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- Tuesday, 5th May 2020 -

A few weeks ago, Nathan Morris, an ABC journalist, was prompted by the death of a child who had been missing for four years before her body was discovered, to write an article featuring commentary by PeakCare’s Lindsay Wegener. Whilst electing to not comment on the circumstances of this child’s death, Lindsay did respond to Nathan’s questions about, “How does a community lose track of a child for this long?”

A few snippets of Lindsay’s response to this question included the following:

  • If the parents are quite isolated, those children can also become isolated and very hidden.
  • If they have no income, they can’t pay the rent, they’ve been evicted from their home, they’re already isolated from a community or from a family, then they’re going to struggle both looking after themselves as well as looking after children.
  • If you're not connected, you don't feel like you've got a belonging. If you don't feel like you're a member of this society and valued in the way that other people are valued, then you're not going to seek that help — you're going to stay hidden.

To read the complete article, click here.

The article was published in the B.C. era (i.e. Before Coronavirus), but it is perhaps now, more than ever, timely to reflect on what happens when children and their families become hidden and out of sight – hopefully, not out of mind. Read more to find out why.

Family contact and leaving home for essential purposes for children and young people in care during COVID-19

Many children and young people in care are concerned about how current government restrictions on movement will affect their rights to see family. Queensland government directions for restricted movement in the current conditions specify that children under 18 years who do not live in the same household as one or more biological parents or siblings can continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children and siblings, but are not allowed access or contact with vulnerable groups or persons. An example of a vulnerable group or person includes a person over 70 years or a person with a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19.
 
For those living with disability, directions specify where a person requires physical assistance to leave their principal place of residence or it is reasonably necessary for the safety of the person or the public, and there is no other reasonable way for an essential purpose to be achieved, a person may be accompanied by more than one person who is not a member of their household and who is a carer or support worker for that person. Therefore, a person with a disability may be accompanied by more than one carer or support worker.

Find out more at Queensland Health or visit the Department of Child Safety website. And refer to the latest Child Safety Director-General’s COVID-19 Update released on 30th, which includes Queensland Health advice on revised restrictions, FAQ, and more, in the PeakCare Special Announcement released 1st May.

 

Preparing young people to leave care during COVID-19

Child Family Community Australia (CFCA)'s free upcoming webinar on Wednesday, 27th May will focus on  the important topic of how to support young people leaving care during COVID-19 with the additional challenges caused by the pandemic. This webinar will reflect on past CFCA presentations and current responses, and will discuss strategies to strengthen young people’s social capital and improve their social and emotional wellbeing. This webinar is of interest to policy makers and practitioners working with young people across a range of sectors, including out-of-home care, aftercare, mental health, education, employment, homelessness and housing. Find out more and register.
 

CREATE initiatives to support children during COVID-19

CREATE is producing a series of short animations targeted at children in out-of-home care about COVID-19 in which CREATE's mascot Gus explains what's happening with Coronavirus to children aged 5-12 years in a fun and interesting way. The first episode explains what coronavirus is, the second episode explains social distancing, the third episode is especially for kids in residential care, and more episodes are due to be released in the coming weeks. CREATE has also released a series of video tutorials with fun craft projects for children and young people, including a rainbow unicorn, a bunny, a fun flamingo, a pinata, paper flowers, and more. The CREATE website also has an FAQ section for young people under 18 years of age in residential care who may have concerns about what coronavirus is and how it could affect them. 

CREATE also invites children and young people to submit questions they have about COVID-19 and impacts on the care system at the CREATE Instagram page. Questions have already been posted about how young people can receive assistance that they usually receive in person, and tips about maintaining good mental health during isolation. 


QFCC 2020 feedback survey now open

A key input to the work of the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC)'s work is regular surveys of the frontline service delivery workforce in the child protection and family support system. The findings of the 2019 survey are now available to access as a videosummary report and full report. The 2020 survey can be accessed online until Friday, 15th May and all workers who provide frontline services to children, young people and families are encouraged to have their say on how the system is working, including issues such as referral pathways, information sharing and collaboration, and where improvements need to be made. Findings will inform efforts to  improve the system and achieve positive outcomes for Queensland’s children, young people and families. For questions, contact Executive Director Penny Creamer at penny.creamer@qfcc.qld.gov.au or on 3900 6009.

 

NDIA responses to COVID-19

Most NDIA offices remain open, however social distancing measures will be in place for staff and visitors. Current and potential participants can contact NDIA by phone, email or webchat which is considered the safest way to deliver new plans and plan reviews. If participants would like to continue to visit an NDIS office, they can do so. Some NDIA Partner offices are closed. See the NDIS website for latest office operations. If a plan is due to end soon, the NDIA, LAC or ECEI Partner will contact the participant by phone to undertake plan review. As part of this plan review process, NDIA will discuss the option of having a plan in place for up to 24 months. To ensure NDIS plans don’t reach their end date, if participants have not had a plan review meeting before the day their plan is due to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 12 months. New resources to support participants and providers include: general advice for participants on their circumstances on the what happens when page, an easy English translation of the new measures to support participants and providers, priority home delivery codes for participants, updated FAQs, and detailed advice for providers.


COVID-19 community health sector grants available

Grants to support Queensland community health groups respond to COVID-19 pressures are now available. Priorities include supports for community mental health services, existing Queensland Health funded specialist alcohol and other drug providers, health care providers delivering services in rural, remote and First Nations communities, existing residential-based community health services such as community palliative care, to mobilise effectively and utilise telehealth and associated technologies to deliver services in the context of added COVID-19 pressures and potential health declines in vulnerable populations. To be eligible, the service provider must be a legal entity and be able to provide proof. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, phone 07 3006 2815, email CSFB_RFO@health.qld.gov.au or visit the website.

Please note applications for the small grants program to help local organisations host Queensland Mental Health Week (10th-18th October) activities have been delayed until 1st June.


How to approach staff and volunteers who may have poor mental health during COVID-19 lockdowns

What are the signs that a staff member might be going through a mental health challenge? And  what can managers and supervisors at non-profits do to support them through it? Marian Spencer, Head of Operations - People and Culture at Black Dog Institute, has shared advice on supporting staff and volunteers who may be struggling with mental health challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. She advises "workplaces should aim to create a culture in which disclosure and help seeking are welcomed and supported" and that organisations should develop mental health and wellbeing policies to help keep staff connected to the workplace, which can support their recovery. Read more


Family Matters National Week of Action postponed to November

The National Week of Action for the Family Matters campaign is held annually to raise awareness of the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to raise children safely connected to family, community and culture in the face of the alarmingly disproportionate rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are subject to child protection intervention. This year the National Week of Action, due to run in May, has been postponed to November to coincide with the release of this year's Family Matters Report. For more details, contact SNAICC by phone on (03) 9419 1921 or by email to familymatters@snaicc.org.au.


Free introductory Human Rights Act webinars

The Queensland Human Rights Commission is offering free introductory training on discrimination and human rights law with one-hour webinars to help everyone understand their rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Act. Topics include compliance, complaints handling, reducing risk, and contributing to creating fair and productive workplaces, and more. Find out more and register.


Social justice small grants available

The Mercy Foundation’s Social Justice Small Grants Program provides seed funding to assist communities and organisations to build capacity that will help create structural change and bring about greater social justice in Australia. The focus for 2020 is “Justice in the Digital World”. This includes projects that provide access to the digital world for people who are currently excluded, protect vulnerable groups from being exploited online, promote genuine human encounters in online neighbourhoods, address social exclusion issues, and cyberbullying. Applications close Monday, 27th April. Find out more and apply.

 

Legislative protections announced for renters

The Queensland government has announced legislative protections for residential and commercial tenants due to be finalised in late April in light of COVID-19 impacts on the economy. For residential tenants, protections include: preventing evictions for the next six months; supporting reasonable rent reductions where incomes has been impacted by COVID-19, protecting renters from accruing crippling debts during a dispute; improved safety and security for those experiencing domestic or family violence; and, financial support for the payment of rent for those in economic hardship of up to four weeks rent. View more on the Make Renting Fair website and the Queensland Treasury information sheet. Tenants Queensland has also developed an information pack for renters, including international students and those in sharehouses, affected by COVID-19, about their rights, and how to broach negotiations with lessors and agents. 
 

The latest advice on managing concerns around COVID-19 

Keep yourself updated with the latest information on the pandemic by accessing PeakCare's COVID-19 Resource page. The page contains a host of useful resources including advice all foster and kinship carers should be made aware of, essential information for residential care providers and workers, how carers and parents can approach speaking with children about the virus, where organisations can reference instruction on workforce issues, as well as practical advice on health and hygiene. To ensure you receive the latest updates without delay, subscribe to eNews by replying SUBSCRIBE ME to this email.

Also regularly visit the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women website to check new and updated information as it is posted including responses to Frequently Asked Questions by Carers and by non-government service providers.

