The Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi (GNL) Board with Minister Brad Hazzard and David Harris MP, at the launch of the partnership with Barnardos Australia.

A new partnership to ensure Aboriginal children in care remain connected to culture and country will has been launched today by the Minister for Family and Community Services, Brad Hazzard.

This partnership is the first of its kind on the Central Coast.

Minister Brad Hazzard, joined Chair of Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi (GNL), Rowena Lawrie and Barnardos CEO, Deirdre Cheers, along with Elders, community groups and local Members of Parliament, to launch the Gudjagang Darkinyung out-of-home care program.

The GNL and Barnardos partnership will work towards Gudjagang Darkinyung becoming a solely Aboriginal managed and operated out of home care service. The program is a culturally specific program for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

Chair of GNL, Rowena Lawrie said, “The cultural identity of our young people is vital to their wellbeing. We are here to ensure they remain connected to their families and country.

“The name of our organisation, Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi, means, ‘listen to the children.’ The children we support have an important role to play as part of the world’s oldest living culture. We are here to provide best-practice care for children in a culturally safe environment."

While GNL achieve their out of home care provider accreditation, Barnardos will support Aboriginal children and their carers with Aboriginal case workers, as guided by GNL. Along with the NSW Aboriginal Child, Family and Community State Secretariat (AbSec), the two agencies have signed a MOU which aims to achieve full independence for GNL within four years.

Barnardos CEO Deirdre Cheers said, “Barnardos is committed to Gudjagang Darkinyung becoming an independent Aboriginal service. We are thrilled to share our expertise on out of home care and we look forward to learning from Rowena and the team at GNL.”

“Children’s wellbeing is the foundation of everything we do at Barnardos. Barnardos is 100% committed to Aboriginal self-determination and fully supports independent Aboriginal agencies caring for Aboriginal children.”

Rowena Laurie added, “This partnership will allow us to support 27 children in need of out of home care for the current financial year. Since 2011 we have provided services to Aboriginal families, including kin care and foster care families.

“We are committed to supporting even more Aboriginal children learn more about their identity and connect with their culture. We are fulfilling a fundamental right that will ensure their spirit will thrive.”

About Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi

Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi is an Aboriginal agency on the Central Coast of NSW representing the Aboriginal communities that fall within the Local government areas of Wyong and Gosford. The Agency was established in 2011 by a group of local Aboriginal women who were concerned for the growing number of Aboriginal children from the area entering OOHC. These women were driven by a wish to provide care for those children within the context of their cultural community.

The name Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi is from the Darkinjung language and means ‘listen to the children’. This principle forms the basis of our core belief that Aboriginal children and young people need to be connected to their community and culture and to participate and contribute to their story.