Winangay Resources
Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles

Overview

Practice focus

The ability of Winangay Resources to deliver culturally relevant resources/tools that assist workers across multiple sectors to deliver positive outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged Aboriginal children, families and communities.

Delivered by

Winangay Resources Inc.: A small not-for-profit Aboriginal controlled non-government organisation.

www.winangay.com

The information provided for the Promising Practice Profile was supplied by a Public Officer at Winangay Resources.

Service type

Winangay provide training and capacity-building support through the development of specialist materials and assessment tools that are specifically designed for services and staff to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These resources are targeted at carers and staff working in the out-of-home-care (OOHC), mental health and social support sectors.

Location(s)

The resources are delivered Australia-wide, including regional, rural and remote areas.

Description

The resources were initially designed to support workers and carers in the OOHC sector to assist them in providing culturally relevant services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The resources included an assessment tool, training materials and capacity-building support. As the resources became more broadly recognised as an effective source of support, organisations from the Criminal Justice sector and mental health service providers expressed an interest in using the materials. In response, Winangay added to their resources by developing a set of culturally appropriate mental health and social emotional well-being tools. The resources can now be used across early intervention, prevention and restoration programs.

The resources were created in response to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the OOHC system and the subsequent loss of culture, connection to land and language. The Winangay team identified limitations in existing resources for workers who needed access to culturally appropriate tools that could support them in their practice to help facilitate improved outcomes for children and families. It was also recognised that innovative ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were necessary and that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people could work together and contribute to the reconciliation process. The over-arching objective was to promote social and emotional well-being for Aboriginal people and their communities by helping to alleviate their hardships and overall level of disadvantage.

The specific aims of Winangay Resources are to:

  • work towards social justice for Aboriginal families and communities;
  • promote the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal children and communities;
  • support initiatives that aim to maintain Aboriginal children's cultural identity and family relationships;
  • reduce Aboriginal disadvantage by providing resources and education to help alleviate their grief, loss and hardship in order to build capacity in Aboriginal communities;
  • empower and support Aboriginal people by fostering self-determination and participation; and
  • shape best practice in the development of culturally appropriate resources, programs and training.
Resourcing

Winangay Resources Inc. is a social action and reconciliation organisation that is self-funded. Development work is pro-bono and is carried out in a mixed team of professionals, academics and community members of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal background. Training sessions are priced to cover costs and organisational expenses such as printing. Winangay has recieved a one-off contribution from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) towards a pilot and for printing and distribution of copies of one resource.

Practice

MOST promising aspect

The resources were based on national and international research and were piloted as a way to gather further evidence to verify their effectiveness and further refine them. The tool represents a seismic shift in the way assessments are undertaken and provides a mechanism through which power is shared between workers and carers to enable them to devise a collaborative action plan to identify client strengths and needs.

Other promising aspects

In the words of Dawn Wallum (Chair of Secretariat of National Aboriginal Child Care) "The Winangay Aboriginal Kinship Care Assessment Tool has the potential to reduce the numbers of Aboriginal children in non-Aboriginal care and to contribute to closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and families". It is an example of how to create purpose built tools that are participatory, collaborative and culturally appropriate without undermining formal standards or requirements. It allows strength-based practices and incorporates the views of Aboriginal families while acknowledging the trauma experienced by many Aboriginal people.

The tool incorporates ecological and systemic understandings using narrative approaches. The rating continuum provides a visual framework for scaling and solution-focused approaches. A great strength of the tool is that it promotes respectful relationships by facilitating workers to engage Aboriginal people in finding environments for young Aboriginal people to thrive and achieve their potential. As a result, fewer children will be disconnected from family, culture and community. This will result in less trauma, stronger identities and more positive outcomes for Aboriginal carers and in developing collaborative action plans, which are relevant, achievable and enabling.

Evidence base and opportunities

Winangay Resources undertook extensive research in response to an identified need for supportive tools and materials that would assist carers and workers in the OOHC system to help deliver real outcomes for Aboriginal children, families and communities. The primary consideration was that these resources were to be culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The success in developing such culturally appropriate materials can be attributed to the collaborative research and development efforts of a wide range of professionals, academics, OOHC workers and carers who have a sound knowledge of Aboriginal communities and circumstances. The resources were then extensively tested and further refined by collecting and acting upon feedback from a broad range of Aboriginal groups and individuals. In taking this collabroative approach to the development of the resources, and by maintaining a focus on producing outcomes for Aboriginal children and families, Winangay Resources has demonstrated an innovative and effective approach to supporting the social and emotional well-being of Aborginal children and communities.

