Clarisse and Laticha are sisters at primary school in Darwin. Two years ago, they were removed from their parent’s care and placed into an out of home care foster care placement by Territory families. Laticha and Clarisse’s parents love them but were having challenges in their relationship because of substance misuse and weren’t coping with these issues and caring for their daughters.
The girls have lost connection to their family
Laticha and Clarisse are placed with capable and caring foster cares and all their basic needs are met, but the girls are missing their family and have lost touch with their older sister Mari who was like a mum to them. They also miss their Aunty and heard she is sick and are worried she is going to die and want to be near her.
As the girls get used to life with their carers, they’ve started to feel they are forgetting their language and they don’t know where they belong anymore.
Minbani Bebe program helps the girls to find their family
Territory Families referred the girls to Larrakia Nation’s Family Finding and Kinship program Minbani Bebe, to help in finding ways to reconnect the girls to family, their community and their culture.
The main goal of Minbani Bebe’s work has been to try and find a family member to take on the care of Clarisse and Laticha either part time or full time.
The team at Minbani Bebe familiarised themselves with the children’s health and educational needs and any other information that might be relevant to Clarisse and Laticha’s care.
Once the Minbani Bebe team had a good understanding of the girl’s circumstances, they arranged a met up with their parents and explained the program. They asked the parents for their help to find out about the whole family and invite family who are important to the girls and want to be a part of their lives.
Finding safe family connections
The parents were able to help Minbani Bebe connect with other family members and the team were able to arrange a family meeting. Some of the family were reluctant to meet at first because there has been some history of conflict in the family.
But the team at Minbani Bebe were able to speak with the family and help with the meeting. They all met at Aunty’s place and sat in the back yard to talk.
Mari came, and the girl’s mum and Aunty was there of course. The girl’s uncle on their dad’s side was there too with their aunty. Minbani Bebe asked the family to talk about who would be the best person to help care for the girls.
Family want to help but can’t care fulltime
There was a long discussion about this because even though people wanted to help, some family couldn’t be fulltime carers. Aunty is too sick, and Mari is too busy with work and being a single mum to her own children and she isn’t sure where she’s going to be living in the future. The brother and his wife are also busy with their own children and their house it too full with family. The mother agreed she can’t look after the girls until she gets her life straightened out.
Shared care is an option
But after talking with Minbani Bebe they realised they can share the care and support each other. Once they understood that care could be full time, part time or shared, everyone was much more willing to talk about how they could be involved.
It made it easier knowing Minbani Bebe would be there to support them to create a good plan for the girls and help them to set up the plan with Territory Families.
The family had other meetings without the Minbani Bebe team there so they could talk more openly about the family issues and how to make sure the girls were protected but could still learn their culture and know their family.
Choosing family members to connect with
Minbani Bebe asked the family to choose family members that are safe for the girls and willing to teach them and be a connection for them. They also talked about the girl’s needs and how to keep them healthy and safe.
They talked about all the different aspects of raising the girls – not just while the girls are small, but for their whole life. A person who the girls can go to when they need to feel to connected to their kin and culture.
Mari wants to be involved in the girl’s life
Everyone agreed it was Mari. She is a strong woman who will take good care of the girls. Mari also agreed she would like to be the lifelong connection for the girls and could take care of the girls.
Aunty said she would like to be a carer too, when she’s not too sick the girls could come and stay with her, and the uncle said he could take the girls back to their father’s country when there was important family business.
With everyone willing to help out the family were confident that they would be able to manage.
Minbani Bebe are awesome at paperwork!
The paperwork to tell Territory Families about their plan was huge, but they got through it because the team at Minbani Bebe are good at doing paperwork!
The team at Minbani Bebe did the carer assessment with Mari and Aunty, it took a few meetings where they yarned about family stories and caring for kids. The family, Minbani Bebe and Territory families are working together to arrange visits and begin the process of the girls returning to live with family.
The girls are happy to have connection again
Clarrisse and Laticha are still living with the same carers during the transition back family. The girls are building more connection with their family and aren’t as worried about losing their culture. They love their sister Mari and aren’t as scared about Aunty’s sickness. The girls are happy to be connected to family again.