13 June 2013

caringA social work student has been awarded an inaugural scholarship of $10,000 to research why disproportionately high levels of Aboriginal children are in State care across Australia.

Despite accounting for less than five per cent of the total population of Australian children, more than a third of those in Australian State care (34 per cent) are identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children.

Jean Bacon, who combines her social work studies alongside working with children in care,  will use the Ian Cox Memorial Social Work Honours Scholarship to travel and interview Aboriginal workers, to learn why this disproportion exists.

“The number of Aboriginal children in State care is of concern to Governments and human service workers across all jurisdictions of Australia,” says Ms Bacon.

“Though Aboriginal children account for 4.9 per cent of the total population of Australian children they are overrepresented in Australia’s out of home care systems in unsustainable numbers indicating that mainstream solutions to the issue do not appear to be working.

“Reasons for this overrepresentation are complex and the research aims to interview Aboriginal workers in the human service field to ascertain what they view as the factors impacting on the numbers of Aboriginal children in Australian State care.

“The workers will be predominantly from cultural consultation, cultural advisory and program and service development roles within the human service field.

“The research will be designed as a continuous consultation and collaboration process with the Families SA Senior Aboriginal Leadership Committee (SALC).

“The methodology seeks to empower the Aboriginal participants to have their voices heard and acknowledge the Aboriginal community as custodians of traditional knowledge.”

The Ian Cox Memorial Social Work Honours Scholarship was established in memory of Ian Cox whose contribution to community welfare across the State included his role as Associate Professor and lecturer in Social Work at UniSA from 1987 to 2000.

Eligible applicants for the scholarship include those whose research focus concerns children and young people in residential care, community engagement in the support of children and families at risk and the education of disadvantaged children.

Media contact: Will Venn office 8302 0965 email Will.Venn@unisa.edu.au

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