency representing the Aboriginal communities that fall within the local government areas of Wyong and Gosford.
It was established in 2011 by a group of local Indigenous women who were concerned for the growing number of children from the area entering out-of-home care.