Indigenous career pathway program helps keep children safe

Queensland Government media release

Seventeen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are well on their way to gaining university qualifications and becoming child safety officers (CSO) thanks to an innovative career pathway program for First Nations peoples.

Minister for Children and Youth Justice Leanne Linard said the Indigenous Career Progression Program (ICPP) was helping increase the number of First Nations child safety staff and providing more culturally appropriate support for families and children.

“The ICPP offers scholarships for departmental staff to get the right degree to become a CSO. They also offer cadetships to final year social work students and internships for students studying human services related courses,” Ms Linard said.

“Since the career pathway program began in 2015, we have supported more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to work towards the necessary university qualifications to find work on the frontline in child safety.”

A review of Queensland’s child protection system found that the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children could be better met by qualified First Nations staff with more culturally appropriate knowledge and understanding.

“I’m pleased to say that 24 qualified First Nations staff have been employed by our department thanks to the ICPP, and I hope more will follow in their footsteps in the future,” Ms Linard said.

“We currently have 17 First Nations peoples enrolled in the ICPP, including ten scholarship holders, two cadets and five students working as interns in child safety offices throughout the state.

“I’m sure these students will go on to make a positive difference in the lives of Queensland children and families.”

Since 2019, five internships have been offered each year, providing paid on-the-job training for university students studying CSO-related courses.

CSO Billie Mowett is the first intern to graduate as part of the program and is now working at the Maroochydore Child Safety Service Centre.

“The ICPP was instrumental in helping me finish my degree and find work in my chosen field,” Ms Mowett said.

“I always wanted to help First Nations families. This way I can use my lived experience and personal understanding to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and their parents,” she said.

“I hope I can encourage other First Nations people to work in the child safety or human services sector and help build stronger families and keep more children safe.”

The ICPP team are working on expanding the program to include youth justice career development pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.

For more information about the ICPP or to register your interest, please email [email protected]