Evaluation of the Bringing them home and Indigenous mental health programs
11.3.1 Ensuring Link-Up and BTH services have a stronger focus on first generation Stolen Generations members
The most critical priority for the Link-Up and BTH Programs is to adjust the way they deliver their services, to ensure that there is a clear targeting of first generation Stolen Generations members. While some services already do this, most do not. While it should be regarded as legitimate and important for Link-Up and BTH services to continue to provide services to second and subsequent generations, in a context of limited resources first generation members should be given first priority of access to services.
The following strategies could assist with this.
Services to record and report on the Stolen Generations status of clientsBTH services could be required to record and report on whether their clients have a Stolen Generations history, and both BTH and Link-Up services could be required to record whether their clients are first, second, third generation etc. For this to operate effectively, it would be advisable for OATSIH to consult with the services and Stolen Generations groups as to:
- A common definition to be used across the services to record Stolen Generations status. This should be based on the definition used for the programs (Aboriginal people affected by past government removal policies and practices). However, there may be differing views as to whether only direct descendants of first generation members should be included (ie their children, grandchildren etc), or a broader group of descendants. If a broader group is included, priority should be given to direct descendants since the consultations for the evaluation indicated that these people have experienced the most negative impacts of Stolen Generations experiences.
- The best way to use these figures to inform the organisations’ service delivery. The consultations indicated that it would not be advisable to set standard national quotas across or within the two Programs, since the number of first generation members seems to vary markedly between different locations. However the services should monitor these figures to establish whether their strategies have been successful in attracting first generation clients. To inform this process, services would also need to conduct some research within their communities to get a more accurate idea of the numbers of first generations members.
- Whether an effective standard intake process could be adopted by the Link-Up and BTH services to enable early and accurate identification of clients’/potential clients’ Stolen Generations status. The BTH services report that currently they often do not find out about clients’ Stolen Generations history until some way into their work with clients. However, there are appropriate ways that this might be established in the initial intake process with new or potential clients – for example, asking concrete factual questions such as whether clients know who their family members are and where they live (the term ‘Stolen Generations’ should generally be avoided given its emotive associations). Referral agencies may also be able to provide this information in some instances, subject to relevant privacy requirements.
Proactively seeking out and tailoring services to meet the needs of first generation membersIt would also be advisable for the Link-Up and BTH services to more actively seek out and tailor their services to meet the needs of first generation members. This will require quite a major shift in the way the services conduct their business currently – which is passively responding to the (considerable numbers) of Aboriginal people who walk through their doors.
Strategies to achieve this could include requiring Link-Up and BTH services to:
- Develop annual Strategic Plans including activities designed to identify, appeal to and target the needs of first generation members. This could be incorporated into the SDRF reporting process.
- As part of the above, develop proactive approaches to publicise the intended role of both programs, inform community members, current and potential clients and other agencies to understand the intended roles of the services, including that they have a focus on Stolen Generations members and particularly first generation members. This could also include developing strategies and processes to manage community expectations of the services.
- Conduct and report on some or all of the following activities likely to appeal particularly to first generations members:
- group counselling activities (preferably in community settings)
- outreach work, particularly to first generations members or geographical areas/settings which have high proportions of first generation members (eg prisons)
- providing informal drop-in facilities, including off the premises of the service where feasible
- activities conducted in liaison with local Stolen Generations groups (eg BTH Counsellors attending their group activities, or regularly attending their premises for one-on-one or group counselling sessions)
- supplementary activities for Stolen Generations members which may encourage them to access the service eg developing resources to enable them to tell their stories such as digital story-telling (as used by Nunkuwarrin Yunti in Adelaide ).
- The resource implications of this would need to be carefully considered, given that the Link-Up and BTH services are currently over-stretched. However, clearer targeting by the services of their resource expenditure should also be factored in.
- Develop processes, where possible, to facilitate referral on of clients who do not have Stolen Generations history, or whose needs are not related to this.
Given that State and Territory Governments are responsible for prison systems, these Governments should also fund provision of BTH Counsellors and Link-Up services in those facilities.