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- Friday, 15th December 2017 -
Not-for-profit organisations across the nation have increasingly become engaged in a dynamic of ‘self-silencing’, with demonstrated reluctance to publicly engage in advocacy for fear of risking financial security and political retribution. These are conclusions drawn in the Civil Voices report on research into not-for-profit advocacy commissioned by Pro Bono Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre.

Certainly the ‘quietness’ of NGOs is an issue that has not escaped the notice of PeakCare as suggested in the lead story of our 17th November edition of eNews.  It’s also a matter that was alluded to in the panel-led discussion that took place at our Annual General Meeting on 6 December, which you can read about in the ‘In the Spotlight’ section of this week’s edition.

The Civil Voices report challenges us to deeply and comprehensively explore the meaning and purpose of advocacy and the relationship and ‘rules’ of the relationship that should exist between government and non-government sectors and within that, the role and strategies that can be most constructively and effectively pursued by peak bodies, such as PeakCare. The report describes the state of debate in Australian democracy as ‘poor’ and argues that Australian civil society needs to be supported and encouraged to engage in frank and fearless advocacy if we are to ensure that our democracy remains vibrant and robust.

PeakCare’s view is that if we choose to not properly identify and tackle the full range of factors that may be contributing to the self-silencing of not-for-profits, the state of public debate will remain poor or worsen. Are there, in fact, factors other than those identified within the report that are contributing to the self-silencing of not-for-profits? PeakCare suspects that there are. Whatever these factors might be, acceptance of the self-silencing dynamic does not serve the interests of either governments or non-government organisations and those who will ultimately pay the price for any complacency we display in turning this dynamic around are Queensland children and young people, their families and communities.

PeakCare is keen to lead and facilitate further discussion, debate and problem-solving with both our Members and government colleagues about this issue in the new year. You can commence your participation in this dialogue by entering your comments about this important matter here.

Royal Commission's last sitting and final report released

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was appointed on 11th January 2013 to investigate and report on child sexual abuse within institutional contexts in Australia. The Commission has now concluded its five-year term and has today released its Final Report containing 17 volumes and 189 new recommendations. View the report summary and recommendations, and stay tuned for next week, when PeakCare will release an in depth look at the Commission's role in investigating and responding to child sexual abuse in Australia, the recommendations in the Final Report and what this means for child protection reform in Australia. 

New Opposition Leader, new Shadow Minister for Child Safety and Youth

PeakCare congratulates The Hon. Deb Frecklington MP on her appointment to the role of Opposition Leader and all who have been appointed to serve on the new Shadow Cabinet. In particular, PeakCare congratulates Hon. Stephen Bennett MP on his appointment to the role of Shadow Minister for Child Safety and Youth and Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. To see the full line-up of the new Shadow Cabinet, click here.

National recognition of domestic violence orders now in effect

All domestic violence orders issued in Australia will be recognised nationally, with The National Domestic Violence Scheme now in effect. Domestic violence orders issued in any state or territory will hold the same weight in all jurisdictions and will be enforced without a person needing to apply for a new order should they move interstate. 

Disability sector facing pressure, state of the sector report shows

National Disability Services has released the State of the Disability Sector Report 2017. The report shows the current state of operation of the sector and potential impacts of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) implementation. The report asserts that most disability service providers are currently under intense pressure and that the scale of the NDIS presents a significant challenge for providers. Challenges highlighted in the report include providers bearing additional cost from inefficient NDIS processes, the difficulty in recruiting new staff, and a lack of working capital within the sector to support growth. To address these challenges and support the sector into the future, the report contains 12 proposals, including realistic NDIS pricing, more employment supports within NDIS plans, and increased local flexibility and responsiveness of decision-making in NDIS systems. 

Call for government to reject mandatory cashless debit card scheme

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs' Inquiry Report into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 has been released, recommending that the Bill be passed. If enacted, the Bill would enable the scheme to continue operating past the original cut-off date of 2018 in the two current trial sites of Ceduna, South Australia, and the East Kimberley, Western Australia, and expanded to be applied anywhere in Australia, restricting up to 80 percent of the working-age income support payment for anyone irrespective of whether they have an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling. Evaluation of the scheme in the East Kimberley by the Australian National University cites glaring oversights in interim government evaluations of the trial sites that claim 'success', such as an absence of baseline data to test the claim that the scheme causally reduced rates of alcohol and drug use and gambling. In fact, the research shows that the scheme does not fulfill its objective in demonstrably decreasing violence or harm, disproportionately targets Indigenous peoples, was chaotically implemented with strong community opposition, and that those affected almost unilaterally said the card made their lives worse. 

