Aboriginal Cultural Safety: A Case Study of Collaborative Practice at the Intersection of Family Violence and Child Protection

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There has been little research into what enables culturally safe collaboration between Aboriginal services and statutory child protection organisations, particularly when family violence is a concern. This article reports on a qualitative study that analysed working group data from practice between KWY Family Safety Services and the Department for Child Protection, South Australia, who came together to build culturally safe collaboration when working with Aboriginal families. The study found that when methods are put into place to deliberately make visible the power dynamics within this context, space for the development of meaningful collaboration with Aboriginal services become possible. However, open and regular communication to raise and work through issues of power as they arose was continually needed to ensure both agencies had the same information and decision making was shared. The implication for practice is that openness to work differently by statutory child protection was reinforced through respect for Aboriginal practice and strengths. IMPLICATIONS Collaboration between Aboriginal services and child protection organisations can be complex and challenging, especially due to the historical and continued discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people. Culturally safe collaboration is enabled through building sustainable relationships; shared understandings and accountability between agencies; redressing of unequal relationships, structures, and outcomes; and respect for Aboriginal ways of working.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Aboriginal Social Work Practice
  • Aboriginal Strengths
  • Respect
  • Meaningful Collaboration
  • Aboriginal Services
  • South Australia
  • Aboriginal People
  • Child Protection
  • Decolonisation
  • Aboriginal Children
  • Cultural Safety
  • Culturally Safe Social Work
  • Family Violence
  • Aboriginal Peoples


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