Upholding Cultural Connection for Children in Out-of-Home Care

A positive sense of cultural identity is critical to wellbeing, yet children in out-of-home care often lose their cultural identities and connections. There is little evidence to guide out-of-home care agencies to support a culturally meaningful foster care placement for non-Indigenous culturally and linguistically diverse children. This project tests promising practices identified by the partner organisations and research literature to produce an exemplary model of cultural care, with input from children, carers and birth families.

Trial implementation in the partner organisations will inform guidelines and recommendations so that the model can inform policy and practice in out of-home care across Australia.


To conduct a national review of current policy and practice as this relates to providing culturally safe and supportive care environments for non-Indigenous culturally diverse children in OOHC.

To understand experiences of current practices and policies from the perspectives of service workers, children, carers and birth family members, and seek their reflections on the strengths and limitations of current models of care.

To conduct in-depth case study examination of practice approaches that, based on practice wisdom and limited research evidence, are viewed as essential elements in supporting the cultural identity and connection of children in care, including: Cultural Care Planning; Cultural Mentoring Prgorams and Life Story Work programs.

To explore the barriers for culturally diverse members of the general population to becoming foster carers. This research will inform the development of strategies to expand the pool of foster carers available, thereby increasing the opportunity to match culturally diverse children with culturally similar carers.

To develop an exemplary module of cultural care for children in OOHC, including evidence-based programs and practices and to manualise the model to support high quality implementation across Australia.

To examine the implementation feasibility of the new practice model across three different sites, giving focus to the following elements of implantation: need, fit, resources, readiness and capacity.

To involve all stakeholders in all aspects of this research, including the often silenced voices of young children and birth family members.

Investing in the wellbeing of children in care is of critical national importance. These children are amongst the most marginalised and are at risk of poor life outcomes. Cultural disconnection further compounds this vulnerability. Cultural connection is crucial to supporting positive outcomes, and is a human right. There is a dearth of research to guide culturally supportive practice in OOHC. This study aligns with the National Science and Research Priority of Health: Practical Research Challenge 1 which speaks to the importance of developing better service models that improve outcomes and reduce disparities for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

Australian OOHC services are currently in an era of significant reform. It is essential that high quality research is available to inform the national conversation. This study will be the first in Australia to include the voices of all stakeholders as this relates to culturally safe care environments, including young children and birth family members. It will also be the first to address the barriers for culturally diverse families to becoming foster carers.