No. 12, 2021 | 5 August 2021
From FRSA's Executive Director
Each day seems to bring more sad and confronting news as the latest COVID outbreaks play out. As always, my thoughts are with those of you who are continuing to deliver vital services in challenging circumstances – as well as keeping yourselves and your families safe and occupied. Our sector is resilient but the toll this is taking on our services – and particularly our dedicated workers – is by no means lost on me.
Still, the world keeps turning, and our calendars are filled with events intended to elevate the importance and understanding of particular issues within the Australian discourse. We have a few in this fortnight that are definitely worth highlighting.
This week is National Homelessness Week. Having stable, decent, affordable housing is core to everyone’s health and wellbeing. This week reminds me that the ability to engage fully in society is so intertwined with the status of one’s housing. We know too well in our sector that there are many potential pitfalls and times of risk in the lifecycle where homelessness can become the lived reality for people. Some of the recent conversations about the COVID-19 vaccination scheme and the particular challenges for those in our society who are homeless means we do need to work harder at bringing vital services to them in the absence of a place they can call home.
Yesterday was National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day which seeks to keep clear in the minds of Australian people the importance of these children and highlight not only the significant obstacles and challenges they have in life but their strengths and gifts. It was good to read in this morning’s newspapers that the Federal Government is committing $1b towards measures intended to address initiatives within the ‘Closing the Gap’ policy agenda. This injection of funding has been well received by the Coalition of Peaks Chair, Pat Turner AM, and we look forward to reading the announcement in more detail.
The last Sunday in July celebrated Stepfamilies Day. According to Stepfamilies Australia, there are an estimated 1 in 5 Australians who are part of a stepfamily or blended family with stepfamilies/blended families the fasting growing type of family in Australia at the current time. It is a relatively new celebration in Australia’s Calendar but has been celebrated in the United States for many years. Given the work our members are involved in we appreciate the special role stepparents play in raising children. Stepfamilies day exists to ‘recognise and celebrate the many different family types in Australia and acknowledge the important role stepparents can play in our children’s lives’. As a mother who had three children five years and under at one point in my life – my three sets of grandparents were a gift that just keeps on giving and I certainly do not take them for granted.
This morning, Robyn and I met with a couple of key staff in the Department of Social Services to discuss next steps in the consultation phase around the DSS funded programs under the Families and Children Activity. The Department is keen to reboot those consultations and discussions now that funding agreements and associated AWP’s are close to being finalised. We anticipate there will be some advice coming out about that within the next fortnight.
FRSA Executive Director
Young Voices of the Pandemic report
A new Mission Australia report reveals that young people who said COVID-19 was their biggest issue in 2020 were most concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their education, experience of isolation and mental health. The report, Young Voices of the Pandemic: Youth Survey COVID Report 2020, draws on data from Mission Australia’s 19th annual Youth Survey of young people aged 15 to 19 years to provide unique insights from responses to the open-text question: “In the past year, what is the biggest issue that you have been dealing with? What do you think needs to be done about it?”
Amplifying young people’s own words, this report provides insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them and what can be done to help. The report also provides a range of recommendations put forward by young respondents.
New research uncovers growing threat of technology-facilitated abuse
New survey findings from ANROWS have revealed that the majority of surveyed support workers reported that a lot of the time women seeking support for family, domestic and sexual violence receive abusive messages, are harassed or are monitored and tracked using digital or online communication.
The report, Technology-facilitated abuse: A survey of support services stakeholders surveyed 338 support service workers across Australia on their experiences supporting victims of technology-facilitated abuse including via phone, text messages, email and social media.
- 83.1 per cent of workers reported working a lot of the time with victims who were sent putdowns or insulting or harassing messages;
- 77.3 per cent of workers reported victims experienced ongoing unwanted contact via digital or online communication a lot of the time;
- 58.3 per cent of workers reported victims experienced being tracked (e.g. constant phone calls, messages, GPS tracking, monitoring through social media websites) a lot of the time;
- 56.2 per cent of workers reported victims experienced attempts at having their access to technology controlled a lot of the time; and
- More than 40 per cent of workers reported the response from dating platforms and apps to take technology-facilitated abuse seriously was ‘never’ adequate.
Increase in financial distress in lockdowns & demand for help from charity emergency relief services
A new ACOSS report, Financial distress in lockdown: The impact of lockdowns on demand for food relief and financial assistance, has found that online searches for emergency relief services have sky-rocketed following lockdowns in NSW and Victoria. Since the start of the Sydney lockdown to July 14, online searches for emergency relief services rose by more than 800% through Ask Izzy and searches for financial assistance have doubled.
