A ground breaking new course was launched at the South Bank campus last night that is specifically designed to provide graduates with the capability to influence the child protection sector, while respecting the enduring cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In a joint initiative by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP), the Griffith University First Peoples Health Unit and the School of Human Services and Social Work revealed the Queensland Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Child Protection Practice Standards (7050HSV) will be offered from 2019 onwards as part of the Graduate Certificate in Human Services Program.
Discussing the importance of such initiatives Michael Hogan, recently appointed as the Director General for the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, advised that, “We are so thrilled to see the launch of this course – the first of its kind in Australia – to recognise and embed cultural knowledge, authority and experience at the core of great practice. This is the result of wonderful collaboration between practitioners, community-controlled organisations, QATSICPP and Griffith University, with support from the Queensland Government. Thriving children need empowered families, and they need practitioners enabled with great tools and capabilities. Together with a host of initiatives flowing from the Our Way Strategy, this course will make a difference in keeping kids safe, well, connected and secure in family, culture and community.”
The initiative stems from Professor Roianne West’s 2017 presentation of her research, titled “Rising to the greatest challenge of our time – Culturally safe places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families thrive in supportive communities”, at the Queensland Family and Child Commission. Following this Professor West and Clare Tillbury, Inaugural Leneen Forde Chair of Child and Family Research, School of Human Services and Social Work, were approached by QATSICPP to collaborate on converting the Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child protection practice standards into a university level qualification. The standards seek to honour the enduring cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, drawing on knowledge systems of their connections to family, community, country and culture. The standards apply to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family services that provide child protection services.
The Griffith University and QATSICPP partnership builds on the education and training provided by QATSICPP’s Practice Standards and provides a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People into University. Enrolment into the course takes into consideration 5 years working experience in Human Services and the first intake of students is being restricted to those with QATSICPP community-controlled organisations membership for Term 3, 2018.
“The School welcomes 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child protection practitioners to share knowledge, develop strategies for working with children and families, and become a part of our student body that is committed to advancing good practice in this critical area. The partnership with QATSICCP, the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, and the FPHU will enable us to move forward on an agenda to promote strong communities and meet the needs of children and families” says Professor Donna McAulifffe, Head of School for the School of Human Services and Social Work, about the program.
On 1 July 2012, a commission was established to review the entire child protection system and one of the findings was that the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has tripled. A recommendation to address this was for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to implement a program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers to attain the requisite qualifications to become Child Safety officers, which this partnership will facilitate.
“It’s is so exciting to finally see a Sector driven post graduate qualification,” says Chairperson of the QATSICPP Board Rachel Atkinson.
“This course sets the bench mark for consistency in delivering services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families across Queensland. It has been a boost for the morale of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from our Community Controlled Child Protection Sector to come together and share their knowledge and expertise in a university environment. The course formalises the work that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been doing with families in their communities for many years. I commend QATSICPP and Griffith University on this important collaborative effort and looking forward to the incredible impact that the students will make in their communities for children, young people and families and I encourage others to do the course in the future.” Rachel Atkinson Chairperson of the Board QATSICPP.
The Graduate Certificate in Human Services is mixed mode degree consisting of online and residential components. The degree recognises the work and lived experience of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce of community-controlled Child Protection Sector. Josh Leedie, a student who attended the launch, has said that course gives them the strength and the confidence to be able to more effectively advocate for their children, families and communities and bring about genuine change for our people.
Student who successfully complete the course will have the opportunity to pathway into the Graduate Certificate of Human Services and then into Master of Human Services. Griffith’s vision is to be one of the most influential universities in Australia and this initiative ensures the continued improvement of the child protection sector through our graduates.