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JK Diversity Consultants is In the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 24th November 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> November -> JK Diversity Consultants is In the Spotlight

JK Diversity Consultants specialise in working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. Director, Jatinder Kaur, has been actively involved in advocating for the needs of CALD children, families and communities for well over a decade. These endeavours extend beyond Queensland to other states and territories of Australia. This advocacy has included supporting the needs of CALD children to be recognised in key social policy initiatives led by the Commonwealth government and involve JK Diversity Consultants being a member of taskforces such as: ARACY Early Childhood Development Reference group and the National Framework for Protecting Children ‘Common Approach to Assessment, Referral and Support (CAARS) Taskforce. The purpose and vision of JK Diversity Consultants is to bridge the gap between multicultural issues and mainstream government and non-government agencies across Australia.

JK Diversity Consultants provide training to government and non-government organisations across Australia on various topics pertaining to child protection and child and family wellbeing. These include: culturally sensitive practice and domestic and family violence training alongside a multitude of other opportunities offered to practitioners and policy makers. They also engage in the preparation and writing of submissions and proposals, providing expert opinion as well as also developing policy guidelines. Developing culturally appropriate support plans to assist the wellbeing of children and young people in out of home care is also a significant function undertaken by JK Diversity Consultants, as is the recruitment and training of suitable foster carers.

Jatinder’s passion for child protection has been long standing: “So I am a Social Worker and social justice and being an independent advocate for migrant and refugee communities is my key focus and passion. In 2007, my first exploratory research study which examined ‘Cultural competence of Child Protection officers employed in Queensland’ identified that ‘entry level child protection officers working in the Queensland child protection system did not receive adequate training and knowledge for working with CALD families’ (Kaur, 2007, p23). Since 2011, one of the key focus areas has been delivering training to professionals employed in the child and family welfare sector. In 2016, I have delivered 100 training workshops across a number of citiesin Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia with up to 1000 people trained including professionals from child welfare, police, education, mental health, lawyers, and foster and kinship carers. The topics for training have included: child and family welfare and working with migrant and refugee families, mental health across diverse cultures, understanding domestic violence across diverse communities, elder abuse and working with interpreters. I am passionate about culturally responsive practice and building the sector and professionals to be confident in working with migrant and refugee communities”.

Jatinder has extensive experience in policy development, consultation and preparing briefs for Government Ministers through various previous roles within the Queensland Government pertaining to policy, publications and projects. Expanding on this prior work, JK Diversity Consultants also offer policy, research and evaluation services and assessments. Their services extend also to businesses and community groups.

In reflecting upon the changes she’s seen post the Carmody Report and the initial implementations, Jatinder is clear about the impact of this reform work and the needs of the sector: “The non-government organisations have been more willing to engage in the up-skilling of their staff. I would love to train more frontline child protection officers. I believe we are still in an early phase of gaining a better understanding of the need for focussed investment in professional development of these officers in cross cultural awareness skills and competency and then acting on this need. There is also a need to keep evaluating various service models for different regions and client groups so that we do start to see a shift in trajectory, that being a decline in the number of children and young people coming into out of home care.”

Jatinder considers that the Queensland child safety system has historically suffered from being ‘culturally blind’ and more work needs to be done in reporting on CALD families who come to the attention of child protection services to inform the development of improved service responses tailored to their needs. “Queensland does not yet publish the number of CALD children and young people living in out of home care or who are the subject of child protection orders. With over 25% of the Queensland population possessing an overseas background and a predominantly ‘white workforce’ employed within both government and most non-government agencies delivering child protection related services, this poses obvious challenges in ensuring that ‘cultural blindness’ does not impact decision-making and ways in which services are being designed and provided.

Jatinder asserts that there is a need for vigilance in challenging endemic institutionalised racism. She argues that mistakes made during the era of the Stolen Generations must never be forgotten and the lessons learned about the need for preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s connections with family, community and culture are invaluable ones that should also inform our understandings about the needs of CALD children and their families. In applauding and supporting the advocacy being provided by the national Family Matters: Strong communities, Strong Culture, Stronger children campaign, she argues the need for similar strong advocacy for CALD children and families, “Who is advocating for their voice in the child protection reform process?”

Jatinder recently spoke at the Brisbane Recognise function. She stated she considered it an honour to be the guest speaker on the Recognise Panel discussion as part of the campaign to recognise Aboriginal people in the Australian Constitution. She shared her experiences as a Social Worker and Sikh migrant of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the need to address racism that exists within the context of discussing reconciliation.

In 2014 JK Diversity Consultants developed and prepared Culturally Sensitive Practice in Out of Home Care, a Good Practice Guide to Support Children and Young People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds in Out of Home Care. This resource was produced with the support of Life Without Barriers, Key Assets and PeakCare Queensland.

As part of her Masters research, Jatinder explored cross cultural competence for child protection workers and their engagement with families from CALD backgrounds. She designed and developed the Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS), an assessment tool that provides organisations with evidence-based information on the training and professional development needs of frontline child protection workers. This research was the first of its kind to be conducted in Australia.

She has presented her research findings at national and international conferences and has written two research papers which are published in Australian peer reviewed journals: Children Australia (32:4, 2007) and Developing Practice (Issue 23, 2009). Jatinder also prepared a review of the Australian research on the needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and refugee children and families in 2012. This paper was the first publication of its kind to review the available research literature on CALD and refugee families in the Australian child protection system. This review identified 13 publications describing Australian research completed between 1996 and June 2012. The publication reviewed all of the available Australian research evidence to establish ‘baseline knowledge’ for policymakers, practitioners and researchers.

Jatinder has made various submissions to child protection inquiries in Queensland and Victoria; the Senate Inquiry into Out of Home Care and the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “They all make significant recommendations. The greater challenge usually lies in monitoring the implementation of those recommendations across the range of government departments that carry responsibilities for their implementation and ensuring that the intentions of the recommendations are understood and acted upon” she said.

Jatinder is clear that in the Queensland context we have achieved a great deal in child protection in recent years since the completion of the Carmody Child Protection Commission of Inquiry in 2013. She also argues that there is much more to be done, especially with regard to achieving a better understanding and responses to the cultural needs of children, young people and families. This is what drives Jatinder to continue working in this sphere with professionals, community members, children and families to enhance their capacity to work and thrive within culture.

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