It is important to remember the power practitioners hold when working with vulnerable children and families, particularly when children have been assessed as children in need of protection and a care arrangement is required to ensure their safety. Engaging in reflective practice either in supervision or with peers is one way practitioners can ensure they are using their authority in the best interests of children. (Refer to the practice guide Power, privilege and use of self in child protection.)
Watch the following short video to further understand power, privilege and oppression.
Consider times when you may have experienced someone using their privilege regarding a decision or action that impacted on you. How did you feel? What did you do to feel safe at that time?
How can you take your experience and use it to inform your engagement with families?
Working with and across difference
The process of recognising, understanding, and appreciating our own cultural heritage and cultures other than our own is outlined in the following chart: A Working Conceptualisation of Historically & Currently Excluded (Target) and Included (Non-Target) Groups in Australia (produced by VISIONS Inc., 2015). The chart is not presented as definitive, authoritative or ‘the right or only way’, but rather as a meaningful starting point and reference point for a common language and approach to discussion.
When reading the chart, consider how children, young people, parents and carers who may fit within one or more of these groups may interact with you when you are exercising your legislated power.
Think about how the following e types of oppressions/exclusions affect children and young people in care?
What are some factors to be mindful of and how can you bridge the gap to ensure our children’s and young people’s care arrangements meet their safety, wellbeing and belonging needs, despite any point of difference?
A Working Conceptualisation of Historically & Currently Excluded (Target) and Included (Non-Target) Groups in Australia
|Types of oppression
|Privilege/ included groups (non-target)
|Oppressed/ excluded groups (target)
Aboriginal, Torres Strait IslanderSouth Sea Islander, Pacific Islander, African, Asian, Greek, Italian, Lebanese
|Middle, upper class
|Poor, working class
|Gender identity/ Gender expression
|Cisgender (appearance and behaviors are congruent with the gender binary (male/female) system)
|Transgender, Gender non-conforming, Gender queer, Androgynous
HeterosexualsChristians such as Anglican, Protestants, Catholics
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual [attraction to people regardless of their sex], Asexual, Queer, QuestioningMuslim, Jewish, Agnostic, Hindu, Atheist, Buddhist, Spiritual, Mormon, Pagan, Jehovah’s Witness, Lutheran & others
|World War I & II veterans
|Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Pacifists
|Physical, mental, emotional, learning ability
|People with a physical, psychiatric, intellectual, neurological, sensory, emotional and/or learning disability
Immigrants, Refugees, New Australians
English as a Second LanguageNon-English, Deaf people
In considering the chart, what groups do you belong to and what groups might children, young people and parents?
Based on your reflections, how much difference is there, and what can you do to bridge the gap in your practice with children, young people, families and carers?
What lenses do you look through each day, and how does this influence what you see and what you do? How does this influence your engagement with children, young people and carers?
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Terminology change - placement to care arrangement