National Children’s Week (21-29 October, 2017) provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the rights and wellbeing of children and young people right across this big country.
There are many celebrations and discussions taking place this week around Australia and among our members, focusing the attention of the wider community on children’s needs, rights, talents and achievements.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of being involved in the Child Inclusive Practice Forum held 18-20 October, in the Adelaide Hills. Participants at CIP Forum, came from the family relationships services sector and represented a variety of programs – individual and couple counselling, family therapy, family mediation, contact services, parenting, domestic violence, children's groups and youth programs from right across Australia.
The CIP Forum provided a platform for practitioners to share wisdom, practical experience and good practice examples of CIP.
The CIP Forum featured, National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, pictured with me here, who delivered a keynote presentation ‘Children’s rights, children’s voices and their futures’.
The CIP Forum Program also featured CIP experts, including international keynote Professor Amy Holtzworth-Munroe who joined the forum all the way from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and renowned Australian expert, Professor Jennifer McIntosh, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), Deakin University, ChildrenBeyondDispute.com.au and Family Transition.
Across the Forum, a key message that emerged from presentations was the importance of 'listening' effectively to the needs and wishes of children in conflicting families. ‘Listening’ to the voice of the child may not always be as literal. The ‘voice of a child’ is not always a voice, it might a drawing, behaviour or even silence. This prompted thorough discussion, and reflection on when we think about the voice of the child in service delivery and how practitioners and agencies deal with the complexity and challenges.
CIP Forum concluded with a panel of people working with children in the context of family law, tackling the question, ‘How do we keep the child in our work while collaborating with each other?’ Panellists included, (L to R) Virginia Leeuwenberg, General Manager, Post Separation Services, Relationships Australia South Australia; Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner; Dr David List, Clinical Psychologist, Park Street Consulting; Theresa Clarke (FDRP), Relationships Australia South Australia; Judge Peter Cole, Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Angie James (FDRP)/Legal Practitioner, Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania.
CIP Clinical Committee
The Child Inclusive Practice Forum could not have been a success without the contributions from practitioners in the field, who gave of their time and expertise in preparing and presenting sessions. I’d also like to thank the CIP Clinical Committee, for dedicating their time and support in making this event. (L to R: Jackie Brady, FRSA Executive Director; Ceri Bruce; FDRP, Centacare Catholic Family Services Adelaide; Clare Daly, FDRP, FRC Uniting Communities; Jesse Jones, Service Delivery Coordinator, Centacare Brisbane; Susan Tambling, Child Consultant and Mediator, Relationships Australia QLD; Karen Marshall, Clinical Supervisor, Relationships Australia QLD; Louise Elkington, Practice Specialist, Family Law Service, Relationships Australian NSW and Jo Herbig, Senior FSRP/Specialist Child Consultant, Relationships Australia South Australia).
Now it is full steam ahead for the FRSA Conference, with 4 weeks to go. Don’t forget to register before it is too late: frsa.org.au/frsa-national-conference-2017/
FRSA involvement with the DSS’ Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAG)
FRSA continues to represent the needs of family and relationship service providers to the DSS Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAG). CSAG met on Monday 16 October 2017 under a revised 5 hour meeting format, with the morning focusing on DSS’ initiatives in Commissioning for Better Outcomes and the afternoon on its Data Exchange (DEX).
The Department has been continuing to develop its work on “Commissioning for Better Outcomes”. FRSA members were first exposed to the Department’s work in this area at the Strategic Leadership Forum held in March this year through a presentation by Mr Phil Brown. Mr Brown also presented an update on that work which remains very close to that which we saw back in March. Mr Brown did indicate that the UK Model was the strongest influence in their work to date. A lot of discussion at that meeting focused on outcomes and how the outcomes set become the measure upon which agency performance will be assessed as successful or otherwise. FRSA certainly voiced our interest in being part of an ongoing discussion about the establishment outcomes and that the development of outcomes will reap far greater rewards if this is an ongoing and transparent conversation with the sector. The Department are also exploring ways and means by which they engage more with clients and are very interested in how agencies seek and receive feedback from their clients about the services they deliver. They are also interested in the types of data/information used by agencies to assess need and how they use this information in the ongoing development and application of their services. The Department has indicated that they are interested in holding a CSAG meeting in the future with greater focus on these issues – and we will be identifying ways in which we can actively engage with our members on capturing this information in a more systemic way for future conversations.
The post lunch session focused on DEX. The Department provided an impressive presentation on the development of DEX and the levels of information they are able to capture as well as to share and feedback to participating agencies. It became clear during that meeting that the Department are indeed looking to the use of outcomes data generated by SCORE for benchmarking and commissioning purposes. As we have highlighted in our submission to the Productivity Commission on its Inquiry into Competition, Contestability and User Choice, the sector has been consistently reassured by the Department that benchmarking on the basis of DEX and SCORE was not previously in scope. The key issue for FRSA is whether or not the DEX and SCORE data is indeed the correct data to be using for this purpose. This will form a further point of exploration for us with our membership.
New ACNC toolkit to help connect MPs and charities
Australian Charities and Non-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has launched a new online toolkit to help charities and their local Members of Parliament (MPs) connect and discuss important sector issues.
The MP Charity Toolkit comprises new Charity Register functionality, which allows searches by federal electorate, and a series of 20 factsheets that cover topical charity sector issues, including fundraising, tax concessions and safe giving.
Australian Institute of Family Studies - What matters most to families in the 21st century? Abstract submission now open!
Australian Institute of Family Studies is calling for Abstracts for the 2018 Conference.
The conference theme focuses on what matters most to families in the 21st century? What’s working – and not working – for families and what futures can we create that strengthen family relationships and foster social and economic wellbeing? Can we imagine a future where “what matters most to families” drives the work of researchers, policy makers, and service providers?
To help answer some of these questions and generate the discussion, AIFS invites you to submit an abstract to present at the 2018 Conference.
For more information about the conference, or how to submission guidelines, please click here.
Supporting new mums and mums to be
The Australian Government has launched a new online mental health resource to support new mums and mums-to-be through a range of perinatal support programs. At least 40,000 Australian women are affected by perinatal depression each year.
The MumSpace website provides free access to evidence-based mental health support tools, apps, helplines and other resources.
These include two online programs that help new parents build practical skills and learn more about caring for their babies and themselves.
The Department of Social Services (DSS) is currently running two surveys, please read below for further detail.
Family and Relationship Services National Survey
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has been commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) to undertake a national survey of providers funded to deliver Family and Relationship Services (FaRS), including a particular focus on Specialised Family Violence Services (SFVS).
During October, managers or practitioners in FaRS or SFVS will be invited to participate in this online survey. Participation in this survey is voluntary. To participate you will need to complete the online survey when it opens mid-October. The survey will take around 15-minutes to complete. By participating in this survey you can help build on the existing strengths of FaRS and SFVS, inform service reviews, identify barriers to further strengthening service delivery and the need for further capacity‑building.
The survey will not ask for personally identifying information. Once the survey data has been analysed by AIFS it will be provided to DSS and the Australian Data Archive (ADA) in an anonymised form.
If you would like more information about the survey please email the AIFS Research Team at: FaRSfirstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 9214 7921. Workforce Survey
The Department of Social Services has contracted University of NSW (UNSW), in partnership with Curtin University, to conduct a national survey of workers and managers in specialised and mainstream services assisting people affected by family, domestic and sexual violence.
Organisations invited to participate in the survey include:
specialist services established to assist victims of family and domestic violence and sexual assault
services funded under DSS' Families and Children Activity, Settlement Grants Program and Financial Counselling
Commonwealth-funded legal assistance services.
The survey has two components that will be delivered separately.
In late October, organisations will be sent a unique link to a service survey. This is about the profile and experiences of the service and should be completed by a senior team member, such as manager or coordinator.
In late November, organisations will be sent a survey to be completed by service workers. Senior team members will be asked to forward the survey link to staff.
Participation in the survey is voluntary. All data collected from the survey will be used to understand the profile of their training/professional development or support needs.
If you require further information, or are interested in participating, please contact the UNSW research team by emailing Natasha Cortis: email@example.com.
Young People and Sexually Abusive Behaviours - online survey (AIFS)
The Australian Institute of Family Studies wants to map across Australia the current service responses for adolescents (10–17 years of age) with sexually abusive behaviours (SABs). The aim is to develop a detailed understanding of effective interventions and the contextual factors affecting implementation.
We are looking for program managers and service practitioners/clinicians to complete this online survey about how young people’s needs are being met through various therapeutic practices. Participants will have the opportunity to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what could be done better.
FRSA Events & Training Calendar provides holiday dates, information on national days, events and appreciation weeks and locations of upcoming sector events and trainings.
Upcoming Events & Training for the next fortnight
The emotional therapist with Dr Paolo Bertrando Compass Seminars
9am - 4pm Friday 3 November 2017 - Gold Coast QLD
Cost: $245 The Emotional Therapist is a deep exploration of what it means to be emotional and how to cultivate emotion in the therapeutic relationship. Building on modern systemic family therapy, Dr Paolo Bertrando introduces participants to working with emotions in therapy using a relationally-focused lens.Prepare/Enrich Care Training Canberra 9am - 5pm Friday 3 November 2017 - Canberra ACT
Cost: $350 The Core Training Day includes all aspects of the Customised Version necessary to enable and accredit the Facilitator to use the material immediately.If you would like to add your event or training to the FRSA Events & Training board, please get in touch.