FRSA eBulletin, No. 14, 2023

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No. 14, 2023 | 26 October 2023

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From FRSA's Executive Director

The recent Referendum has certainly been the topic of conversation in the circles I mix in.  The sentiments of despair, fragility and lost opportunity resound.  I want to acknowledge the sorrow and grief many First Nations people are currently experiencing following the result of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum.

As stated prior to the Referendum: “FRSA’s vision for reconciliation is an Australia in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities are safe, recognised, respected and valued.  We are committed to actively listening to the experiences, perspectives and knowledge of First Nations people…..We will continue to support and contribute to Australia’s full reconciliation journey”.

FRSA’s vision and commitment remains resolute.

My thanks to our friends at Emerging Minds for bringing to our attention a range of resources to support children and adults feeling distressed or in need of support in the wake of the Referendum.

As the end of the year looms near, we edge closer to the FRSA AGM which will be held VIRTUALLY on WEDNESDAY, 29 November at 4pm (AEDT).  This year’s AGM will also mark a significant shift in FRSA’s governing body with four Board Directors – Glenda Devlin (Chair), Serge Sardo (Treasurer), Judge Matthew Myers and Megan Mitchell reaching the end of their tenure on the FRSA Board.  The FRSA Board is in active recruitment phase.  I draw your attention to the FRSA Board Director Position Description and accompanying advertisement.

Kind regards,
Jackie Brady
FRSA Executive Director

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FRSA National Conference 2024 - Call for Abstracts OPEN!

FRSA and the sector has been investing time and energy in successfully painting a picture of the ‘value’ of our services.  The FRSA National Conference 2024 provides a platform to showcase and learn from on the ground practice, policy, and research. It will provide an opportunity to consolidate an understanding of our sector’s ‘value add’ and identify the strengths we can build on and the opportunities we can harness.

We welcome abstracts that speak to the conference theme – Family & Relationship Services – Valued now and into the future – in one of the six conference streams.

We are a rich and diverse society, and FRSA encourages presentations that show our sector’s work with different cohorts and communities – First Nations peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse peoples, people with disability and LGBTQI+ people – and other cohorts who may face particular challenges in accessing safe and appropriate services.

The Call for Abstracts closes COB Monday 6 November 2023. For more information, or to submit your Abstract, please visit the FRSA National Conference website here.

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Connection. Strength. Resilience. | Social and Emotional Wellbeing Resources

Aboriginal and Indigenous Health Info Net have created The Connection. Strength. Resilience. portal, which provides a set of resources aimed at supporting resilience and reducing social and emotional harms to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people following the Voice Referendum.

Building Connection, Strength, Resilience is at the heart of these resources, which comprise factsheets, support websites, apps, posters, videos and other critical tools. Visit the Connection. Strength. Resilience portal

Labour Force Status of Families: ABS release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released the latest, June 2023, labour force status of families, which explores how families engage with the labour market.

Key statistics in June 2023 include:

  • There were 7.5 million families, an increase of 1.0 million since June 2013
  • 1 in 7 families were one parent families (14.7%)
  • There were 1.4 million jobless families (18.9%)
  • Of the 6.2 million couple families, 2.4% were same-sex couples
  • 7.8% of families with children under 15 were jobless families.
  • 25.7% of couple families with children aged 0-4 years had both parents working full-time.
  • 76.4% of couple families with children under 15 had mothers who were employed.
  • 22.1% of couple families with children under 15 had one parent employed.
ABS data shows Australian Women are having fewer children

Australian women are having fewer children, and having them later in life according to data released on 18 October by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The total fertility rate has remained lower than the replacement rate (considered to be 2.1 babies per woman to replace her and her partner, in the absence of overseas migration) since 1976. In 2022, this was 1.63 births per woman, which was lower than the 2021 rate of 1.70 births per woman, but higher than the 1.59 births per woman recorded in 2020.

