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Edition 10 - April 2020

  • Parent Committee members connect virtually
  • Continued systems advocacy
  • Director-General's message to parents
  • Family contact
  • QCAT Review of Decision
  • Parent's thoughts on carer connections
  • Help for parents

Acknowledegments


FIN acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we all walk, work and live. We pay our respect to elders, past, present and emerging. We hear your wisdom as we walk alongside one another and share the dream that the children return home, safe, loved and secure.
 

Parent Committee members – keeping connected and sharing experience virtually


Recently Parent Committee members connected via Zoom to check in and provide support to one another. For most, this was their first time using video conferencing and as usual they rose to the challenge beautifully.
Self-isolating and (for some) home schooling is challenging – but parents report that they are adjusting slowly. 

While we are in really tough times – there are some silver-linings. One Qld Parent Advisory Committee member made this comment about re-connecting:
 

“My mum and I haven’t spoken in 2 years and she has now contacted me during this pandemic because I’ve sent messages asking how (my son in her care) is, she has kept in contact with me to (put) my mind at ease to know he’s okay… Why can’t others do this… It’s about the well-being and the mental health of both parents and children. Just a 5 minute phone call can put a parent at ease...”

 
Parents are the experts in their own lives and their experiences are powerful in the discussions that shape policy and procedures, especially during times like these.
This digital collage was created by Bobbi from The Family Inclusion Network Townsville. It depicts some of the comments made during the Zoom session by parents.

“Parents have a critical role in helping children feel safe”


Government is hearing the issues raised by parents in the child protection system during COVID-19. Many telephone and video meetings are being called by the Department of Child Safety’s senior officers – sometimes these are also attended by the Director-General and the Minister herself.
 
So FIN is advocating loudly to get parents’ voices to these tables (we are getting bit hoarse in the throat 😉). It seems to be working.
 
We know everything is still changing by the day but, so far, the main requests we are hearing from parents are:
  • Communicate: Child Safety should make a strong commitment to keep parents regularly informed.
  • Contact between parents and children should go ahead as uninterrupted as possible.
  • If a child gets sick (in any way), parents need to know immediately.
  • Share advice about which support services are open or closed.
  • Share advice about Emergency Relief availability.
  • ‘Virtual’ meetings or contact don’t just happen: tools are needed - the hardware, the software, the credit and data - as well as ideas and skills about ‘how’ to make this time successful
Other emerging questions include:
  • What is happening with Courts, with Reunification, with Permanency; and what are the impacts of isolation for parents experiencing domestic violence.
 
Please email or call us with your experiences, ideas, successes and questions info@finseq.org.au
 

New Director-General’s Message to Parents


On Friday, 3 April 2020 the new Director-General of Child Safety, Deidre Mulkerin, sent this message to parents, committing to keep you informed of any changes to their services and offices.
 

‘Family time’… Contact – how is it going?

 
Parents and organisations have been in touch with FIN regarding contact visits. There is some confusion about whether children can have face to face contact with parents while people are being advised to ‘stay home’.
 
What we do know is - there is NOT a ‘blanket ban’ on face to face contact. What we also know is – everything’s very complex at the moment, and every person and situation is unique.
 
What we’ve heard so far from parents and organisations:
  • That some parents are opting out of face to face contact and happy to move to virtual contact / but not all parents
  • That if anyone is ill that it is not a good idea for contact to occur
  • That if anyone is in the high risk category for COVID-19 that contact should not occur
  • That if parents and carers have good relationships, communicate well and take necessary precautions to protect everyone then things are going smoothly for some
  • That some parents are being asked to change to virtual visits
  • That contact is being considered on a case by case basis – and parents have a right to ask for a review of the decision (we talk about this in the next story 'Review of Decisions is everyone's right'.)

“I believe as parents [we] should be the ones that explain … the reasons visits have to stop for a period. Explain the safety concerns around COVID-19. Explain we have to do this to keep all of us safe. To assure them that mum and dad love them more than anything and we’re not abandoning them. I don't believe I'm asking too much, to give my kids some reassurance in these difficult times.”


(Father, March 2020)

Review of Decisions is everyone’s right


If you want to have your contact decision reviewed, there are three steps:
  1. Speak to your CSO, Team Leader and/or Manager
  2. Formally request a review of the decision through the Department’s complains system link, or
  3. Approach QCAT (the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal) to have the decision reviewed  
 
QCAT is still operating during COVID-19 restrictions.

Go to the QCAT website www.qcat.qld.gov
  • Go to ‘children and young people’
  • Go to form17
  • In your application you must include a copy of the decision – i.e the letter you received from the department stating that face to face contact is ceasing. (Parents have the right to ask for a letter from the department confirming that this is the decision being made).
  • Complete the form, with the letter attached and email back to QCAT  (If you have questions give QCAT a call).
  • Applications from parents regarding contact will be responded to as a priority (advice received on April 8.)

This is a time for carers and parents to make valuable connections


“…What is an unprecedented time for everyone involved, is also a new and terrifying experience for parents and carers. Parents are still parents, regardless of the situation. We are still parents when our child grows up and becomes a parent themselves, we are still a parent if our child passes away. We made a mistake, we see that. This virus is not something else that should be used against parents. This is a time for carers and parents to make valuable connections.
 
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is something never seen before. It has taken the whole world by storm. Many thousands (millions?) of people have lost their job, their homes are at risk, their entire lives have been turned upside down. This means we are looking at ways to adapt to a new society. Right now, we can’t go out and meet our friends for a coffee at the local café. We can’t go to the movies with our friends or family. We are told, stay home.
 
Parents with children in care … ask for allowances to be made for contact. While the parent and child and carer are feeling well, all contact should be allowed. If there is a worry with the health of any of them, then there should be an immediate change to phone calls and/or video calls. … the government should be able to step in and say that contact is ok, with the same information given to every other person. “If feeling unwell, stay home”…
 
… allow video calls or phone calls on a daily basis so the parents can feel at ease about their child. So, the child knows mum and dad haven’t just left them. So, the child is no further traumatized than they already are from the events that led them to being fostered.
 
This virus is bigger than any of us, and we have to be adaptable. This could go on for months or even years.”
 
Bobbi (Parent, Advocate, Grandparent, Social Worker - Townsville, Qld)

Help for Parents

 
This link provides numbers and direction to all government support during COVID-19. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/sunshinecoast/covid-19/support
 
These sites might be helpful if you are seeking information or assistance as well:

Ask Izzy - https://askizzy.org.au/
One Place - https://www.oneplace.org.au/
 
Check out FIN’s Facebook page for helpful self-isolation activities! www.facebook.com/finseq
 

Other useful links

 

For parents and carers

For children

For young people

As you can see, FIN is still operating! To keep you and your family safe we can’t do face to face meetings at this time. Calls, emails or setting up zoom sessions are great options to keep in contact. Our office number is 07 3013 6030 and email is info@finseq.org.au.
A little note from the FIN team – we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the parents who generously share their time, stories and experiences. Your story can inspire, create change and understanding. If you would like to contribute to Equal Chance please drop us a line at info@finseq.org.au.

Thanks to the rad Dad who sent this quote --- how very true it is.


We hold morning teas with parents to share their experiences with other parents who have walked along the same path.

Contact us to find out the next morning tea date!
 
The Family Inclusion Network SEQ
07 3013 6030
info@finseq.org.au
facebook.com/finseq
finseq.org.au
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2020 Family Inclusion Network SEQ, All rights reserved.


The Family Inclusion Network SEQ
07 3013 6030
facebook.com/finseq
finseq.org.au

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