An extremely mixed bag of feedback is being received by PeakCare about the National Child Protection Conference co-hosted by the Child and Family Welfare Association, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak and PeakCare in Brisbane on 24 and 25 June.
On the one hand, responses to the feedback survey have featured comments such as:
Outstanding keynote addresses by both Stan Grant and Isaiah Dawe; Isaiah and Stan Grant were absolutely amazing! The highlight of the conference; Truly inspiring!
The panel that addressed self-determination by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people in relation to the safety, wellbeing and protection of their children was excellent
What I liked best? The way it provided opportunities for First Nations and non-Indigenous practitioners to share practice, network and create better understandings
What I liked best? The panel discussion on the Human Rights Act
Loved it, will attend again; This conference was a great example of community effort and goodwill producing very high quality without all the bells and whistles that profit driven conference organisers use; Felt like it was genuinely community generated and beneficial; Congratulations to all involved; It was a pleasure to be part of such a positive experience
On the other hand, responses to the feedback survey have also included comments such as:
It should have been advertised as an Aboriginal Child Protection Conference as the program was very heavily focussed on this… understand they are mis-proportionally in care but there are also many other children in care
I was disappointed that our National Anthem wasn’t played. Why not? Is it because many Aboriginal people do not acknowledge it? Once again the Conference pandered to one group only… no mention of the good work done by workers in the industry, rather they were vilified
Much of what the panel discussed was insulting to me as a worker in the child protection industry. I’m in the business of supporting carers and children after the child has experienced abuse. To suggest that the industry holds responsibility for the action of parents because of historical context is not acceptable to me
Re: Isaiah Dawe’s keynote address: Love to see someone who has been though the child protection system and Aboriginal doing something positive and not just sitting around complaining
The conference used itself as a platform for promoting the newly formed Human Rights Commission… didn’t identify any feedback from presenters or guest speakers that gave the industry some credit for PROTECTING CHILDREN; If Child Safety workers and others from the Industry are hauled in front of the Human Rights Commission, there’ll be a mass exodus from this industry; Can’t help feeling that there are elements of society (particularly lawyers and socialists) who promote the idea of being a victim
The Conference was terrible – very disappointing; Didn’t learn anything – waste of my time
If you attended the conference and have not yet completed the feedback survey, please do so. The closing date has now been extended to Friday 26 July.
Click here to watch and listen to what Isaiah Dawe had to say after delivering his keynote address.
Enter below any comments you wish to make, anonymously of you prefer.
I really found the conference to be valuable the fact that there was such a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presentations said two things to me, first that the organisers received a huge number of abstracts about this and from Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander services which is fantastic! Second that the over representation is totally unacceptable – so focusing on this is so important, but it should not be an either/or – we have to continue to work as a community to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all our children and young people and in doing so support families, carers and kinship carers.
Thank you for providing such a platform for thought and reflection and learning
I was shocked and deeply saddened by the racist overtones in some of the feedback you have received about the conference.
It’s hard to believe that anyone working in the field of child protection can hold such ill-informed, racist views.
I don’t see how it can be regarded that the Conference “pandered to one group only” when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up close to 50% of the child protection system! It is to the credit of the Conference organisers that this was one of the few conferences I have been to where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers and organisations were well-represented and shown the respect they deserve. These speakers and presenters included some of the most well educated and highly regarded child protection experts in the country and to make dismissive and disparaging comments about them embarrasses all non-Indigenous people who attended the conference.
It’s hard to fathom how someone could attend the conference without learning something when so many new things were discussed – new human rights legislation, new youth justice reforms, new First Children and Families Board, new thinking by speakers such as Jim Anglin, new initiatives concerning foster care, new health initiatives concerning children in care to name just a few.
I just wanted to share my sadness and shock at some of the comments that were made within the conference evaluations which were published last week in the PeakCare news. That these racist comments were made by people charged with responsibilities for the care and protection of children in Queensland is deeply troubling. While the comments were highly offensive I commend PeakCare for having the courage to publish them. It is only through making such views visible that we can confront the reality of what we are still needing to tackle. I think it suggests the need for the sector to consider our responsibilities in moving the industry forward with regard to anti-discrimination and cultural respect. We’d value, at Life without Barriers, being involved in any dialogue regarding this.
Thanks again for bring these issues to light.
I found the conference interesting. I would have liked more information on the services available outside of the South East as I am not based in Brisbane. The Keynote speakers were excellent and I was inspired by both of them.