National plan for youth justice reform

Change the Record has released the Free to be Kids - National Plan of Action containing an 8-point plan for government to address the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children imprisoned in Australia. The recommendations include supporting children, families and communities to strengthen and maintain cultural ties, raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14, not holding children in prison before sentencing has concluded, increasing funding for community-controlled legal and support services, improving data collection, and reforming laws that currently breach children's human rights, such as mandatory minimum sentencing and holding children in adult prisons. 

More requests for homelessness assistance, with many experiencing family and domestic violence

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released the Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report 2016-17 providing an overview of specialist homelessness services provided during the year and insights into specific client groups. The report shows an increase in clients of 3 percent from the previous year, with more people assisted into private dwellings (6 in 10) than social housing (4 in 10). Among those at risk of becoming homeless, a high proportion (40 percent) had or were experiencing domestic and family violence. The report also shows that 261 requests for assistance were unable to be met each day, with most (7 in 10) daily unassisted requests including a need for some type of accommodation support. 

Social enterprise funding applications open

Are you a Brisbane-based purpose-driven entrepreneur with an early-stage start up? Applications are now open for 25 places in the 2018 Elevate+ social enterprise accelerator program. The program offers a fully-subsidised opportunity to develop a sustainable and scalable enterprise creating positive social impact, including workshops and personal mentoring. View more information and apply online. Applications close Wednesday, 24th January 2018 with successful applicants announced early February. 

‘Just Ice?’ Symposium Video Series – new releases

This week, PeakCare is pleased to release two more videos from our ‘Just Ice?’ Symposium Video Series. They include:

Words of wisdom and hope in child protection reform at PeakCare's AGM - Part Two

This week we highlight some of the engaging discussion from the panel at PeakCare's 2017 AGM. The panel members included Michael Hogan, Director General, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services; Cheryl Vardon, Principal Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission; Natalie Siegel-Brown, Public Guardian; Natalie Lewis, CEO, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak; Lucas Moore, State Coordinator, CREATE Foundation; and Susie Edwards, Coordinator, Family Inclusion Network, Southeast Queensland. Read more.

If you have contributions you'd like to donate to the Ice Bank, or know of a program, group or organisation that should be In the spotlight, please contact Lorraine Dupree.

Small Australian towns still don’t have access to service delivery professionals

The Regional Australia Institute has published the report Pillars of communities: Service delivery professionals in small Australian towns 1981 – 2011, a three decade review into the availability of access to health, education and social service professionals in towns with populations under 5,000. Most remote and very remote small towns are in Queensland and South Australia, and Victoria has no very remote small towns. The report asserts the number of professionals in inner regional small towns grew by 85%, but there was growth of only 7% in small towns in remote and very remote areas, and that most towns were more likely to have a nurse or a primary school teacher than any other type of service delivery professional, including police officers and health specialists. The accompanying report card graded access to psychologists, dentists, and preschool teachers as an ‘F’. The report contends that overall, the gap in service delivery personnel between major cities and small towns remains significant and in some cases is widening. The report includes recommendations for policymakers to narrow the gap in access, specifically supporting community-led initiatives, flexibility in professionals’ roles of professionals, virtual service delivery to complement in-person delivery, and increasing incentives to target areas known to be difficult to staff.

Engaging children and young people in developing children’s services

The Scottish government has published the report, A model of engagement with children, young people and planners in the development of children’s services plans, on a pilot project which sought to engage children and young people as partners in service development as a model of good practice in community planning. The report tables the evidence, and outlines the principles and processes underpinning the pilot and its rights-based approach to policymaking. To facilitate the underlying principles, the pilot included activities utilising creative, small groups, hands-on approaches that appealed to children to encourage conversations and elicit engaged, meaningful feedback. Key directions for action were identified in relation to topics including mental health support, family life, school and education, bullying and violence, and poverty. The pilot included an evaluation component that included reflecting on how participants viewed the process.


Future challenges facing young Australian from refugee and migrant backgrounds

VicHealth has released a report specifically focussing on the impacts on young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, building on the 2015 Bright Futures report that identified the five megatrends most likely to impact young Australians in the future: the rising bar of education and skill levels; the global reach of digital technology and globalisation; the increasingly diverse tapestry of culture and society; virtual overexposure when interacting online; and research that brings mental health and wellbeing out of the shadows and improves service delivery. The report offers a snapshot into the statistical distribution of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in Australia, noting that in 2016 one in four young people aged 18-24 was born overseas, and that just under two-thirds of young people who migrated to Australia live in New South Wales or Victoria. The report contends that young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds face extra social, financial, family and educational barriers to gaining employment; that two specific types of digital risk affect this group - exclusion from the online world if lacking digital access or skills, or being subjected to cyberracism, bullying or other online threats; and that significant cultural, demographic and linguistic factors limit access to health care, in particular mental health services. 

