How they were developed

‘WINANGAY Resources – The resource development process

In 2010 a group of passionate people, who were distressed by the number of Aboriginal children in Out-of-Home Care and the lack of support for many kinship carers, had a number of conversations about how to make a difference.

Those conversations began a journey that led to the establishment of Winangay Resources and the development of a range of new and innovative resources designed to change things and bring better outcomes for Aboriginal kids and families.

The first tool developed was an assessment tool for existing kinship carers. The assessment tool was culturally appropriate, strength based and rests on a strong foundation of Australian and international research. It was developed to assess and support existing kinship carers. Through a series of interviews it identifies carer strengths, concerns and unmet needs.

This page describes the development journey for that original tool.

Some members of the Aboriginal Reference Group

The tool was developed by a small team who were deeply concerned about the number of Aboriginal children in Out-of-Home Care and the lack of support for many kinship carers. The team was headed by Aunty Sue Blacklock and included both Paula Hayden and Gillian Bonser with support from Karen Menzies and Flic Ryan.


The project team worked collaboratively with an Aboriginal industry reference group of OOHC workers, ABSEC, and the NSW Children’s Guardian.

After a validation meeting in Sydney, January 2011

After a validation meeting in Sydney, January 2011 From left to right: Professor and Chair of Child Protection Marianne Berry, Aunty Sue Blacklock, Paula Hayden, Seated: Gillian Bonser

It also benefitted from the support of a number of key academics (including Dr Marilyn McHugh (UNSW) and Professor and Chair of Child Protection Marianne Berry – from the Australian Centre for Child Protection). 

 Why was the tool developed?

Kinship care is a culturally appropriate form of care and is part of the Aboriginal way. Many Aboriginal kinship carers have complex needs and face competing challenges with a lack of adequate support services. Existing assessment tools did not meet Aboriginal kinship carer’s needs. Many were designed for foster carers not kinship carers others were not culturally appropriate. This tool has been developed for existing carers, a tool for new kinship carers is under development.

Steps in the process

The resources include plain English questions in a flexible and informal format for conversational interviews with existing kinship carers. The layout and approach is culturally appropriate, respectful and empowering for Aboriginal carers and communities.

After the relationship is established a series of pictorial cards are used to rate strengths and concerns and develop a joint action plan to support the family and improve outcomes for Aboriginal children.

As Gillian Bonser said “They are easy to use and engaging …and the ratings can be repeated at key milestones to document changes in the family”.

 The Cards are visually appealing and fun.  

Aunty Sue demonstrating the cards to the Aboriginal Reference Group

Each card focuses on a key factor identified by the research and practice wisdom as key to successful outcomes for Aboriginal kids and kinship carers.  They allow carers to identify their strengths and areas of concern and place them on a continuum from real concern to deadly strength. This forms the foundation of a joint action plan by visually displaying key areas of unmet needs and prioritizing concerns that need to be urgently addressed.

 The Pilot

The resources were piloted in a number of locations in Australia. It involved Aboriginal workers using the tool with existing Aboriginal kinship carers. Pilot participants underwent 2 days of training in using the tool and then returned to their communities to use the resource for 12 weeks before they provided feedback, suggestions and comments on the tool.

The pilot was originally intended to operate with 4 services in NSW. However the interest in the tool was so strong and extensive that we also trained workers from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, and ACT wishing to join the original pilot group. Two pilot training sessions were conducted and 30 workers from 18 different locations were trained. 

These sites covered a range of Aboriginal nations, as well as diverse geographical sites including remote locations like the Kimberley, rural locations like Casino NSW and city locations including Sydney and Brisbane. This resulted in a breadth of information about cultural appropriateness and information about changes and additional material that was required.

As expected the pilot provided information and confirmed the usefulness of the tool as well as resulting in suggestions for improvement and refinement. It also provided information on the needs of kinship carers and their priorities for support. Following the pilot we compiled the feedback, refined the resources and produced a report.

Feedback was gathered from pilot participants through discussions at focus groups and through an evaluation feedback form. The feedback form required people to circle words they felt best described the tool. The words were a mix of positive and negative descriptors. 

The top 10 words used to describe the resource were:

  1. culturally appropriate
  2. practical
  3. easy to use
  4. empowering
  5. respectful
  6. creative
  7. deadly
  8. clear
  9. useful
  10. participatory

The feedback form also asked people “What was your overall impressions of WINANGAY and the WINANGAY resource?” responses included:

  • It is an innovative and practical resource
  • It’s the way we should be doing things
  • Extremely sensitive to cultural needs, leading to better outcomes for children and families
  • Excellent resource very culturally appropriate
  • Deadly respectful and empowering

The refinements to the resource following the pilot involved restructuring the sessions and aligning them with the cards as well as adding several new cards. The new sessions are:

  • Environment and meeting needs (13 cards)
  • Staying Strong as a Carer (7 cards)
  • Growing our Kids Strong (10 cards)
  • Safety & Working Well with Others (8 cards)

The final resource is culturally appropriate and visually engaging. The format of the resource is deliberately informal and uses earthy colours and Aboriginal graphics and images. The questions are in plain English and flow together to encourage conversations. It can be used to monitor and review changes in the family over time.

The launch

Following refinements from the pilot the resources were launched by Dawn Wallam Chair of SNAICC on the 18th November 2011 at the national kinship forum in Redfern NSW at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Dr Marilyn McHugh read a foreword to the resources by Professor Marianne Berry, the Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection, South Australia.

Paula Hayden emceed the launch while Karen Menzies, Aunty Susie and Gillian Bonser explained the context and use of the resource. They were joined by a number of friends of Winangay including Linda Burnie and Noni Greenwood who talked about the resource and the importance of changing things for Aboriginal kids and families.

The launch was very successful and the resource received a standing ovation. Stories of the launch appeared in the Koori Mail and the National Indigenous Times and a short story on NITV featured Aunty Sue Blacklock and Gillian Bonser talking about the launch.

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