“We don’t want you to come in and make a decision for us”: Traversing cultural authority and responsive regulation in Australian child protection systems

Sharynne L. Hamilton, Sarah Maslen, Brad Farrant, Nicole Ilich, Carol Michie - Australian Journal of Social Issues


The Ngulluk Koolunga Ngulluk Koort (Our Children Our Heart) project conducted extensive Elder and community consultation to develop principles and practice recommendations for child protection governance in Western Australia. We explore these principles and practice recommendations and highlight the need for culturally safe community consultation and governance with a focus on repairing damage incurred by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community from past child protection policies. We argue that using principles of responsive regulation and the inclusion of Elder voices in child protection decision making is critical to closing the gap between current practice and what is “best practice” for Aboriginal children and families. We also identify important considerations for preventing further harm through consultation processes, and issues of authority.