FRSA eBulletin, No. 12, 2023

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No. 12, 2023 | 21 September 2023

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From FRSA's Executive Director

It’s been a busy start to Spring at the FRSA office. Last week we were delighted to welcome FRSA members to our annual Strategic Leadership Forum (SLF). I always love bringing our sector leaders together and harnessing that collective expertise to start addressing some of the current issues our sector is facing. It’s also an opportunity to share with members FRSA initiatives and broader policy matters.

This year, we were particularly pleased to be able to launch the findings of our latest commissioned project – Family and Relationship Services Economic Evaluation at the Forum. The family and relationship services sector will be more important than ever in the coming years. When looking ahead to the next five years, the FRSA Board felt it was important to take stock of the social and economic benefits our sector delivers so that we can build on that information to continue to provide early intervention support to children and families and ensure there is sufficient ongoing government investment in family and relationship services.

The cost benefit analysis, which was undertaken by the Centre for International Economics (the CIE), demonstrates the significant return on investment, and financial and social cost- benefits of family and relationship services. In the meetings our members had during SLF with 47 Federal politicians up at Parliament House it was a strong message to share with them that they were investing wisely in family and relationship services with a cost benefit of $8 for every $1 spent!  That is of course the ‘headline’ message and I encourage you to take a look at the full Report.

Two public consultations have opened in the past week that will be of particular interest to our members and the broader sector. One is being run by the Department of Social Services – A stronger, more diverse and independent community sector, and the other by the Attorney-General’s Department. This second consultation is tranche two of legislative reform to improve the family law system, with a particular emphasis on making the family law system safer for families. We’ll be seeking the views of members on both these consultations over the coming few weeks.

In addition, the Attorney- General announced that Mr Graeme Head, AO has been appointed to lead the Review of Family Law Services and released the Terms of Reference that will guide that inquiry process. The Australian Institute of Family Studies will be supporting Mr Head with the Review and we look forward to working very closely with our members on this project. We understand the Report is due to the Attorney-General at the end of June 2024.

Last Thursday was R U Ok? day – a reminder to check in with the people around us and really listen, “because a conversation could change a life”. Meaningful conversations are, of course, the bread and butter of our sector and I thank you all for the amazing work you do day in and day out. Take a look below to see how some of our members got involved in R U Ok? activities.

Kind regards,
Jackie Brady
FRSA Executive Director

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Strategic Leadership Forum 2023 - Knowing our value, affirming our place

Last week, CEOs and Senior Leaders in the FRSA Network gathered in Canberra – Ngunnawal Country – for FRSA’s Strategic Leadership Forum (SLF).

We were thrilled to release the findings of the Cost Benefit Analysis of family and relationship services, which the Centre for International Economics (the CIE) undertook on our behalf, at the SLF breakfast at the National Portrait Gallery. The Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP joined us at the breakfast and spoke about the upcoming review of the Family Relationships Services Program. FRSA will be in touch with members who deliver family law services under the FRSP as soon as we have more details about the timing and scope of the review.

The CIE then provided an overview of the findings to delegates and we aim to bring a repeat of this presentation to all Members and interested stakeholders over the next few weeks via a webinar. We were grateful to be joined by the deputy secretaries from the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Social Services.

Day 2 was spent walking the corridors of Parliament House sharing the Report with the 47 politicians our delegates met with.  We learnt that we have many people in Parliament House who support and admire the work that we do but there is also always more that can be done when it comes to showcasing the sector’s work.

Check out some photos from the meetings between delegates and Politicians shared via social, including meetings with Shayne Neumann MP, Senator Janet Rice, Colin Boyce MP, Tracey Roberts MP, the Hon Bert Van Manen MP, Stephen Bates MP and Brian Mitchell MP.

Family and Relationship Services Economic Evaluation: Using cost-benefit analysis to assess the value of services

FRSA commissioned the Centre for International Economics (CIE) to undertake this Cost Benefit Analysis of family and relationship services to quantify the value that these services provide to clients, and the wider community. This includes Family Law Services delivered by not-for-profit providers and funded by the Attorney-General’s Department as a sub-program under the Family Relationships Services Program, and in-scope services (sub-activities) under the Families and Children Activity, funded by the Department of Social Services.

This report builds on the already substantial body of evidence that supports the link between the provision of the suite of family and relationship services and improved health, safety, family functioning and development, social and community connectedness, and financial and economic benefits.

In the year 2021/22, these services assisted 484,800 clients through 250,100 cases, providing a total of 1.29 million care sessions. The benefit-cost ratios for Family Law Services and the Families and Children Activity range from $7.85 to $8.67 for every dollar of government funding. This means that for each dollar spent providing family and relationship services, there are $7.85 to $8.67 of benefits to society such as improved wellbeing, better family functioning and reduced court costs.

This report represents the first comprehensive Cost-Benefit Analysis of family and relationship services using the government’s SCORE framework across all relevant services. It underscores the significant return on investment, both socially and financially, that our services offer.

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The cost-of-living crisis is dramatically impacting Australians’ mental health

An independent annual benchmark survey produced for Mental Health Australia, has found that the rising cost of living is directly damaging the mental wellbeing of Australians.

The 2023 Report to the Nation found that more than one in two Australians say the rising cost of living is having a major impact on their mental health, and one in five say cost is a barrier to accessing mental health support.

Compared to 2022, Australians’ overall mental health remains the same, though with some increases in people feeling happier and more connected. There has also been an increase in Australians seeking professional mental health support, including through digital mental health services.

With these findings, Mental Health Australia is calling for urgent action by the Federal Government to improve access to mental health services, address inequalities, boost early intervention and implement strategies to expand the mental health workforce. Read the full report

ANROWS Evidence Portal – interventions to address violence against women

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has created a new online tool – an Evidence Portal – as a living resource of interventions from high-income countries that aim to address and end violence against women.

The Evidence Portal is a curated database – containing only references to impact evaluations of interventions to end violence against women – and a specialised search engine, which allows users to search for information using filters and tools designed for the violence against women sector.

Users can explore the Evidence and Gap Maps and Geographic Evidence Maps to get a visual overview of the available evidence and gaps in the knowledge base. They can also use the Intervention finder to search for details on a particular intervention, including its impact, and its applicability to different population groups.

To find out more about the ANROWS Evidence Portal, including how to sue it and responses to frequently asked questions, visit the portal here.

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FRSA Webinar: Overview: Family Law Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 – Exposure Draft

FRSA is hosting a MEMBERS ONLY webinar on Wednesday, 4 October at 12pm-12:45pm (AEDT). The webinar will be on the Australian Government has released the draft Family Law Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 for public consultation. Rebecca Mills from the Attorney-General’s Department will provide an overview of the 4 schedules contained in the exposure draft, with a particular focus on those that are more immediately relevant to the work of the family and relationship services sector.

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A stronger, more diverse and independent community sector – public consultation

On 12 September, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth announced a public consultation on options to create a stronger, more diverse and independent community sector.

An issues paper has been developed that focuses on five areas:

  • Giving the sector the voice and respect it deserves through a meaningful working partnership
  • Providing grants that reflect the real cost of delivering quality services
  • Providing longer grant agreement terms
  • Ensuring grant funding flows to a greater diversity of community sector organisations (CSOs)
  • Partnering with trusted community organisations with strong local links.

FRSA contributed to development of the Issues Paper through our representation on the Department of Social Services’ Community Services Advisory Group. We are encouraged that the Government recognises the integral role of the community sector in delivering services to Australian communities as well as providing a voice for those communities to feed into Government policy development.

The Issues paper looks at ways to strengthen and support the community sector. We encourage FRSA members and stakeholders to share their expertise, ideas and insights through the submission process.

FRSA will also make a submission and we’ll be reaching out to interested members to hear your views over the coming weeks.

Submissions close 7 November 2023. For more information, visit DSS Engage.

Family Law Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 – public consultation open

On 18 September, the Australian Government announced that further draft family law legislation has been released for public consultation. This is the second tranche of reforms to improve the family law system, with a particular emphasis on making the family law system safer for families.

The draft legislation simplifies key principles for property settlement in the Family Law Act to assist separating parties, legal representatives and the courts. Importantly, it proposes that family violence be considered as an important factor in property disputes.

