AIFS 2018 Conference: What matters most to families in the 21st century?


The FRSA team was in Melbourne last month for the AIFS 2018 Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre.  The conference theme, that provided so much food for thought over the three days of the conference, was: What matters most to families in the 21st century?

The conference was opened by The Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP, before international keynote presenter Nora Spinks, CEO at Vanier Institute of the Family in Canada, presented on the changing make-up of families and the contemporary issues they face. Then, on Day Two, Professor Brigid Featherstone from the University of Huddersfield in the UK provided insights on what needs to change in child protection systems and services.

The conference program was filled with a wide range of concurrent breakout sessions. This included a large number of symposiums – 26 in total. One symposium that provided highly valuable information to and discussion with our network was delivered by the Department of Social Services that presented the recent progress and the next steps with: Access to Opportunity and The Try, Test and Learn Fund (presented by Tim Reddel); Family functioning and children’s outcomes (Tim Crosier); and Place-based approaches to disadvantage (Phil Brown).

Panel plenary sessions were also a strong component of the conference program, with one panel session held each day. The large panel on Day Three, comprising Benjamin Law, Jonathon Nicholas, Jamila Rizvi and others, dug deep into concepts associated with the diverse and ever-changing nature of families in the 21st century – and what this means for our service provision. The other two panels explored system reform (and the question ‘is the system dead?’) and how families can make the economy work better for them.

It was fantastic to see Judge Joe Harman and Professor Helen Rhoades in action, ahead of their keynote speeches for our FRSA Conference in Cairns. It was encouraging to hear Professor Rhoades, who is heading up the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of the Family Law System, place strong emphasis on the need to improve children’s participation across family law services.

Quite a number of FRSA members and friends attended the Conference. Emerging Minds, who will also have an exhibition booth at our conference, shared information with conference goers on their newly established National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health.

The FRSA exhibition booth attracted a lot of interest in regards to what we do, FRSA membership and our upcoming conference in November. We congratulate Kathryn Howe from Bethany who won a free registration to the FRSA Conference for signing up to receive our Conference Updates!

Watch the video below to see what our members believe matters most to families in the 21st century: