An Australian-first pilot program into child protection investigations will be a "game-changer" for the sector, a Bendigo organisation says.
The Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative is one of two Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations leading the $11.6 million Victorian trial.
Minister for Child Protection Luke Donnellan said BDAC and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency would provide tailored and culturally-minded approaches to child protection alongside child protection officers.
Mr Donnellan said the aim of the pilot program was to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care by prioritising self-determination and facilitating Aboriginal models of care.
BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said trial would transform how Aboriginal organisations worked in child protection.
"It's really a game-changer for the sector," Ms Harradine said. "If children and families are involved in the child protection system, we usually see that they end up in youth justice and then the adult prison system.
"This will transform the way we work. If we can get there early, we can put systems in place so it doesn't get to the stage where children need to come into care.
"It's exciting that BDAC will be leading the way. It wouldn't happen at BDAC if we didn't have the right staff and systems in place."
Mr Donnellan said BDAC and VACCA were well-placed to determine if a child was in need of protection.
"By ensuring Aboriginal children are in Aboriginal care and continuing to transition case management to Aboriginal community organisations, we're helping kids remain connected with their community and country and supporting reunification with their families wherever possible," he said.
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Ms Harradine, who is also the chair of the Aboriginal Children and Young People's Alliance, said the pilot would tie in with BDAC's work in the Aboriginal family preservation and reunification space.
"When we work with children and families and they meet all of the requirements, we close off the case because they are no longer under child protection or BDAC," Ms Harradine said.
"Our closure rate is at 40 per cent, which is really significant. It's all about empowering the parents and guardians, and keeping kids safe and with their families."