Evaluation of Marram-Ngala Ganbu
Marram-Ngala Ganbu (‘we are one’ in the Woiwurrung language) is an innovative response to the over-representation of Aboriginal children and families in the Victorian child protection system. The pilot program, launched in 2016, aims to improve outcomes for Koori children and families involved in child protection proceedings, seeking to provide a more effective, culturally appropriate, and just response for Koori families.
In 2019, the Children’s Court of Victoria commissioned an independent evaluation (click here to read), led by Professer Kerry Arabena, a proud Meriam woman, together with SVA Consulting, and Dr Wendy Bunston. The evaluation aimed to assess the performance of the court against its stated aims, and build the evidence base to support the future expansion of the program. The evaluation identified sufficient evidence that Marram-Ngala Ganbu is achieving its intended short- to medium-term outcomes, and is on-track to deliver the desired long-term outcomes.
Learn the story behind the evaluation in the SVA Quarterly article, A step towards First Nations justice in child protection.
In 2019, the Children’s Court of Victoria commissioned an independent evaluation to assess the performance of the court against its stated aims, and build the evidence base to support the future expansion of the program.
This evaluation sought to document the delivery model of Marram-Ngala Ganbu, and to understand the impact that the program is having for Koori families and on the broader child protection system. In taking on the work, SVA wanted also to prioritise the voice of Koori families who had experience of the program, and ensure other Aboriginal perspectives on the program were front and centre.
The role we played
In conjunction with the Children’s Court of Victoria, SVA Consulting conducted an independent evaluation of Marram-Ngala Ganbu, through which we:
- Brought together a team led by Professor Kerry Arabena (a proud Meriam woman), and Wendy Bunston Consulting to ensure the evaluation was Indigenous-led and informed by up-to-date knowledge in the fields of Indigenous evaluation and child-led practice
- Attained ethics approval from the Department of Justice and Community Safety Human Research Ethics Committee, in order to engage directly with families involved in the program
- Interviewed key stakeholders and Koori families to understand and document the key activities and core concepts that form the Marram-Ngala Ganbu model
- Evaluated the short-term outcomes being achieved by the program, including encouraging Koori families to attend child protection court hearings, and explored how the model has helped achieve these
- Identified emerging indications that the program is having transformative long term impacts on the lives on Koori families by keeping families together and achieving outcomes that are in the best interests of Koori children
The evaluation found the program is providing a more effective, culturally appropriate and just response for Koori families through an adapted court process, that enables greater participation by family members and more culturally-informed decision-making. It has transformed the court experience for Koori children and families and is leading to more families staying together.
The evaluation has also been a welcome contribution to the scant literature and evidence about what works in improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in child protection in Australia and internationally. It has contributed to the case for the expansion of the program in Victoria, and informed the adoption of a similar program in Western Australia.