The information presented by all speakers was knowledgeable and well-informed. I was moved by the presentation by the young kinship carers this gave me insight as how I can help my students who live in both formal and non-formal kinship arrangements.
Some of the negative comments appear incredibly racist to me. We are living and working in this field on stolen land, the colonisation of Australia and the impact that this has had on First Nation’s people was accurately centred within the conference. In fact it was one of the most valuable aspects of the conference. I am completely disappointed by some of the comments made and hope those individuals are able to learn about the significance of acknowledging the historical role social work and child protection has played in conducting genocide. This is a national issue that continues to impact the lives of First Nation’s and non-indigenous Australians.
By far and away, I found the most value in the presentations for and by the Aboriginal Speakers and Representatives. What strength, what humility, what perseverance and courage; we could all take a leaf out of their book and maybe if we did, as a State and as a Nation, we might all be better. Thank you!
It was sobering to read the feedback and I was saddened and reminded of the presence of racism in our community and in our sector – both explicit racism and the level of microaggressions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples every day. Learning to sit with discomfort, listening to the impact of our words and our work on others and a humility and willingness to learn – are fundamental to our practice. Thank you PeakCare for privileging the voice of First Nations practitioners and leaders and providing the space for those of us who are non-Indigenous to listen and learn. Thank you too for sharing these comments, though it was hard. This dialogue is necessary if we are to ensure that there is justice in our work with families and communities. Would welcome the chance to continue to talk about how those of us who are non-Indigenous in this sector step up in this space.
I am really disappointed at the comments made by conference participants about the content being only geared to one group of people or that it should have been advertised as an Aboriginal child protection conference. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are the bulk of our work. To think that we wouldn’t tailor programs and education around our client group is sadly not best practice.
The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women is hopefully starting the journey to right the wrongs of our history that we all hold responsibility for. But we need everyone to partner with us and with the Aboriginal communities across Queensland to walk that road with us.
My congratulations to Peakcare and it’s partners QATSICPP and the Child and Family Welfare Association for their vision and leadership for the conference content.
I was shocked and disappointed to read some of the conference feedback – it is highly disturbing that people who are apparently supporting vulnerable children and families involved in the care system should express views which can only be described as racist and deeply offensive. It is important that such behaviour is called out.
Congratulations to PeakCare for a thoughtful and thought provoking conference and our thanks to QATSICPP, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presenters and participants for all that they shared with the attendees.
It doesn’t come as any big shock, because many have to cover their mistakes by placing blame back on the minorities. Maybe they want to keep their big dollars rolling in with no concerns of it being taken from them, along with their prestige.But thank you for providing truths and some strong initiatives from mainstream and our mob.
Thank you Peakcare for having the moral courage to share this feedback. It allows an opportunity for reflection and discussion and importantly, demonstrates that these opinions and values are not a figment of our imagination or fantasies constructed to perpetuate our “victimhood”. They reveal the very real challenges that we confront in our work of advocating for our children and families. It is our children and families that see, hear and feel the impact of these expressions of bigotry in their contact with these individuals and the organisations that harbor them, disguised as offers of help.
Thank you for creating the space at the conference for Aboriginal people and organisations to demonstrate our leadership and share our perspectives and our truth. I am immensely proud of the contributions made by our mob throughout the conference and everyday in their communities and make no apologies if this makes some people uncomfortable.
I attended Day One of the National Child Protection Conference and this is what I found:
• I learned from people with a lived experience
• I learned from people showcasing their practice, programs and research focusing on the range of children, young people and families who are involved in the child protection system
• I learned about significant initiatives and reforms impacting the child protection system
• I was respected as a person working in the field, challenged to reflect on my understanding and practice, and encouraged to contribute to discussions
• I met some new people and caught up with some people who I hadn’t seen for awhile.
This is what I’d hoped to find.
Could it have been better? Sure – I think we need to:
• better engage people with a lived experience in attending and participating in conferences
• review the format of conferences including how to encourage and facilitate more interaction and discussion.
So, thank you to PeakCare Qld, QATSCIPP and CAFWAA on a well attended, well organised and well presented conference.
Like others who have submitted feedback in the last few days I was taken aback by the racist views posted as conference feedback. There is no place for such views in the work we collectively undertake.
As child protection practitioners we have a responsibility to respond to families in a culturally responsive manner with an understanding of the historical context. In my workplace we hold cultural integrity as one of our values and have a strong commitment to building our staff’s cultural capability.
