October 31, 2023
The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has been awarded a Western Australian government contract to provide children’s Out of Home Care (OOHC) Services.
SWAMS is one of five new Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) who will deliver OOHC services across the state. We will support local people to provide community foster care.
The appointment was made after the Department of Communities acknowledged that ACCOs are best placed to provide and ensure culturally safe care for Aboriginal children in OOHC.
“SWAMS is best positioned within the Aboriginal community, making family or kinship care options more suitable,” SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said.
“Improved opportunities for early reunification and strengthened family and cultural connections will lead to greater stability for children as well as the ability to remain on country, connected to family, community and culture, in culturally safe care arrangements.”
The program will allow SWAMS to build its staff and community capability in the OOHC sphere before OOHC care begins to be provided by SWAMS carers in the next few months.
The Department of Communities’ long-term goal is to ensure all Aboriginal children in OOHC in Western Australia live with family or in care arrangements provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCOs).
“This is a great opportunity for our Aboriginal children to have the best start in life possible under the circumstances,” Ms Nelson added.
“SWAMS is privileged to be in this space, working towards making a difference to Aboriginal children and young people’s lives by creating an environment where safety and wellbeing are the centre of our aspirations, ethos and operations.
“The government’s OOHC reform enables ACCOs to work on the ground, have a seat around the table when it comes to OOHC in the state; it gives SWAMS the opportunity to contribute to the safety of community and families in more culturally informed and meaningful ways.
“We will now see firsthand how Aboriginal community and families come together to ensure that our children and young people feel their culture and identity is respected.
“Congratulations to the other successful ACCOs who have been awarded these contracts for the first time, too. We look forward to closer collaboration and learnings in the coming weeks, months and years.
“SWAMS will look towards the existing Aboriginal Corporations for leadership and guidance as they have worked in this sector for many years.
“We look forward to increasing culturally appropriate capacity within our communities and families in the south west, to nurture our Aboriginal children and young people to so they can achieve their aspirations.”
Ms Nelson said she and the SWAMS Board of Directors thanked the team who have worked on this project for their vision in embracing this new programme being delivered in the south-west region.
“SWAMS is looking forward to working with the Department of Communities and the generous carers who take children into their own homes and provide OOHC as we transition to a new way forward.”