4D Relationship breakdown and re-partnering
KIN-ections – Embracing diversity: A new approach for the FRC in walking with diverse families
Review of recommendations made in the ALRC report suggests there are gaps in how we work with families who are engaged with the family law system. Across these recommendations is a recurring theme that families need to be safe and supported, with greater recognition and responsiveness to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and culturally diverse families, as identified by Sarah Henderson MP in her opening comments of the review. Centacare North Queensland, through our Family Relationship Centre, has embraced this, as well as a growing body of research to develop a more targeted and effective service response.
Centacare North Queensland has developed the KIN-ections Project to support families both before, during and after engagement with the FRC. KIN-ections has an overall goal of achieving outcomes for families such as improved parental capacity, reduced conflict and increased safety, and ultimately more sustainable, stable care arrangements for children that responds to the unique social and cultural needs of the family.
A multi-faceted approach was taken to developing KIN-ections; it is informed by case reviews, staff wisdom, and most significantly a co-design process with the Indigenous Advisor in the FRC. In this process, a number of key findings were identified and used as a platform for moulding the service model:
- Broader family participation/consultation in decisions about children is a priority for some families, especially families who identify a cultural background with significantly collectivistic characteristics (Hofstedte, 1984, 2001, 2010) for example; preference for familial/kin group decision making.
- Those who identified family violence suggested a risk for extended family as well as immediate family.
- If families have a history of fear or negative experience with statutory or other institutional processes (e.g. child safety, police), even if the experience was indirect, there can be a persistent fear and/or avoidance of contact with such agencies.
- There was also a strong linkage between current concern about capacity to parent and a history of violence.
Centacare NQ recognises that universal and linear approaches for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and culturally diverse families may not always be effective. Our work acknowledges that engagement must be through understanding ‘family’ as a complex and dynamic relational system.
The KIN-ections Project aims to:
- support the development of a comprehensive understanding of a client’s family and cultural structures and functioning as a platform for improved safety and engagement in family dispute resolution and subsequent sustainability of co-parenting arrangements
- engage intensively using a Safety Framework to fully understand who is part of and has influence in relation to determining care arrangements for children (cultural considerations included) and how each parent may want this to be reflected in the parenting plan
- provide flexible engagement strategies including in-home or client-identified meeting venues to support increased sense of comfort and safety for clients as well as support clients to access other services and supports that may assist
- provide support that can begin as part of facilitating initial engagement in the FRC through to post-FDR to optimise the capacity of parents to implement their parenting plan and navigate initial transition issues in a manner that fosters the ability of co-parents to communicate and resolve conflict in a constructive way.
KIN-ections not only works with culturally diverse families to support access and improve outcomes for separated families, it will act as an informant of best practice for a range of services that work with families in the post-separation context.
Kurene Faaolo has worked at the Townsville Family Relationship Centre for 1 year. Prior to this, Kurene has worked at the Launceston and Ipswich FRC’s giving him a diverse range of experiences in the post-separation and family law sectors.