While the overall fertility rate remains low, the fertility rate for women in their lates 30s and early 40s has increased. The fertility rate of mothers aged 35-39 years has almost doubled from 1991 to 2022, and for mothers aged 40-44 years, it has nearly tripled. At the same time, the fertility rate of teenage mothers is at an all-time low of 6.8 births per 1000 women in 2022, from 22.1 births per 1000 women in 1991.

The ABS concludes that the shift towards older parenthood largely follows from young people tending to reach the milestones which usually precede parenthood (i.e. leaving the parental home, gaining economic independence, and marrying or forming long-term de facto relationships) later than was seen in previous decades.

You can view the ABS data here.

National Carers Week 2023

Last week was National Carers Week (15 to 21 October). The theme ‘Millions of Reasons to Care’ aimed to broaden awareness of the 2.65 million Australians caring for family members and friends.

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged. Anyone can become a carer, at any time.

During National Carers Week the Albanese Government announced:

  • It will deliver on a National Carer Strategy, investing $3.8 million through to 2025-26 to develop a coherent national agenda
  • Launch the Carer Inclusive Workplace Initiative to ensure carers are better supported to participate in the workforce
  • Extend Carer Gateway for two years to ensure carers have access to supports they need, knowing they don’t always seek help when caring for a loved one

The National Carer Strategy will deliver on an election commitment. More information on the development of the strategy and consultation process will be available by the end of the year and the Strategy is expected to be delivered by the end of 2024.

The Carer Inclusive Workplace Initiative was an outcome of the Government’s 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit. Partnering with Carers Australia, the Government has provided $2 million over three years to 2024-25 to deliver the Carer Inclusive Workplace Initiative, which will help employers develop and adopt practices that support employees with caring responsibilities.

Carer Gateway helps to connect Australia’s carers with a range of targeted supports, including needs assessment and planning, tailored support packages (with a focus on employment and respite), in-person and phone-based coaching, counselling and peer support, along with emergency respite. Carers are more than twice as likely as other Australians to have low levels of wellbeing, and it’s important they have access to support. On average 20,642 people call the Carer Gateway service each month and 323,938 visit the website.

Foodbank Hunger Report 2023

According to Foodbank Australia’s latest report, Foodbank Hunger Report 2023, 3.7 million households went hungry in Australia in the past year.

Foodbank Australia says the research highlights the cost-of-living crisis as the cause to why 36 percent of Australian households are experiencing food insecurity. With food insecurity now being experienced in homes it has never touched before, 77 percent of food insecure households experienced it for the first time in the past year.

The report confirms the face of hunger is changing. More than half of food insecure households have someone in paid work (60 percent), and those experiencing food insecurity for the first time are younger, with mid to higher incomes.

“We have an increasing number of people struggling to secure adequate food and the housing crisis is only exacerbating the problem, with half of all renters and a third of all mortgage holders food insecure in the last 12 months,” said Foodbank Australia CEO, Brianna Casey.

“We are fast heading towards a reality where more than half the population will know what food insecurity is because they are experiencing it themselves. Almost one in two Australians have felt anxious about accessing adequate food or struggled to consistently access it. In a country where we produce enough food to feed our population three times over, this should not be happening.” Read the full report

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FRSA Board Director – Multiple positions vacant

FRSA is currently seeking to appoint up to four Directors to the FRSA Board.

This is an excellent opportunity for suitably qualified and experienced individuals to join a passionate team on a voluntary basis and help develop and shape an exciting future for children, families and communities in Australia.

Essential skills include the ability to think and influence strategically and a capacity to work collaboratively with other Board members and with the Executive Director.

Appointments will be made based upon the need to ensure that there is an appropriate mix of skills, experience, and diversity on the Board.  While the Board currently boasts a diverse range of experience, we are ideally seeking specific skills, abilities, and experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Strategic Finance, Risk and Governance
  • Legal expertise (i.e. Family Law)
  • Government Relations
  • Strategic Communications

Terms of appointment are for three years with a maximum of three consecutive terms for Board appointed Directors.

Please email your CV and covering letter addressing the requirements referenced above to ExecDirector@frsa.org.au.

View or download the full position description and the full advertisement listing below.