Other key findings include:
- During the Victorian lockdown in 27 May to 10 June, there was a 120% increase in searches for emergency relief, with almost one in four searches relating to food relief.
- Searches for financial assistance rose by 76% in the first 10 days of the May-June Victorian lockdown
- Foodbank NSW & ACT has a backlog of over 10,000 food relief requests as at 19 July 2021
- International students have made 20,000 requests for food hampers since 6 July 2021
- Foodbank is now processing as many hampers a day as they did in a week before lockdown began, 2,500 – 3,500 emergency relief hampers a day.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander's Children's Day
It was National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s Children’s Day this week on 4 August. It’s a day to celebrate the strengths and culture of children. This year’s theme was Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit.
The theme highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.
The Government also announced a $120 million investment to improve access to quality early childhood education. The package forms part of the Commonwealth’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan including:
- $81.8 million to expand the Connected Beginnings program in 27 new sites
- $29.8 million to expand the Community Child Care Fund Restricted Program and fund up to 20 additional mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-run child care services in remote communities
- $9 million to expand the Early Years Education Program to create four new replication sites in Queensland and Victoria
- $1.9 million to trial a new early learning teaching model to strengthen literacy and numeracy through explicit instruction, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in two early learning centres.
The Census next week
The Australian Census is almost here with Census night set for Tuesday 10 August 2021. You can, however, complete the Census as soon as you receive your instructions.
The Census is held every five years to collect demographic, social and economic data.
This information can be used to plan community and local services and is also used during workforce development. As well as questions such as your age, country of birth and education, you will be asked questions about your job and industry of employment. Responses will provide insight into the size and composition of the community services workforce and can be used by FRSA and other key bodies to support the development and recognition of the community work profession.
Visit the 2021 Census website to learn about the variety of ways you can complete your form.
Harsh Regulations for the charitable sector
Along with many in the charities sector (and beyond), FRSA holds grave concerns about harsh new regulations for the charitable sector proposed by federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar through amendments to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013.
Late last week, FRSA wrote to all parliamentarians voicing our concerns and encouraging them to oppose the proposed amendments.
If enacted, these new regulations would mean that charities could be deregistered for even the most minor offences and they would give the Charities Commissioner the power to shut down a charity if the Commissioner believes that a minor breach is likely to happen in the future.
Throughout Australia’s history the charitable sector has given voice to the changing needs of Australia’s communities, particularly those who are vulnerable and marginalised. Evidence of this activity has been most visible recently as the sector worked (and continues to work) tirelessly through the pandemic to support people and keep people safe, as well as keeping Government informed of and abreast of issues on the ground as we see them.
The proposed regulations threaten the valuable contribution the charitable sector makes. effectively silencing our sector (and the vulnerable and disenfranchised), at a time when we should be working – frankly and fearlessly – with government to ensure that policy responses to the pandemic and its health, social and economic impacts are in the best interests of all Australians.
The proposed regulations were tabled in Parliament on Tuesday 3 August.
FRSA Submission - Implementing the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children
FRSA made a short submission to the Department of Social Services’ consultation on implementing the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The consultation closed on 26 July.
In our submission we noted our support for a successor plan that looks to ‘protecting Australia’s children’ in the longer term through a more holistic concept of protection that incorporates child wellbeing as well as safety. To this end, we highlighted the strengths and potential of the family and relationship services sector to play a stronger prevention and early intervention role, within a public health framework, through its provision of non-stigmatising, evidence-informed services.
The successor plan was due to be finalised end July 2021.
Homelessness in Australia – Inquiry Report tabled
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs tabled its final report on its inquiry into homelessness in Australia on 4 August 2021 – coinciding with National Homelessness Week.
The Committee made 35 recommendations, which propose a renewed approach to preventing and addressing homelessness in Australia. This includes a recommendation that Australian governments work together to establish a ten-year national strategy on homelessness.
Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness, welcomed the recommendation for a national homelessness strategy but says the Committee stops short of recommending the actions needed to increase social housing to meet need.
Mental Health Inquiry - update
The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention held a number of public hearings over June-July 2021, with a further hearing scheduled for 5 August.
The Committee heard from organisations, governments, and individuals on workforce concerns and service accessibility, digital models of service, affordability, and the capacity of mental health initiatives to meet the needs of at-risk communities.
Transcripts of these hearings are available on the Committee website.
The Committee is due to report by 1 November 2021.
Treasury – ACNC Secrecy Provisions
Federal Treasury is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the issues identified in recommendation 17 of the Strengthening for Purpose: Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission Legislation Review 2018 (ACNC Review).
Treasury seeks feedback on:
- concerns and impacts of the ACNC’s current secrecy provisions;
- views about the benefits and sensitivities of public disclosure of certain information about the ACNC’s regulatory activities;
- circumstances under which the ACNC should disclose information about its regulatory activities to the public; and
- factors and risks that should form the basis of a discretion when considering whether or not to disclose information to the public.
More information, including a consultation paper, are available on the Treasury website. Submissions are due by 22 August 2021.
Report tabled – Federal Family Violence Orders Bill
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee tabled its report on the Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 [Provisions] on 29 July 2021.
The purpose of the bill, which would amend the Family Law Act 1975 (the Family Law Act), is to establish new federal family violence orders which, if breached, could be criminally enforced.
The Committee supported the bill being passed, subject to the federal government:
- working with stakeholders to ensure that anticipated complexities and potential inconsistencies arising from the concurrent operation of federal family violence orders and state and territory protection orders are resolved prior to implementation of the federal scheme
- considering explicit safeguards or other implementation measures against systems abuse through the use of federal family violence orders
- considering the accessibility of federal family violence orders for applicants located in regional and remote areas.
Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra Goulburn merger
Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn have announced that both agencies will be coming together to create one new agency named, Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn.
Anna Kirwan has been appointed Group CEO with Tracey Hall (Marymead) and Lisa Higginson (CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn) as Group Deputy CEO’s.
“For decades CatholicCare Canberra/Goulburn and Marymead have worked alongside each other providing quality services to individuals and families in need,” Ms Kirwan said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to come together and better utilise our skills, resources, and expertise to do more within our communities.” Read more
CRANES announce new name
From 1 September, CRANES Community Support Programs will operate as LIVABLE LIMITED.
Their new brand ‘livable’ represents ‘a life worth living’ with their service goal to help people live, ‘your life, your way’.
The CRNAES team said the new name change will allow the organisation to present themselves as “truly the most innovative and trusted community services provider across Northern NSW and aid the expansion of our crucial services beyond the confines of the Clarence Valley into other regions.” Read More.
Catholic Social Services Australia's new Executive Director
Catholic Social Services Australia has named Monique Earsman as their new Executive Director.
Ms Earsman joined CSSA last year, serving as executive officer to Ursula Stephens who stepped down from the CEO role earlier this year.
Monique brings nearly 20 years of experience in politics and strategic communications to her role as Executive Director. She has worked as an Electorate Officer and later Ministerial Adviser to both Federal and ACT Ministers, as National Organiser at a major political party, and as a senior communications professional in the public and private sectors.
Parenting Orders Research Project – Closing Soon
The Australian Institute of Family Studies is researching compliance and enforcement of family law parenting orders and invites parents and carers with parenting orders from the family law courts to participate in a survey. If you live in WA click here. If you live in other parts of Australia click here.
The survey will close 31 August 2021.
Redress Support Services - open for applications
The Government is inviting organisations through an open competitive process to apply for Redress Support Services.
The Redress Support Services program aims to provide timely access to trauma informed and culturally appropriate community-based services to support people’s engagement with the National Redress Scheme.
Applications close at 9:00 pm AEST on 13 September 2021. Visit the website for more information on how to apply.
Survey: Professional development for practitioners working with children, young people and their families
A new research study aims to identify the training and development needs of practitioners who work with children, young people and families who experience complexities and may also be involved with child protection systems.
Practitioners who have a tertiary qualification are invited to complete a survey which will take about 30 minutes. You are eligible whether you provide direct services (case worker, case manager) or indirect services (supervisor, manager, consultant).
The survey is open until 31 August 2021. Complete the survey here.
Drought Resilience Innovation Grants Program - Expression of Interest - open for applications
The Government is inviting Expression of Interest applications via an open competitive process for grants under the Future Drought Fund – Drought Resilience Innovation Expression of Interest (EOI) and Grants Program.
These grants will support innovative projects that equip farmers and agricultural-dependent communities and businesses with the tools and capacity to adapt, reorganise, transition and/or transform in preparation for drought conditions.
Applications close at 9:00 pm AEST on Wednesday 8 September 2021.
AIFS Conference call for abstracts now open
Abstract submissions for the AIFS 2022 Conference are now open. They are looking for abstracts from a range of sectors and professions to fill our three-day program. Submissions can be made in five key sub-themes:
- Family relationships
- Parenting, child development and caring
- Families and financial circumstances
- Family law
- Challenges for families.
You can submit an abstract for an oral presentation, e-poster, roundtable presentation or symposium.
Submissions close on Thursday 14 October 2021. Click here to find out more or to submit an abstract.
Impact Grants for Technology Projects
Ethical and independent technology advisors Dog & Bone have launched a grant-in-kind program that provides not for profits with the opportunity to get strategic or technical support with their technology.
The grants are open to NFPs with 50 staff or less, and organisations can apply for grants from $5-$20,000. There will be $120,000 of projects available annually, with $30,000 per quarter.
Organisations can get practical or strategic support with their technology requirements.
The impact grants give organisations access to technology projects ranging from help with their technology strategy, through navigating the new hybrid workplace, to independent technology procurement.
Find out more or apply via their website.
200 new scholarships with the Australian Institute of Company Directors
The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), in partnership with the Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF), have announced 200 full scholarships available to the Australian not-for-profit sector in 2021/2022. The scholarships will be offered in all states and territories across Australia and will enable directors, executives and emerging directors of NFP organisations with a turnover of less than $2m to attend the AICD’s Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors program.
The application deadline is Friday 20 August 2021 at 5pm AEST. You can read full details here.
Frontline Practitioners' Experiences and Perceptions of Protecting Children from Maltreatment During COVID-19
ISPCAN (International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) has partnered with ISPCC (International Scholars Protecting Children During COVID-19) on a survey that will give insights into the experiences and perceptions of frontline workers who have been working to protect children from maltreatment during COVID-19. The questionnaire includes items related to:
- Knowledge of COVID-19 policies and impact
- The resources and support available at work and at home
- What resources/support would be helpful
- The effects of COVID on practitioners and how they are coping
The survey aims to 1) shed light on what’s happening on the frontlines of child protection; 2) identify gaps between country policies and actual practices; 3) compare policies across countries; and 4) identify what professionals want and need to work effectively.
Click here to complete the survey. The survey closes 6 August 2021.
Practice Manager – Child, Youth and Family Services | CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay
Senior Financial Protection Service Coordinator | Relationships Australia QLD
Specialised Foster Carer | OzChild
Senior Family Violence Practitioner – Shepparton | Relationships Australia Victoria
Human Resources Advisor | Relationships Australia Victoria
Family Violence Practitioner – Sunshine | Relationships Australia Victoria
Family Violence Practitioner – Shepparton | Relationships Australia Victoria
Client Services Coordinator – Melbourne CBD | Relationships Australia Victoria
This paper explores alcohol-related harm within families and the best available evidence on alcohol consumption during the restrictions related to COVID-19 in Australia, from March to July 2020. Drawing on a scoping review of survey data and established evidence, the paper explores what alcohol-related harm looks like, what we know about alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm during the early stages of COVID-19, and how practitioners can adopt a harm-minimisation approach when working with clients.
This research project is mapping and analysing ‘what works’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing programs across the nation that respond to domestic and family violence and sexual assault. This review report includes an overview of the family violence, trauma and healing literature before presenting evidence on what works for family violence programs and what works for healing.
Ethics in evaluation | Australian Institute of Family Studies
This document outlines the ethical issues that should be considered in any evaluation and provides guidance on when an evaluation is likely to need a formal review by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).
Text mining police narratives for mentions of mental disorders in family and domestic violence events | Australian Institute of Criminology
In this paper, the authors describe the feasibility of using a text-mining method to generate new insights relating to family and domestic violence (FDV) from free-text police event narratives.
Closing the Gap: annual data compilation report July 2021| Productivity Commission
This is the first annual data compilation report to inform the reporting on progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
This resource introduces complex trauma and trauma-informed care, including their importance in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of infants and young children.
Southern Cross University and the NSW advocacy organisation for TEI-funded services, fams, have just released a report on qualitative research that explored the experiences of eight workers and three managers delivering family work using telepractice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An overall conclusion of the study is that the reported experiences of using telepractice has highlighted new service delivery options family workers can add to their suite of practice methods, rather than seeking their replacement. The author argues that what may be more beneficial for improved social outcomes than choosing face-to-face over telepractice in family work, is to combine the best elements of both to deliver a hybridised service that is tailored to the unique needs of children, young people and families.
Challenges in Risk Assessment with Rural Domestic Violence Victims: Implications for Practice | Journal of Family Violence
This research examines the perspectives of service providers regarding challenges in assessing risk for women experiencing domestic violence in rural locations.
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