Conferences are one way for us to build our knowledge, skills and networks and to understand how important it is as non-indigenous practitioners to ally with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues to bring real change. Please know that the opportunities the conference presented were much appreciated and that there are non-indigenous practitioners committed to ‘calling in’ and coaching those who need to build their cultural knowledge.
Peakcare and QATSICPP presented an excellent national conference which I was privileged to attend.
I was not able to attend the conference, but felt a heavy sadness when I read much of the feedback. The polarised views are deeply worrying for a sector that needs to stand together understanding, respecting and learning from one another so we can successfully address challenges that have remained unresolved for many decades. The comments shows that we still have a long way to go in the areas commented on and have an awful lot of work to do along the way to ensure everyone in our sector and our nation feels respected, heard, valued, safe and included. A perceived or real blame game gets us nowhere when most people in our sector are passionate, committed, compassionate, hard-working and genuinely trying to do their best and the correct thing.
In the end it is about the protection of one of our most precious and vulnerable groups – our beautiful children. Improving and getting that right for them is paramount.
Thank you to PeakCare for your courage in creating a space for this dialogue, which is distressing but needed if we are to move forward with a shared vision for a safe, happy, healthy, fulfilling future for every child. I hope this does not overshadow what sounded like an inspiring and worthwhile conference.
It’s inconceivable to me that someone working within the child protection sector does not wish to be held to account for respecting the human rights of children and their families. I hope that there is an exodus of people from our sector who do not uphold these principles – those beliefs and values don’t belong here
I was able to attend some afternoon sessions on day one of the conference. I particularly enjoyed Ruth Barson’s knowledge and perspective that she presented as part of the panel discussion on Human Rights. The work that has already been undertaken in this area in other states is critical to prepare Queensland, so we can learn from mistakes of others and be guided by their successes.
What I find to be saddening and quite shocking is the feedback from some participants about the content of the conference as it relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. For professionals in the child protection industry to ignore the historical context of colonisation and the devastating impact that it still has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and family is simply astounding. While on many levels we are working to address the issue, our system is in crisis when it comes to overrepresentation. To remain neutral or silent on this issue further contributes to the systematic oppression of First Nations people and does no good for any child or family we work with.
I would gently ask any participant who felt that matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at the conference was ‘not relevant’ or ‘too much’ to acknowledge your own position of privilege… To quietly reflect, if your immediate response is ‘I didn’t meant to offend’, on how your comments and even your practice approach, could make someone from another culture feel unsafe and disrespected. And, in the interests of being the best practitioner you can be, one who is ethical, compassionate and who should always be in a position of openness to learning, I would encourage you to explore the resource ‘2nd Edition of Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice’. I have found this resource immensely useful as a non-Indigenous practitioner. In particular the chapter ‘Cultural Competence – Transforming Policy, Services, Programs and Practice’ – http://www.telethonkids.org.au/our-research/early-environment/developmental-origins-of-child-health/aboriginal-maternal-health-and-child-development/working-together-second-edition/
I congratulate Peakcare on providing a forum where professionals can learn, share and grow and focus on issues such as overrepresentation. I would expect nothing less from an organisation whose core business relates to Child Protection- Thank you again.
I didn’t attend the conference but I have great respect for the organisers and to hear that there was support and recognition for the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people. It is awful to read the derogatory comments but yes it is also enlightened to publish them. As Angela Davis,the Black Communist Feminist would say it sharpens our focus on what we cannot accept and what we need to change.
Steve Lock, Practice Leader (Domestic and Family Violence), Practice Connect, CSYW, Qld Govt
As the Director General of the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women I would like to thank PeakCare, CAFWAA and QATSICPP for co-hosting the National Child Protection Conference in June and providing a space for the showcasing of quality practice and leadership in our sector. And to thank them for their leadership in putting a spotlight on some of the feedback received about the conference which was sobering to read. We as a department acknowledge and honour the leadership, knowledge and expertise of the community controlled sector – who we know are best placed to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. The over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system is reflective of a service system that is in need of change and it demands our attention and focus in all discussions and settings. It is my expectation that staff who work in my department and those who we partner with in the NGO sector through funding relationships, have a deep commitment to addressing this over representation and are daily applying active efforts in their partnering with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and communities. I personally acknowledge the leadership and mentorship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who have supported my own development in this area and I welcome this difficult dialogue that we as a sector need to have.