A range of other measures are captured in the amendments, including:

  • enhancing the court’s discretion to manage evidence where family violence is alleged or present between separating couples
  • inserting a specific duty of disclosure in property and financial matters in the Family Law Act which would apply during court proceedings or when a party is preparing to start a proceeding
  • clarifying the circumstances in which a court can order a party to contribute towards the cost of an Independent Children’s Lawyer
  • strengthening Commonwealth Information Orders to ensure the court has access to critical information about the risk of violence to a child
  • providing a framework for the future regulation of Children’s Contact Services.

The exposure draft and more information about the consultation are available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Submissions close 10 November 2023.

Review of the Family Relationships Services Program

On 5 September, the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP announced that Mr Graeme Head AO had been appointed to lead a review of the Family Relationships Services Program (FRSP).

The FRSP was set up in the mid-2000s and provides a range of family law services to support separated and separating families. The review will ensure that family law services continue to meet the needs of Australian families into the future.

Mr Head has an extensive career in government administration and his experience spans policy, regulatory and central agencies, with a focus on social policy, environmental policy and public sector employment. Mr Head will be supported by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in completing this piece of work.

Terms of Reference

The evaluation must include:

1) A review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the current FRSP, including:

  • A review of the extent to which the current elements of the FRSP are meeting the needs of families, including supporting First Nations or other families which may require different approaches to managing conflicts associated with family separations, or may have difficulties interacting with or barriers to accessing FRSP services
  • The extent to which current and future planned activities of the grant recipients are aligned to grant requirements and meeting the needs of families
  • An assessment of the services which are best meeting families’ needs, and any services which may require modification, may no longer be suitable or are not frequently used
  • An assessment of services which are not able to be accessed through the program but which directly support the program’s aims of supporting separated and separating families to resolve disputes outside of Court
  • The extent to which the program complements and supports the broader family law sector (including other professional services accessed by separating families)
  • The services which are most efficiently delivered in combination, to provide necessary supports to families in a connected, holistic manner
  • The outcomes/output measures which best capture the impact and value of the services, for future reporting.

2) A robust modelling project, using relevant data (such as general population, demographics, projected growth trends etc), to identify the priority location, or delivery method, of services (including online or remote service delivery) to most cost effectively deliver services to the community (projected forward at least 10 years.

FRSA looks forward to working closely with our Members who deliver these important services to contribute to the review.

Introduction of legislation to encourage philanthropic giving

On 14 September, The Government introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Support for Small Business and Charities and Other Measures) Bill 2023 into Parliament. The Bill includes measures to encourage philanthropic giving.

The Bill provides a pathway for up to 28 community foundations to be endorsed as deductible gift recipients. The entities are, or will be, structured as either trusts or incorporated entities. Community charity trusts and community charity corporations do not fit neatly into any of the existing deductible gift recipient categories.

A new framework will facilitate community charities achieving deductible gift recipient status, subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement powers.

This will encourage philanthropic support for these foundations and contribute to the Government’s goal of doubling philanthropy by 2030.

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R U OK Day

Last week on 14 September 2023 was R U OK Day, an annual day that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with those in their world who may be struggling with life.

See how FRSA Members around the country celebrated the day:

  • Anglicare Southern Queensland’s staff and clients celebrated the day and had and R U OK yellow cake. They also made a video encouraging people to ask the simple question, R U OK?
  • Meli staff spread the R U OK message throughout the week, enjoying a bright yellow cookie with a cuppa and a chat with a colleague.
  • Centrecare Inc’s Kalgoorlie staff attended the Women’s Health Expo hosted by the Goldfields Women’s Health Care Centre on 14 September, to celebrate Women’s Health Week and RU OK? Day. While Perth staff got together for a morning tea organised by their Human Resources Team. And their Esperance, Midland and Gosnells Child and Parent Centre got into the spirit of R U OK? Day by participating in a number of events in the area.
  • Anglicare WA’s Triage and Service Support team all coordinated in yellow in honour of the day.
  • Livable staff wore yellow as a reminder to spark meaningful conversations that could change a life.
  • Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn staff asked R U OK?
  • Kyabra Community Association Inc celebrated the day by wearing yellow and sharing resources around the day.
  • Community First Step made R U OK Day goodie bags and invited people to come to their Hub to meet with one of their friendly staff members and have a chat.
  • Centacare NQ’s supervision team hosted an R U OK DAY morning tea.
  • Parkerville Children and Youth Care’s Child and Parent Centre’s team got together to engaged in heartfelt conversations.
  • Centacare Brisbane shared tips on how to start the conversation of  R U OK?
  • Relationships Australia NT’s staff member Heather in Alice Springs encouraged people to think about having a meaningful conversation with others focusing on suicide prevention.
  • Anglciare SA’s StandBy Support After Suicide team hosted a webinar for all employees followed by a morning tea.
  • Relationships Australia Canberra & Region staff joined the R U OK Day 2023 Walk for Life with headspace Batemans Bay.
  • Uniting Communities wore yellow to celebrate the day.
  • Family Life’s SHINE and Connect team members took part in the R U OK? Day event at Hampton Park Secondary College.
  • CatholicCare Central Queensland teams from across their Diocese came together to take some time to enjoy each others company and ask each other that all important question: R U OK?
  • Communicare sites it up in vibrant yellow for R U OK? Day. Teams came together through personalised gatherings, wore yellow and decorated their workplaces.
  • Centacare NENW’s Cass was at Peel High School to help share the message “I’m here to hear”.
  • EACH hosted The Hon. Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Mental Health, and Jackson Taylor, Member for Bayswater, at their Boronia Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub.
  • The City of Greater Geelong’s Mayor made a video about encouraging people to ask R U OK?
Odyssey House Victoria wins ‘Best Workplace’ award

Every two years, Odyssey House Victoria surveys all their staff to obtain their views on a range of indicators relating to their performance and organisational outcomes. This independent survey is conducted by Macquarie University through their “Voice Project”, and it is benchmarked against hundreds of other Australian organisations and more than three million employees.

This year Odyssey House Victoria was awarded the 2023 Voice Project’s ‘Best Workplace’ award, for the second time running, with their first award in 2021. This award is given to the top organisations that show very high levels of employee engagement, wellbeing and satisfaction, together with high levels of organisational progress.

2023 Victorian Protecting Children Awards

Congratulations to FRSA Members who’s staff and teams have won at the annual Victorian Protecting Children Awards. The awards recognise and celebrate individuals, teams and groups who demonstrate excellence in working with children, young people and families.

Congratulations to:

  • Gippsland Anglicare Victoria Multisystemic Therapy Team, Anglicare Victoria who won the Robin Clark Marking a Difference Award.
  • Leonie Patterson from OzChild won the Carer Award.
  • Transforming Educational Achievement for Children at Risk (TEACHaR) Leadership Team, Anglicare Victoria won the Engaging Kids in School Award.
  • Sajja Naboulsi, Anglicare Victoria won the CREATE Positive Impacts Award – CREATE Foundation.
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World Mental Health Day

Mental Health AustraliaMental Health Month and World Mental Health Day on 10 October is just around the corner. Mental Health Australia has launched their “Look after your mental health, Australia” 2023 campaign website.

Sign up to join their campaign and receive tips, ideas, and key facts to help you improve your mental health, and promote good mental health awareness at work, at home and within your communities.

To partner with Mental Health Australia for this year’s campaign, visit the lookafteryourmentalhealthaustralia.org.au website.

YES to a Voice for Families, Children and Young People

Families Australia is hosting an online forum, ‘YES to a Voice for Families, Children and Young People’, Wednesday 27 September, 1:30 – 2:30pm AEST.

Led by Ms Tanya Hosch, Executive General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy at the Australian Football League and Mr Richard Weston, CEO of Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, this forum provides an opportunity to gain of a better understanding of:

  • what is being proposed by the referendum;
  • what a successful ‘YES’ vote outcome would mean for families, children and young people across the country, (especially for First Nations families, children and young people).
  • the practical outcomes we can expect, including the impact and opportunities of enshrining a Voice to Parliament; and
  • why over 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are supporting the YES vote

Click here to register

National Survey of LGBTIQA+ Experiences of Sexual Violence

The Albanese Government has commissioned the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to undertake a national survey into LGBTIQA+ people’s experiences of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Research shows that LGBTIQA+ people experience sexual violence at a higher rate and in different ways than the broader Australian population. A critical step in delivering the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 (National Plan) is building a picture of the unique, intersecting and lifelong impacts of gender-based violence and abuse against LGBTIQA+ people.

The survey includes a First Nations focus and will build on the recently released Personal Safety Survey (PSS) 2021-22 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and provide broader information on prevalence rates, social norms, attitudes, beliefs, bystander actions, and help-seeking behaviour in LGBTIQA+ communities.

You can find out more about or participate in, the survey here.

AIFS 2024 Conference call for abstracts

The AIFS Conference 2024 invites experts in education, health, social sciences, gambling, family law, child protection and community services to submit an abstract for one (or more) conference subthemes.

The AIFS Conference is an opportunity for experts to share research and spark bold conversations on the trends, promising evidence, big challenges and emerging issues for families.

Abstract submissions close 13 October 2023. Find out more: www.aifsconference.com.au

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Thu 25

1-2-3 Magic® & Emotion Coaching

July 25 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm AEST
Fri 26

Conference: Children, Trauma and the Law | 12-13 October 2023 | Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus

This 2-day conference hosted by Southern Cross University (Lismore campus and online) focuses on the trauma for children and young people who become involved in criminal law, family law and out-of-home care systems. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn from young people with lived experience and to interact with state and federal children’s commissioners, engage with academics and practitioners, and be part of discussions seeking solutions to real problems.

NSW

Eating Disorders Clinician headspace Wagga Wagga | Relationships Australia Canberra & Region

Mental Health Clinician headspace Wagga Wagga | Relationships Australia Canberra & Region

VIC

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner | Mallee Family Care

QLD

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner | CatholicCare Central Queensland

Placement Worker | UnitingCare Community

Counsellor |  UnitingCare Community

Child & Adolescent & Family Counsellor | UnitingCare Community

NT

Case Worker Men’s Behavior Change Program – Berrimah, NT | CatholicCare NT

Counsellor – Katherine | CatholicCare NT

Family Dispute Resolution practitioner | Relationships Australia NT

Counsellor – Family and Relationship Services | Relationships Australia NT

If you have any events you’d like listed on the FRSA Events and Training Calendar or job vacancies you’d like listed on the FRSA Jobs Board, email Communications Officer, Vanessa Lam at communications@frsa.org.au. Please note that posting onto the FRSA website is reserved for FRSA Members only.

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Future-proofing safety: COVID-19 and family violence in Victoria 2020-2021 | Centre for Family Research and Evaluation

This is the final report for the Future-proofing Safety project, funded by Family Safety Victoria. The report highlights the significant challenges and specific opportunities for services and clients that emerged during COVID-19. These include elevated client risk and need, changed service responses, gaps and weaknesses within the family violence and sexual assault service system, and the impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce.

Advancing loneliness and social isolation as global health challenges: taking three priority actions | Public Health Research & Practice

Loneliness and social isolation have been identified as critical global health issues in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. This paper argues that three priority actions are needed achieve a wider and more substantial impact on loneliness and social isolation.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect | Child Family Community Australia

This resource sheet provides information on mandatory reporting laws, which require specified people to report designated types of suspected child maltreatment to specified state or territory authorities.1 It provides answers to common questions about mandatory reporting and covers the mandatory reporting legislation across all Australian jurisdictions.

Current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia | Parliament of Australia

In November 2022, the Senate referred an inquiry into current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee. This report outlines the findings from that inquiry.

Power Struggles: Renting in Winter | Better Renting

Through the winter of 2023, Better Renting worked with 59 renters to track temperatures in their homes and what it meant for them. They found unhealthy low temperatures in a large number of homes in the sample. Renters’ experiences were characterised by a sense of powerlessness, forcing them to put up with substandard homes and negligent landlords, due to a fear of eviction, a rent increase, and potential homelessness.

Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander family history research | AIATSIS

This collection of information and resources, collated and created by AIATSIS aims to assist with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family history research. It assists Stolen Generation survivors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families by helping people find information about their family history and access Australian records.

Dismantling interpersonal racism to support culturally diverse families | Emerging Minds Podcast

In this episode, practitioners Julie Ngwabi (Emerging Minds), Etty Garabelli (Australian Refugee Association) and Steph Shavin (Victorian Transcultural Mental Health) explore how racism impacts the mental health of children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Australia. The practitioners use their critical self-awareness and reflection to discuss how biases and privileges can be managed and responded to when working with children and parents.

Minimum Practice Standards: Specialist and Community Support Services Responding to Child Sexual Abuse | National Office for Child Safety

The standards provide a set of principles and benchmarks for services to promote safe and effective services that support individuals who have experienced or been impacted by child sexual abuse.

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