The NSW government is expanding its Care Circle program to Lismore. The program gives Aboriginal people greater input into decisions about the care of children at risk.
The Care Circles are conducted in an informal setting outside of court, often in a local park. They enable Aboriginal families and community leaders to meet with all parties involved in a case to develop a plan for the safety and wellbeing of the child.
This may include discussions about placement options, contact arrangements and the support services that should be made available to families.
The Care Circle program will be launched by NSW attorney-general, Greg Smith SC, the president of the Children’s Court, Judge Mark Marien SC, and Community Services chief executive, Anne Campbell.
Ms Campbell said conventional care proceedings conducted in court can be intimidating, overwhelming and stressful for participants today.
‘Aboriginal families can sometimes feel vulnerable and alienated by court processes. Many families still live with the legacy of the stolen generations which can lead to fear and mistrust of government,’ Ms Campbell said.
Mr Smith said many Aboriginal families felt Care Circles provided opportunities for involvement in decision making that were not available in conventional court proceedings.
Judge Marien said Care Circles provide a unique and important opportunity for considerations of Aboriginal culture and identity to be taken into account.
‘Decisions made about the future of Aboriginal children in the setting of a Care Circle are therefore more likely to result in better outcomes for those children,’ he said.