Introduction to the Nurtured Heart Approach
Brisbane - Monday, 20th July
Presented by Lighthouse Resources

The Nurtured Heart Approach is a simple framework which nurtures and grows a child’s positive sense of self. All children who have been introduced to this approach flourish and learn to appreciate what is great about them. This workshop will encourage participants to change the way we look at challenging behaviours and increase awareness and understanding of relationships. Through an introduction to the Nurtured Heart Approach, the workshop will provide powerful tools to improve not only how children and young people views themselves, but also the world around them, so they can embrace themselves and embrace life. Find out more and register.
 

Platform 1225 2020: Truth, advocacy and systemic reform
Brisbane - Tuesday, 17th November
Presented by Queensland Youth Housing Coalition 

Comedian and author Corey White has been announced to headline and MC QYHC's annual forum Platform 1225. Corey joins advocates, academics, young people and practitioners who are committed to social justice, including Dr Lindy Annakin, lead writer of the out-of-home care chapter of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and researcher on whistleblowing in the public interest; Dr Alistair Ping, Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology’s Graduate School of Business; and Dr Kristy Muir, CEO of the Centre for Social Impact and a Professor of Social Policy at UNSW Sydney Business School. A panel of young people will speak to their lived experience on issues affecting their communities, including Lane Brooks, a 23 year-old Mandandanji man who is passionate about enacting change. Presentations will consider what can be done today to make sure the previous patterns of history are not repeated, and how to ensure ethical practice remains a key focus for organisations and government. Find out more and register.


Key Skills in Family Therapy
Brisbane - Thursday, 26th to Friday, 27th November

Presented by Compass Seminars

This two-day workshop is aimed at practitioners who work with children, young people, adults, couples, families, and/or organisations supporting clients with mental health issues. This workshop aims to introduce participants to core Family Therapy concepts and broaden practitioners understanding of how to view “the client’s problem”, as well as provide practical skills and interventions for use with the client groups with which they work, built on theoretical constructs from systemic, structural, solution focused and narrative family therapy models to teach core thinking and interviewing skills in family therapy. Find out more and register.

Community Facilitator (part time) - CREATE Queensland

The CREATE Foundation Queensland is recruiting a 4 day per week Community Facilitator for a fixed term of 3 months. The role is responsible for connecting with vulnerable children and young people with a care experience to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. This role will provide information and referral pathways and connect vulnerable children and young people to each other via remote or digital means. The successful applicant must have a relevant undergraduate degree in social work, psychology or other related field. If interested or for all enquires please contact Rachael.donovan@create.org.au. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so apply now to ensure you don't miss out.


Women and Family Advocate, Scenic Rim - yourtown

yourtown is seeking a casual rostered fixed term (for three months) Women and Family Advocate working out of the Scenic Rim Region of Queensland. The role provides individual, family and group support planning to women, young people and children who are accommodated at the yourtown refuge. The role is classified at Bipers Class 51, Grade 7 and it is a genuine occupational requirement under s25 of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act that the role is performed by a female. The role works a rotating shift work roster, 8am-4pm one week and 10am-6pm the next Monday to Friday and approximately 1 Saturday in every three. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so apply now to ensure you don't miss out. Find out more and apply
 

Domestic and Family Violence Counsellor, Scenic Rim - yourtown

yourtown is seeking a permanent part time (4 days/week) Domestic and Family Violence Counsellor working out of the Scenic Rim region of Queensland. The role works from a strengths based, trauma informed case management model to provide counselling interventions and referrals to women who are accommodated at our refuge. This role also provides outreach support which involves following up residents who have exited and external services to ensure the women are receiving the support they need and providing court support when required. The role is classified at Bipers Class 52, Grade 8 and it is a genuine occupational requirement under s25 of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act that the role is performed by a female. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so apply now to ensure you don't miss out. Find out more and apply


Senior Employment Consultant - yourtown

yourtown is seeking a full time Senior Employment Consultant for the Transition to Work service based at Kingston. The role provides tailored employment services to young people aged 15-24 years old engaged with the Transition to Work service with the end goal of securing sustainable employment or higher education. The role is classified at Bipers Class 51, Grade 7. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so apply now to ensure you don't miss out. Find out more and apply
 

Youth Alcohol and Other Drugs Case Manager - YFS 

Youth and Family Service (YFS) Logan is seeking a full time, fixed term (until June 2020 with a view to permanency) Youth Alcohol and Other Drugs Case Manager for the Slacks Creek location classified at SCHADS Award Level 4. The role will work with young people aged 12-25, providing intensive case management support to address goals around reducing substance use and additional vulnerabilities such as mental health, housing and legal issues. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so apply now to ensure you don't miss out. Find out more and apply.

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PeakCare Queensland
PO Box 159
Paddington Qld 4064

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