Respecting diversity

The department provides services to children and families who are diverse in many ways. Diversity can be attributable to differences in cultural and linguistic background, gender, lifestyle, sexuality, socio-economic status, family composition, personal beliefs and values. Diversity is reflected among the staff, as well as the people with whom the department works.

Diversity is enriching, sometimes threatening and almost always challenging.

Respecting diversity is about:

  • building responsive relationships
  • open and honest communication
  • examining one's own personal ideas, customs and beliefs and respecting that the beliefs of one person may not be the same as another
  • acknowledging and respecting that others can hold different beliefs with equal conviction.

Culture and language are part of identity. Children and families can suffer if their culture and language are ignored, demeaned or marginalised. Culture is dynamic and evolving, not static. Attempting to represent or define a culture carries with it the risk of stereotyping or misrepresentation.

All departmental officers are to take responsibility for respecting diversity in practice, rather than delegating responsibility to people from 'other' cultures or lifestyles within the department.

Respecting diversity does not mean condoning or accepting experiences uncritically because they are culturally based. An inclusive service considers ways in which the abilities, strengths and interests of all children can be supported and extended.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented at all stages of the child protection system. The further that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children move through the child protection system, the higher the rates of over-representation. To reduce this over-representation a concerted whole of service system approach is necessary. This requires a collaborative approach to service delivery built on respect and recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities and services want to be active partners with the department.

Culturally appropriate, effective and timely services need to be provided in partnership with the recognised entities to ensure the safety and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children throughout Queensland.

In Queensland there are numerous discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with distinct cultural, social, economic and family identities. When planning for or deciding any intervention with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child and his or her family, the department must ensure that the recognised entity is consulted about the decision or action and given the opportunity to provide information about the child, the family, relationships, community connections, clan or language group, location and, when necessary, safe, compatible placement options that comply with the hierarchy of placements outlined in the child placement principle.

For further information about engaging with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities, refer to the practice paper Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (PDF).

The department also recognises the importance of preserving and enhancing a child's sense of identity and the significance of extended family, kinship arrangements, culture and community in raising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The child placement principle, as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 83, and the requirements in relation to recording and reviewing the cultural support plan, guide the decisions and actions of departmental staff when an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child is deemed to be in need of protection. For information about the purpose and requirements of the child placement principle, the roles and responsibilities and recording requirements for departmental staff, refer to the practice resource The child placement principle (PDF, 78 KB). For information about the purpose and requirements of the cultural support plan, the information to be recorded in the plan and recording and review requirements, refer to the practice resource Developing a cultural support plan for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child (PDF, 249 KB).

For information regarding key concepts that underpin departmental intervention with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the process for decision-making refer to Chapter 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

For a summary of the provisions within the Child Protection Act 1999 about services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and requirements for working collaboratively with the recognised entities, refer to the practice resource Legislative provisions in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and collaboration with recognised entities (PDF, File not found).

Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

The department recognises that Queensland is a culturally diverse state and works to protect children and young people of diverse cultural, linguistic, ethnic or religious backgrounds who have been harmed or who are at risk of harm.

This work is guided by specific provisions within the Child Protection Act 1999, including:

  • Child Protection Act 1999, section 5 (2)(d)(i) - Principles for administration of Act
  • Child Protection Act 1999, section 74 - Charter of rights for a child in care
  • Child Protection Act 1999, section 122 (1)(d) - Statement of standards.

For further information relevant to working with children and families, refer to practice paper Working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (PDF, 489 KB).

The Multicultural Policy and Action Plan outlines current and proposed activities to achieve key multicultural child protection outcomes and seeks to respond to the protective needs of children and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

The action plan's focus on improving the responsiveness of child protection services is inclusive of activities which aim to:

  • identify and support CALD child protection staff
  • recruit and promote services and support for CALD foster and kinship carers
  • collect and report on CALD data
  • establish partnerships and consultative mechanisms with CALD communities and stakeholders.

Further information

Additional information can be accessed via the following websites: