No. 11, 2021 | 20 July 2021
From FRSA's Executive Director
The past few weeks have certainly presented further challenges with the COVID pandemic. I extend my thoughts, in particular, to FRSA friends and colleagues in Victoria, for whom it must feel like Groundhog Day as the state experiences its fifth lockdown. Sydney, also in lockdown, is facing a difficult and uncertain time and we know that our Sydney-based members will be doing all they can to stay connected with their local families and communities as well as manage the personal ramifications of lockdown. SA is about to enter a seven-day period of lockdown. QLD has some restrictions in place and is carefully monitoring the situation in that state – as no doubt WA, ACT, NT and Tasmania are.
I have reflected on numerous occasions since the Pandemic began on the capability and tenacity with which Member organisations (and the sector more broadly) have so swiftly and aptly responded to the needs of the children, men, women and communities they work with given the challenges of the Pandemic. Yes, this is what they had to do and continue to do but this has not necessarily been the driver – the motivations of these organisations, and the people working and volunteering within them, are much deeper, ingrained in their being. This fortitude will inevitably continue even in the face of ongoing challenges in the current climate, and I am so very grateful to each and every person and organisation for the role they fulfil in supporting children, men, women and our communities during this time.
Last week the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Anne Ruston, convened a meeting of community sector representatives to engage directly with the Coordinator General, National COVID Vaccine Taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, to discuss how community sector leaders can support the vaccine rollout. This conversation is in its early stages, however the Federal Government clearly acknowledges the trust and connection these service organisations have with people in the community, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalised. As such, the Coordinator General was keen for this meeting to take place to consider how collectively the social services sector can assist with efficient and effective roll out of the vaccine.
The hour-long meeting was focused on engaging with the sector with much work still to be done on what role the sector and various organisations within the sector can play. FRSA is a member of ACOSS and has been contributing towards their initiative to develop high level principles intended to progress conversations with the Coordinator General and the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce further.
On a different topic, the first week of July (4-11 July) was the ever-important NAIDOC week – a time to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The theme was ‘Heal Country’ and I encourage all to read the powerful statement that accompanied this theme.
Unfortunately, in some places NAIDOC week events could not go ahead due to various pandemic restrictions, but we are delighted to provide a snapshot below of just some of the events that were able to be held by FRSA members.
“Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it has been this way since the dawn of time.” (‘Heal Country’ statement).
FRSA Executive Director
Children and Young People Safety report
The Institute of Child Protection Studies has released their report on the Children and Young People Safety project.
Data from 2018-2020 revealed that around 50% of young people (1800+ took part) said they would seek support from a parent or a friend. The report also found that not all young people want the same type of support when feeling unsafe.
To offer suitable support to individual children and young people, adults need to ask: ‘What would you like me to do to help?’ and have options ready.
Nowhere to Go: The Benefits of Providing Long Term Housing To Women That Have Experienced Domestic and Family Violence
Equity Economics has just released a report that assesses the need for additional social housing for women escaping family and domestic violence, and the economic and social benefits of addressing that need. The report was commissioned by the Everybody’s Home campaign.
Family and domestic violence is the primary reason women and children seek specialist homelessness services, but only 3.2% are currently receiving the long-term housing solutions they need.
Based on pre-pandemic incidence of domestic and family violence each year Equity Economics modelling shows that approximately:
- 7,690 women a year are returning to perpetrators due to having no-where affordable to live
- 9,120 women a year are becoming homeless after leaving their homes due to domestic and family violence and being unable to secure long-term housing.
The Nowhere To Go report finds there is an immediate need for an additional 16,810 social housing units for women escaping situations of domestic and family violence.
Young Australians highly impacted by COVID-19
A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown that experiences of severe psychological distress among young people aged 18–24 increased from 14% in February 2017 to 22% in April 2020, and of the 592,000 Australians who lost employment in April 2020, more than 1 in 3 (38%) were aged 15–24.
The report, Australia’s youth, brings together data about young people (aged 12–24) and their experiences of school and higher education, mental health and wellbeing, employment, living circumstances, and personal relationships.
This is the AIHW’s first comprehensive report on young people since 2015. It brings together updated and new data about Australia’s young people and provides suggestions for how to fill known information gaps.
FRSA Submission - Consultation on a New Decision-Making Framework for Family Law Property Matters
FRSA has made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department consultation on a new decision-making framework for property matters in family law. Submissions closed on 9 July 2021.
The consultation responds to recommendations in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2019 report, Family Law for the Future – An Inquiry into the Family Law System, for reform of the property regime in the Family Law Act.
FRSA is grateful to the members that participated on an advisory group, sharing their expertise and experience in delivering property family dispute resolution to inform our submission.
Implementing the successor plan to the National Framework – Discussion paper
The Department of Social Services’ consultation on implementing the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 will close 5.00pm, 26 July 2021.
A discussion paper, which is informed by findings from the 2019-2020 national consultations led by Families Australia, underpins the consultation.
Developing the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children
The public consultation on the next National Plan to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence is open. You can have your say here. The consultation closes 11:59pm, Saturday 31 July 2021.
Public hearing held on Federal Family Violence Orders Bill
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee held a public hearing on its inquiry into the Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 on Wednesday 14 July.
The Bill would amend the Family Law Act to establish new federal family violence orders which, if breached, can be criminally enforced. Currently family law personal protection injunctions can only be enforced civilly.
Evidence given at the hearing by the Queensland Police Union has attracted media attention over the Union’s claims that Domestic Violence Orders are used to get advantage in family court disputes. Domestic violence and legal experts have roundly challenged the Police Union’s claims noting that ‘myths about women making false domestic violence claims’ ultimately puts women and children impacted by domestic and family violence in danger.
The Committee is due to table its report on 29 July 2021.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence
On 6 July, the Government announced it has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.
The advisors on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council have been appointed for three years, with Professor Sandra Creamer AM – CEO, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance, appointed as the interim chair.
The National Family Violence Legal and Prevention Services Forum (NFVPLS) was not appointed to the Advisory Council. As the only national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak body working exclusively in family violence, NFVPLS has expressed its disappointment, noting that the 14 member organisations of the NFVPLS have more than 20 years of frontline experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout the country.
NFVPLS is campaigning to have its voice included.
Development of National Principles to Address Coercive Control
On 9 July, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, announced that the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have agreed on the terms of reference to develop a common national understanding of coercive and controlling behaviour. Attorneys-General agreed to work together to co-design national principles to address coercive control, in consultation with Women’s Safety officials, in a meeting held in June.
The terms of reference for the development of the national principles set out the scope of the project, key issues for consideration, and how jurisdictions will collaborate to undertake this work. This includes how they will complement and interact with consultation processes underway at State and Territory level to consider coercive control.
Consultations to inform development of the principles will include the release of a public discussion paper, and targeted meetings with relevant stakeholders. The draft principles will be considered by the Meeting of Attorneys-General in early 2022.
The Terms of Reference are available here.
National women's safety summit delayed
National Summit on Women’s Safety 2021 scheduled for the end of the month, has been postponed. The Summit will now take place on September 6 and 7, 2021 at Parliament House in Canberra, due to uncertainties regarding COVID-19.
The two-day program features keynote addresses, panel discussions and presentations as well as a series of roundtables that will form part of the consultation for the next National Plan to end violence against women and their children.
New Department Secretaries
FRSA welcomes the announcement of Katherine Jones PSM’s appointment as the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department and Ray Griggs AO CSC’s appointment as the Secretary of the Department of Social Services.
Ms Jones will commence on 16 August 2021. The position of Secretary has been vacant since Mr Chris Moraitis PSM was appointed as Director-General of the Office of the Special Investigator in January 2020. Currently Associate Secretary of the Department of Defence, Ms Jones has previously held Deputy Secretary positions in the Department of Finance and the Attorney-General’s Department, including as the Deputy Secretary responsible for National Security, Criminal Justice and Emergency Management.
Mr Griggs will also commence on 22 July 2021. Mr Griggs has led the National Indigenous Australians Agency with distinction since his appointment as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2019. Prior to that appointment, he was the Associate Secretary of the Indigenous Affairs Group of PM&C.
Former Department of Social Services Secretary, Ms Kathryn Campbell AO CSC has been appointed the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A New LGBTIQA+ Family Counselling Service & Family Support Network to be established across Victoria
FRSA members have received funding from the Victorian State Government to establish a new LGBTIQA+ Family Counselling service over the next four years.
The Qspace network includes Anglicare Victoria, Mallee Family Care, Upper Murray Family Care and drummond street services – Queerspace. It is their combined expertise and reach that will ensure this additional counselling support connects with LGBTIQ+ adults and young people and their families within their communities.
The network will provide specialist family counselling services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, and queer people of all ages, their families, and communities. Find out more.
NAIDOC Week was held on 4-11 July. This year’s theme was Heal Country and the week was an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the oldest continuing cultures on the planet. This is how FRSA members celebrated the week:
- AnglicareWA staff participated in cultural immersion activities, smoking ceremonies, and creating beautiful pieces of Aboriginal art in the lead up to, and during NAIDOC Week.
- Odyssey House Victoria celebrated with some old bush tucker.
- Anglicare Victoria held a Welcome to Country from their cultural Advisors Uncle Ian Goolagong and Auntie Kellie Hunter. Their Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy, Buldau Yioohgen held a Little Sista’s Day event which brought together young Aboriginal women to enjoy a day of activities such as possum skin decoration, traditional arts & crafts, massages and pampering.
- Bethany Community Support staff alongside community members worked on the banks of the Merri River to plant around 1000 trees.
- OzChild held a virtual Heal Country morning tea event.
- drummond street services held a family morning tea.
- Marymead helped organise the Canberra Community NAIDOC Week Event.
Survey of frontline workers in child protection
Do you have recent experience working in frontline child protection practice in Australia? The Institute of Child Protection Studies is conducting a survey and would love to hear from you. Your experiences and responses to family situations where domestic violence is a risk to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people will be invaluable to their research.
Relationships Australia launches Phase 2 of Families Un-Locked
Relationships Australia’s partnership with Griffith University, and the University of Worcester UK and Relate UK continues to explore the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society, families and relationships with the launch of Phase 2 of the international study Families Un-locked in Australia.
Preliminary findings from Phase 1 have shown that those impacts have been expansive and are ongoing. Phase 2 will look deeper at the medium to long-term impacts of the pandemic on relationships and family life, and help develop new ways to support all people during public health crises.
Over 750 people in Australia participated in Phase 1, with over 900 people participating across the UK. Find out more or get involved with phase 2 of the study here.
Team Leader Family Relationship Services | Upper Murray Family Care
Case Manager | Anglicare NSW South, West & ACT
Senior Financial Protection Service Coordinator | Relationships Australia QLD
Encore Facilitator | YWCA Australia
Human Resources Advisor | Relationships Australia Victoria
Team leader, Family Law Services | OzChild
Aboriginal Youth and Family Case Manager | Anglicare Victoria
This short article outlines research on children and young people’s hopes and needs when feeling unsafe, with implications for service providers.
Challenging myths about culture and violence in migrant and refugee communities | Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
This resource is intended as a starting point for professionals wanting to challenge some of the harmful ways people use cultural background or identity to explain or excuse particular experiences of violence.
Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males | Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.
Counting the cost to families: assessing childcare affordability in Australia | Mitchell Institute
Despite government subsidies, childcare is still a significant cost for many families. This paper reviews available data on expenditure and affordability, and presents new analysis of household expenditure data to understand how much Australian families are spending on early childhood education and care, as a proportion of their disposable income.
Healing through voice, culture and Country: Short films | Emerging Minds
These short films are intended to be used as ‘lunchbox sessions’, short learning opportunities that can be used for individual reflections or as team-meeting discussion activities. Each film is accompanied by a learning objective and reflection questions, the sessions and are aimed at practitioners and services who support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing FDV, helping them start conversations and promote reflective practices.
Migrant and refugee women in Australia: the safety and security study | Monash University
This is the first national study that captures the diversity of migrant and refugee women, including residency/visa status. It is also the first national study to ask specific questions about domestic violence and controlling behaviours related to the visa and migration status of women.
COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey | Our Community
This report looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the community sector including fundraising, staffing, re-skilling and volunteerism.
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