The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health encourages and supports open discourse and dialogue to strengthen and grow our community. We support the work of PeakCare in encouraging meaningful engagement and breaking down barriers. Breaking down the barriers of conditioned inherent bias or negative thinking is essential to create a community that allows all individuals to reach their full and unique potential. We respect and support the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and peak agencies in their fearless efforts to break down barriers and build safe communities. We thank PeakCare Queensland for creating a forum where there can be meaningful lessons and growth. We hope this will be the start of many discussions within workplaces and the sector about moving forward to a place of acceptance and best practice where the potential of individuals and communities is honoured.
I actually have no words. Well done on calling out the racist conference feedback received. There is no place for racism in the protection of children and young people.
I attended Day One and the first part of Day Two of the conference where I had the privilege to hear Isaiah Dawe speak and the Panel. I am extremely disappointed everyone who attended the conference did not recognise it for what it was – an excellent opportunity to understand both the direction our sector needs to take and the inherent strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and families. I can only hope the person sitting next to me, repeatedly checking their watch during the welcome to country, was not a Queenslander. On the other hand people I spoke with at the conference were very positive about the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations profiled at the conference. As a non-Indigenous person I know I need to continually ask myself how I can create space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and organisations, to be heard and show what they can achieve. In my current role I have already seen evidence they are able to make a more positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families. I too am grateful for the mentorship and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and colleagues who continue to support my development. There is so much more we need to do, including calling out racism. PeakCare thank you for ensuring we have this conversation.
Toni Cash, Manager – Practice Advice and Support, Department of Child Safety Youth and Women.
Like others – I was shocked, saddened and felt angry and sick when I read these racist comments last week. My first reaction was (aqain like some others) to think it is best that people who hold these views are not working in our sector with children and families who need practitioners who are not racist; who hold social justice values underpinning everything they do; are reflective; and who are curious and continue to want to learn from the children and families we serve and from the partners we serve them with. I have been thinking and reflecting on the original comments and watching the other comments as they have been posted. And this has led me to wonder – someone out there knows and cares for the people who made these comments. This gives us an opportunity to use our fundamental helping tool – relationship – with people to bring about change. We have supervision relationships that allow us to have these meaningful reflective conversations. We have partnerships with others that enable us to have conversations that explore difficult and challenging values and shape change. We have training and professional development opportunities that enable us to take a trauma lens and provide multi layered psycho education that helps people to understand their own racism and to learn to move away from racism and into relationship that enables us to be good allies and partners to others. We have loads of written material that helps us to develop our cognitions to be able to engage in active efforts – as Michael Hogan and Natalie Lewis suggested above. Thank you Megan Cornock for a lovely suggestion for one active effort we can make. And thank you Peakcare for this opportunity to make another active effort – in terms of our thinking and this conversation.
I am encouraged that people in relationship with me have patiently helped me to grow and reflect over the more than 30 years I have been in practice. I am hoping that there are others out there who will patiently help these folk to grow and reflect – now and into the future – as a result of the conference and this subsequent conversation. I am happy to be of assistance in this if you want to be in contact with me. I am not hard to find – any colleagues in the department and many in the sector can help you to find me at Practice Advice and Support.
Keynote speakers Stan Grant and Isaiah Dawe were very inspirational and moving listening to their stories and hearing of their courage in what they are achieving in their life. They are a credit to the Aboriginal Community. I was also inspired by Dr James Anglin and his speech on how to respond to pain-based behaviour in Young People. Well done.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are 10X more likely to come in contact with the child protection system. This appalling figure in itself is enough to justify WHY we need to continue to have this open and difficult conversation to shine the light on where the system continues to fail our First Nations children. If we are going to change the system then we need to listen to the people it is most impacting. I applaud PeakCare and QATSICPP for putting on this event that showcased these voices but am shocked and disgusted by the ignorant and racist comments that pervade this sector.
Like many other attendees I was saddened to read some of the feedback from the conference. It is so important to hear the voice of our first nations people in relation to the child protection system, and to sit in the ‘uncomfortableness’ of being open to their message and to acknowledge the impact of past experience on their present culture. I applaud PeakCare and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait leaders who presented at the conference for highlighting the strengths and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and the importance of listening to their story.
Thank you PeakCare for having the courage to confront tough issues and encourage reflection within the child protection sector.
The over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in the child protection system in Queensland is disgraceful and it is entirely appropriate that a child protection conference has a strong focus on this issue.
Information about the Human Rights Act must be shared with the child protection sector. As workers we have an opportunity to reflect on our practice to ensure compliance with human rights standards and also to use the Act to advocate for the children and families we work with.
Queensland’s Human Rights Commission is in part a safety net, it isn’t something workers who have a practice based on principles of Freedom, Respect, Equality and Dignity should have any fear about.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but from reading the blog and comments I think it sounds like a resounding success – including the negative feedback. People feeling uncomfortable at hearing the truth is a part of the process of change and it’s great that they gave voice to these feelings as feedback because it gives us all an opportunity to respond with positivity, as many people have. Creating awareness of systemic inequities is a prerequisite to acknowledgement and change. Raising awareness about the levels of disadvantage and distress Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have and continue to experience causes listeners to be uncomfortable. Some people sit with the discomfort and reflect and that enables them to acknowledge the experience of Indigenous peoples and seek to create positive change. Others interpret the discomfort they feel after hearing the truth as someone else’s problem and project negativity and blame. As leaders in this sector it is our responsibility to help people to sit with the discomfort and reflect in a way that allows us to move forward. Perhaps some overt processes for assisting people to do this would be a good thing to include in the next conference.
Dear colleagues, the conference offered fantastic opportunity to witness so many great stories and events shared in those two days. I thoroughly enjoyed all the sessions, which I could attend. Apart from many activities, I found the video clips on experiences of the young persons on living in the care can articulate so much learning opportunity in context of our ongoing policy and practice approaches.
Also just cautiously wondering if there is any feedback on my presentation “Building family empowerment focused practice-A training based on qualitative research” on day two- much appreciated.
For me, the discussion that has followed from the National Child Protection Conference has provided an opportunity to reflect on my personal responsibility to continuously consider the impact of language and actions on others. As part of the dominant white culture, I do need to constantly be aware of my limitations in terms of understanding the experience of others and, especially, the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kylie Phipps comments summed this up for me when she said, ‘listening to the impact of our words and our work on others and a humility and willingness to learn- are fundamental to our practice’
Natalie Lewis reminded us of the very real impacts and challenges on children and families who experience inherent bias and racism on a daily basis. If this can be at the forefront of our dialogue, we are more likely to be able to move forward together. I am also sorry that these comments have added to this daily barrage. Hopefully, this can be somewhat countered by the strong sentiments of respect and justice that have permeated the majority of responses.
I think it is also important for us to think about how we engage with both colleagues and people in the broader community around inherent racism and bias. How might we do this in ways that bring us together in our understanding and in our practice.
In light of recent feedback by a minority of individuals who attended the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak Conference on the 24th and 25th of June, I would like to reiterate Uniting Care’s position.
The on-line survey went far beyond what might be regarded as feedback about an event and instead served as a statement of the beliefs and values held by a minority number of the conference attendees, the nature of which was viewed by PeakCare as distressing.
Similarly, UnitingCare is strongly opposed to the views made through the online survey. Our organisational values firmly confirm our belief that any discriminatory comments made about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples or any one multicultural group of people will not be supported or tolerated by our organisation.
Please take the opportunity to view our organisational values via this link https://www.unitingcareqld.com.au/about-us/who-we-are/mission-and-values remembering our purpose and our mission.
As an organisation, we strongly believe and agree with Peakcare that the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system is indicative that there is much to be done. In collectively working together our service system has the best chance to deliver for all families and communities. This can only be achieved through open discussion. We also thank the Indigenous leaders of our community for their ongoing willingness to collaborate and work with us to ensure a positive progress on all issues for children.
Group Executive Family and Disability Services
Mercy Community adds our voice to the many stakeholders sharing concerns over comments made by some participants at the National Child Protection Conference co-hosted by PeakCare, QATSICPP and CAFWAA in June. As an organisation built on values of Mercy, Acceptance, Excellence, Dignity, Empowerment, and Integrity, Mercy Community thanks those colleagues who have responded in support of PeakCare, QATSCIPP and CAFWAA, and raised important questions that remind us all of the values and principles we, as a sector, are committed to.
As one of Queensland’s longest providers of out-of-home care, Mercy Community attended the conference in a spirit of respectful learning and sharing with colleagues from across our sector. As always, we were both inspired and humbled by the insights and experiences of our partners and colleagues from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations, as well as people with lived experience of out-of-home care. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people over-represented in out-of-home care, we found the strong presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations at the conference both appropriate and positive.
Like many who have commented here, Mercy Community works to address the complex issues underlying this over-representation in respectful partnership with families, young people, Elders, the community, the Department, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and other service providers. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with PeakCare, QATSICPP, CAFWAA, and the sector in future conferences, and future conversations that shed light on issues facing the communities we serve – no matter how hard these are to have and to hear.
Chief Executive Officer