Institutional crossover means a (settler colonial) system: Rubini Ball, Susan Baidawi, ‘Aboriginal crossover children’s characteristics, service needs and service responses: The views of Australian key stakeholders’, Children and Youth Services Review, 2021


Abstract: Background: The disproportionately high number of Aboriginal crossover children traversing child protection and youth justice systems is a longstanding concern across countries with historic legacies of settler-colonialism. Aims: This study explored what key stakeholders who directly work with Aboriginal crossover children perceive are the unique characteristics and service needs of this group, and explored their views of current service system responses for Aboriginal crossover children. Methods: Twenty-five semi-structured consultations were conducted with judicial officers (magistrates and judges), police prosecutors and officers, lawyers, child protection youth justice and education professionals, child and family mental health clinicians, and representatives from non-government agencies working with crossover children in South Eastern Australia. Three out of the sample of 82 participants identified as Aboriginal. Findings: Thematic analysis revealed that key stakeholders noted substantial social disadvantage, maltreatment, and household adversity among Aboriginal crossover children, alongside systemic barriers to cultural connection and cultural identity development, and the impact of intergenerational trauma for this group. Deficient child protection responses were often strongly emphasised, however findings demonstrated considerable disagreement among key stakeholders regarding the nature of Aboriginal crossover children’s service needs, and what might constitute effective responses to these. This study highlights the need for a common understanding and frameworks among service providers working collaboratively to support Aboriginal crossover children.

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