Update from FRSA’s Communities of Practice Project Officer

In August and September FRSA’s refreshed Community of Practice (CoP) Groups came together online for their first 2023-24 sessions. Over 130 practitioners and program managers from Department of Social Services’ Families and Children Activity (FaC) programs attended these sessions. Many 2022-23 participants are continuing their participation having found the CoP experience valuable. While there are many new participants bringing new energy and perspectives to the CoP groups.

The first round of CoP discussions focussed on innovation. Participants shared what innovation means to them and discussed what enables and prevents innovation. Many innovative projects and approaches were shared including:

  • Delivering outreach counselling services to clients experiencing homelessness.
  • Redesigning men’s behaviour change groups to be open groups i.e., new participants can join at any time.
  • Identifying links between adolescent family violence and cyberbullying through research and engaging with local schools and the community so that new programs can be developed for young people.

FRSA has been pleased to see the CoP groups developing into gatherings where participants can regularly come together and share their passions, challenges, and knowledge about the work they do in supporting children, families, and communities. So far CoP discussions have led to connections; highlighted information; showcased innovations; generated ideas; identified challenges and more.

In 2023-24 there are eight CoP groups for the FaC programs — Communities for Children Facilitating Partners, Children and Parenting Support, Family Mental Health Support Services, Family and Relationship Services and Specialised Family Violence Services. Four more rounds of CoP sessions will be held in 2023-24. FRSA is delivering the CoP with the support of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and funding from the Department of Social Services.

If you are interested in joining a CoPs group, please contact FRSA’s Project Officer, Sandra Rabjohns by phone 02 6162 1811 or email projects@frsa.org.au.

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

FRSA recently hosted a webinar presented by Dennis McCarthy from the Centre for International Economics (the CIE). The presentation provided an overview of the cost-benefit analysis approach taken by the CIE for our latest report, Family and Relationship Services Economic Evaluation: Using cost-benefit analysis to assess the value of services. This includes a focus on measuring the wellbeing impacts of interventions rather than a conventional focus on avoided costs to government and he outlined the findings of the study.

Watch the full webinar below:

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First tranche of family law reforms passed by Parliament

On 19 October Parliament passed two pieces of legislation on family law – The Family Law Amendment Bill and the Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023.

Family Law Amendment Bill

These reforms are an important first step in ensuring the best interests of children are prioritised and placed at the centre of the family law system as well as making the family law system easier to navigate.

The new laws also include:

  • requiring Independent Children’s Lawyers to meet directly with children
  • greater powers to protect parties and children from harmful effects of protracted and adversarial litigation
  • a definition of ‘member of the family’ in the Family Law Act that is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of family and kinship
  • simplified compliance and enforcement provisions for child-related orders
  • powers to enable government to regulate family report writers
  • ensuring that children’s voices are heard more easily in matters under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023

The Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023 will ensure courts have access to the full picture of family safety risk to prioritise the safety of children and families, particularly in circumstances where there is risk of child abuse, neglect or family violence. The Bill establishes new information sharing orders to enable courts to quickly seek information from police, child protection and firearms agencies about matters that could place children at risk.

FRSA welcomes the passing of this legislation. We will continue to advocate for broader system change, including education, legislative guidance and increased social and therapeutic supports, and a genuine approach to facilitating children’s participation in family law matters, to complement legislative reform.

As discussed below, the Attorney-General’s Department is now consulting on the second tranche of legislation.

Family Law Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 – public consultation open to 10 November

Consultation on draft family law legislation is underway. 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.

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

FRSA is currently working with a member Advisory Group to develop our submission.

Submissions close 10 November 2023.

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

The Department of Social Services is consulting 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.

Earlier this week, FRSA Executive Director, Jackie Brady, participated in a workshop with other community sector leaders to drill down into the focus areas above. The outcomes of this workshop will feed into the consultation report.

FRSA is currently developing a submission to this inquiry. We also encourage FRSA members and stakeholders to share their expertise, ideas and insights through the submission process.

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

Inquiry on the National Redress Scheme – public hearing

The Joint Standing Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme held its fifth public hearing in Canberra on 20 October for its inquiry into the operation of the National Redress Scheme.

This inquiry opened back on 28 November 2022, but the committee is still accepting submissions. Information about the inquiry, including a discussion paper, published submissions and public hearing transcripts are available here.

National campaign launched to prevent child sexual abuse

On 22 October the Australian Government launched a national campaign aimed at preventing child abuse.

The ‘One Talk at a Time’ campaign is targeted at adults who play an active role in the lives of children and young people and encourages them to have ongoing, proactive and preventive conversations about child sexual abuse. Based on research and testing ‘One Talk at a Time’ demonstrates the power that breaking the culture of silence and shame can have in preventing child sexual abuse.

The campaign is a key measure under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030 and fulfils a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The campaign will run across Australian media and online channels until mid-next year. The campaign materials can be viewed at childsafety.gov.au.

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FRSA Members win at ResiROCKS 2023

Congratulations to FRSA Members who won at the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s 2023 Residential Care Awards (ResiROCKS).

The awards are given each year in recognition of the exceptional work carried out in the field by residential carers. The aim of the awards is to recognise, celebrate and encourage work of the highest standard that contributes to positive outcomes for children and young people living in residential care.

  • Frances Schembri from Anglicare Victoria won the Life Achievement Award.
  • Nick Price from Anglicare Victoria won the Residential Care Learning and Development Strategy (RCLDS) Learning Award.
  • Dani Jeffery from Anglicare Victoria won the RCLDS Leadership Award and Gabrielle Thomas from Berry Street received an honourable mention.
  • Brady Stone from Anglicare Victoria won the Residential Carer Award and Anne Ikkersheim from Berry Street received an honourable mention.
  • Elennah Lino from MacKillop Family Services won the Judges Award for Initiative and Innovation.
  • Anglicare Victoria’s Berwick Residential Care Team won the Residential Care Team Award with Berry Street’s Comans House receiving an honourable mention.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to FRSA Members who’s staff and teams won at the South Australian Child Protection Awards last month. The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of children and young people, carers, volunteers, staff and organisations from across the child protection sector.

Congratulations to:

  • Uniting Communities’ Newpin Team won the Outstanding Service Award: Non-government organisations.
  • Centacare Catholic Country SA’s Emily Ware won the Outstanding Service Award: Regional.
  • Lisa O’Malley, supported by Lutheran Care and Maxine and Stephen Bowden and Sonia and Brenton Smith, supported by Uniting Country SA won South Australian Foster Carer of the Year.
  • AnglicareSA’s Executive General Manager Community Services, Nancy Penna was honoured for 15 years of significant contribution to child protection with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Centacare Catholic Family Services’ Jeannie Alderson and Julia Popkins won the Positive Impact Award.
International Social Service Australia re-launch their International Family Mediation service

International Social Service Australia (ISS Australia) recently announced that they have relaunched their International Family Mediation (IFM) service.

Their IFM service is designed to facilitate productive discussions among separated families, focusing on the needs, welfare, and arrangements for their children. They aim to create a safe place, establish respectful communication guidelines, foster open dialogue and mutual understanding that can pave the way for sustainable and amicable solutions.

What sets their IFM service apart is their participation in the extensive International Social Service (ISS) network. This network with members in over 130 countries enables them to make timely child protection notifications where appropriate, managing risk and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the children involved. Furthermore, they recognise the importance of providing in country support to the overseas parents who may be facing challenges and need additional referrals. Their international reach allows them to offer comprehensive assistance to these parents, ensuring they have access to the resources they need. For additional information visit their website or download the brochure.

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ACOSS survey for people who have used community services

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has developed a short survey for people who have used or accessed community services in the past 12 months.

The survey will inform ACOSS’ contribution to the Department of Social Services consultationA Stronger, More Diverse and Independent Community Sector.

This DSS consultation is an important opportunity to put the voices and expertise of people with lived experience of poverty, disadvantage and hardship at the centre of policy making.

Data collected via the survey, including qualitative responses, will be de-identified and included as part of the ACOSS written submission. Survey closes end Friday 27 October. Click here to complete the survey.

Children's Week 2023

This year’s Children’s Week is on 21 October – 29 October 2023.  Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October.  A diverse range of events and activities are organised at national, state and local levels. These focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

The Children’s Week National Theme for 2023 is based on UNCRC Article 31, Children have the right to relax, play and take part in activities they enjoy.

Find out more about Children’s Week celebrations near you on the Children’s Week website.

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Thu 25

1-2-3 Magic® & Emotion Coaching

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

NSW

Senior Practitioner – Post Separation Services | Relationships Australia Canberra & Region

Community Engagement Officer | Relationships Australia Canberra & Region

QLD

Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner | Relationships Australia Queensland

Local Service Manager | UnitingCare Community

Family Counsellor |  UnitingCare Community

VIC

Team Leader Family Relationship Centre | Mallee Family Care

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) | Mallee Family Care

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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Technology-facilitated abuse: family, domestic and sexual violence – literature scan | Office of the eSafety Commissioner

The eSafety Commissioner is developing a support service to provide practical advice, guidance and support to victims of technology-facilitated abuse. This literature scan has been undertaken as part of a broader co-design process for the development of this proposed support service.

Listening to community voices: perspectives on consultation and engagement from people using disability services | Brotherhood of St Laurence

This study explores the experiences of people with disability, and their partners, carers and allies, who have been involved in consultation and engagement activities as users of services. The researchers found that while various kinds of consultation take place, there is room for improvement in giving service users a voice in how services are designed and delivered and in responding to their insights.

Investigative panel into building and retaining an effective homelessness sector workforce | Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

This research investigates what is needed to build a strong specialist homelessness services sector workforce that will help people experiencing homelessness to access accommodation and get ongoing support.

Influencers and attitudes: how will the next generation understand domestic abuse? | Women’s Aid (UK)

The purpose of this research was to ensure an evidence base for the design of education about relationships for children and young people, highlighting the positive influence that well structured Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) programmes can have, and to ultimately investigate ‘what works well’.

The impact of vaping on adolescent mental health | Australian Institute of Family Studies

This paper provides an overview of what vaping and e cigarettes are and the prevalence of vaping among adolescents. It describes the evidence about the relationship between vaping and mental health and wellbeing for adolescents. It also includes research capturing adolescents’ views and attitudes on vaping and some implications for practice.

Designing gender equality into the future of law: final report | University of Sydney & Australian National University

This research report examines the experience of women in the law, including discrimination, harassment and overwork.

Global report on children with developmental disabilities | World Health Organisation

Using findings from research and practice and guided by the tenets of international human rights conventions, this WHO-UNICEF report provides principles and approaches  to intentionally include the needs and aspirations of children and young people with developmental disabilities in policy, programming and public health monitoring. It makes the case for greater accountability and proposes 10 priority actions to accelerate changes towards inclusive environments and responsive multisectoral care systems for children with developmental disabilities.

The smarter state: between the ‘magic money tree’ and the ‘reform fairy’ | Institute for Public Policy Research

This report has a particular focus on reforming the centre of government and the flow of funding to local places, to enable local services and frontline teams to innovate and drive preventative, personalised and productive services across the United Kingdom.

Duty of care: aged-care sector running on empty | Committee for Economic Development of Australia

This report outlines the causes and flow-on effects of the worker shortage facing Australia’s aged-care sector, in particular low wages, a lack of affordable housing and the impact on the healthcare system.

Listen to her. Act now: the experiences and impact of child abuse on Australian girls | Monash University & Griffith University

This report presents the voices and child abuse experiences of young girls in Australia, detailing their experiences of abuse within the home, and the impacts of family violence on their lives.

Reimagining digital mental health in Australia: discussion paper | Black Dog Institute

This discussion paper explores how technologies like artificial intelligence, tele-health and self-directed mobile apps can be better utilised, alongside face-to-face care, to bridge the gap between people needing mental health support and those able to access it.

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