No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming
Brisbane - Monday, 26th February 2018
Presented by Compass Seminars

No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming: How to Make Behaving Positively Possible for People with ASD will be delivered by Scandinavian psychologist, Bo Hejlskov Elvén, who will show how to identify and adapt to the challenging behaviours exhibited by people with autism and other developmental disabilities using the successful Low Arousal Approach. Find out more and register.

Tender and Grant Writing
Brisbane - Wednesday, 28th February 2018
Presented by Amovita Consulting

Amovita has designed a one-day tender and grant writing workshop to support practical skills and tools needed to decipher, design and submit winning tenders. This training will assist participants to communicate effectively and persuasively about the outcomes you can deliver as a preferred supplier and will explore how to leverage existing and new intra agency collaboration and external partnerships to secure an advantage in the tender process. Find out more.

Tough Conversations in Child Protection 
Brisbane - Tuesday, 13th March 2018
Presented by Parentshop

This workshop helps busy professionals to quickly assess and prepare for tough conversations in situations where a clarity-of-message can make all the difference for vulnerable families. The course will explore how to identify the strengths and deficits in parents’ caring capacity, comprehensively gather information for holding a factual tough conversation, defuse antagonism during a tough conversation, and identify the important ‘dashboard’ markers for parents so that everyone has clarity about what is expected. Find out more and register.

Culture Connect Seminar
Brisbane - Friday, 2nd February 2018

The first Culture Connect seminar of 2018 presented by Konnect Consulting Australia and Aunty Flo Watson will provide an opportunity to hear a number of guest speakers from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community throughout Queensland, including Uncle Des Sandy, with cultural engagement activities including yarning circles and much more! Tickets are strictly limited so don't miss out, view the flyer for more information and to book.

1st Asia Pacific Safe & Together Model Conference
Melbourne - Wednesday, 7th to Thursday, 8th February 2018

The Safe & Together Institute (USA) and the Berry Street Childhood Institute will be holding the 1st Asia Pacific Safe & Together Model Conference. The Safe & Together Model is an internationally respected approach for working with families impacted by domestic violence perpetrator behaviour. Join David Mandel, the Executive Director of the Safe & Together Institute and creator of the Safe & Together Model, and other change leaders from across Australia, for this conference, and learn about intervening with perpetrators as parents, partnering with adult survivors and promoting safer and more stable homes for children. Find out more.

Working with Men Conference
Sydney - Tuesday, 13th to Wednesday, 14th February 2018

The Working with Men to End Family Violence Conference 2018 aims to work towards ensuring the safety of women and children and, ultimately, ending family violence. This is Australia’s only conference focused on working with men. The conference will explore ways to enhance primary prevention, optimise men’s behaviour change programs, improve work with Indigenous men and communities, and increase collaboration, coordination and integration in the service system to improve outcomes. A must-attend for all who work with men or with those affected by men’s violence. Find out more.

NDS QLD State Conference 2018
Brisbane - Monday, 5th to Tuesday, 6th March 2018

The National Disability Services Queensland State Conference, Finding the Way Forward, will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2018. The conference offers the opportunity to listen and participate in discussions on workforce, adaptive practice, marketing, social innovation and financial benchmarking. The conference is also currently offering Masterclasses at no extra cost to the registration fee. Early bird registrations are now open.

No More Harm National Conference 2018
Melbourne - Thursday, 12th April 2018 to Friday, 13th April 2018

The No More Harm National Conference 2018 at Pullman Melbourne on the Park will consider how to address bullying, harassment and discrimination and other behaviours and attitudes that are harmful to others in the workplace, school yard, social situation, interpersonal relationship or sporting activity with a view to finding solutions. This conference is an ideal platform to exchange ideas and learn more from other professionals, researchers and practitioners that work with individuals, groups and organisations with bullying, harassing or discriminating behaviour challenges and outcomes. The conference is currently accepting online abstract submissions until Monday, 18th December and registrations to attend.

Visit the Events page on our website for other opportunities in the sector. You can also email your Professional Development opportunities so that we may promote them through future editions of eNews.

Support and Advocacy Worker, Safer Lives Mobile Service - Micah Projects

Micah Projects is seeking a Support and Advocacy Worker to join the Safer Lives Mobile Service. This position is part of an after-hours domestic violence crisis response to individuals who have been referred to Safer Lives as victims of domestic violence. This position is casual, under the SCHADS Award – Level 2. Find out more details and how to apply. Applications close 5pm Monday, 18th December.

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