Cultural relevance

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Winangay provides a best practice model of reconciliation with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together, drawing on their shared expertise to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and families. An understanding of the needs of Aboriginal clients was informed by yarns with Elders from across the country, focus groups with Aboriginal kinship carers and yarning with Aboriginal children and workers. Aboriginal academics provided an overview of the research and the team reviewed existing programs and practices to generate a comprehensive understanding of Aboriginal people's needs.

The orginal pilot of the resources and evaluative feedback involved Aboriginal workers and services from around Australia. The reference group that was involved in the development and the approval of the pilot and evaluations was also predominantly Aboriginal.

Cultural practices and materials

The resources facilitate an effective way to work collaboratively with Aboriginal children and families. They are strength-based and provide positive images of Aborginal families and communities. The visual images are humorous and engaging and appeal to Aboriginal people. They also allow Aboriginal people to provide information through narrative yarning that fits with their way of communicating. The training and assessment tools encourage workers to yarn and interact in a conversational manner rather than in a formal way.

Adaptability

The initial resources focused on an innovative way of assessing carers and supporting OOHC service providers. The resources can be readily adapted for use in family support, restoration, children's contact services, community work, mental health, well-being and many other areas.

Winangay resources fill a significant gap nationally as they provide the first culturally appropriate kinship assessment tool. Winangay have versions to assess new and existing kinship carers and to review carers annually. The approach was so popular with workers that Winangay developed sister tools for non-Aboriginal contexts. In this sense, Aboriginal resources have been adapted for non-Aboriginal audiences instead of vice versa.

Evaluation

Evaluation status

The resources have been evaluated independently by an external source. Future evaluation options will depend on the funding available. Winangay have applied for funding to conduct a larger scale independent evaluation. Elders and other Aboriginal people will be involved as trainers of other Aboriginal workers. The workers and carers who use the resources will also be predominantly Aboriginal. The evaluator will be independent and may or may not include Aboriginal researchers.

Effectiveness

Demonstrated outcomes

An evaluation of the orginal pilot found the resources to be culturally appropriate, user friendly and very effective. Other findings from the evaluation include:

  • the resources worked in cities, rural and remote locations around Australia equally well;
  • the resources assisted in building strong relationships between workers and carers;
  • comments and ratings were very positive and supported the value of the resource;
  • the top ten words used to describe the tool were "culturally appropriate", "practical", "easy to use", "empowering", "respectful", "creative", "deadly", "clear", "useful" and "participatory"; and,
  • 100% of users said they would recommend the resources to others.

Satisfaction ratings were extremely positive. When participants were asked how they would rate Winangay resources, the average score was 8.93 out of 10. In terms of how culturally appropriate the tool was, the reported average score was 9.19 out of 10. Over 250 qualitative comments were also received and were in most cases extremely positive.

The resources' action plans are crucial and help to facilitate the start of supportive relationships between carers and workers. The time taken to use the resources varies greatly and is dependent on the approach of workers and carers. Even carers who were initially reluctant to be assessed reported finding the tool useful and effective. Workers reported that they used the assessment tool with families who were very concerned about the idea of a worker coming to assess or review a placement. However, the families reported the experience as positive. The evaluation tools themselves were designed to be culturally appropriate and used a visual format which was well received by carers and workers.

Other evidence

Workers who were trained after the pilot were contacted to provide feedback about their experience or became involved in feedback focus groups. The collection of feedback was timed to occur 6-8 weeks after the training so that they had the opportunity to use the resources. The feedback on both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal versions of the materials was also very positive.

Replicability

The resources were developed to be easy to use and simple to follow. However, they utilise a complex methodology, detailed competencies and extensive research. Sector experts, researchers and academics had identified the underpinning validity, reliability and rigor and grasped the value and strength of this innovative approach. The process of developing the resources included identifying national and international research to ensure compliance with national and state competencies and standards while designing front-end materials that would be user-friendly and engaging. It was a "cultural interpreting process" that fits western identified standards into an Aboriginal world view. This has been an important part of the innovation and continues to contribute to the ongoing effectiveness of the resources across multiple sectors.

 

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