No. 15, 2021 | 17 September 2021
From FRSA's Executive Director
I am sure that like me, readers have observed the increases and spikes in family and domestic violence over the life of the pandemic with a mixture of despair and frustration. How and when will things change for the better?
Last week I attended the Government-led National Summit on Women’s Safety (more on this below), which will contribute to the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.
I was as interested in the public commentary around the Summit as in the many important discussions at the Summit itself. As I scrolled my newsfeed there was certainly a sense that participants with lived experience were afforded limited space at the (virtual) table and this should concern us all. At the same time, I was palpably moved by presenter, Professor Marcia Langton, who spoke with passion, anger and profound insight about the need for family violence responses to be developed by First Nations women for First Nations women. To this end, it was agreed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must have their own First Nations specific Action Plan to address family safety.
The Final Statement from Summit delegates concluded that, “Listening must continue beyond the Summit, so that all voices are heard and inform the design of actions in the next National Plan”. Indeed. We must listen more deeply and thoughtfully to those with lived experience. We must listen to the communities and cohorts for whom family and domestic violence is shaped in different ways – through intergenerational trauma, colonisation, social and economic marginalisation. And we must acknowledge the unrelenting work of all who strive to support those experiencing – and perpetrating – family violence.
FRSA members work every day with families experiencing, or at risk of, family and domestic violence. In some circumstances our members provide direct domestic and family violence support; in other cases, our members link families into specialist family violence services, while providing family law, counselling, and children and parenting supports. A number of our members work directly with perpetrators of violence – in particular, through the provision of Men’s Behaviour Change Programs.
Yet because much of the funding for family and relationship services is not explicitly earmarked for family and domestic violence support, the work of our members in this space is not always visible to governments or to the public. I take my hat off to you.
FRSA Executive Director
1 in 4 young people facing psychological distress during pandemic
A new joint report by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute has revealed that substantially more young people in Australia are experiencing psychological distress than in 2012. The report also reveals that young people had higher odds of experiencing psychological distress if they identified as female, non-binary, living with disability, or as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
The report explores how young people with mental health challenges think, feel and act by looking at the responses of 25,103 young people who answered the question measuring psychological distress in 2020. It also looks at their help-seeking behaviours – pinpointing the important role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet and apps play as sources of support for young people who are experiencing psychological distress.
Health insights from the first year of COVID-19 in Australia
A new report into the health effects of COVID-19 on Australians during 2020 and early 2021 includes analyses of the years of healthy life lost, international comparisons and impacts on population groups, mental health and the health system.
The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects was released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report found that certain groups in the Australian population experienced higher rates of severe disease and death from COVID-19 during 2020. People living in the lowest socio-economic group were still 2.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in the highest socioeconomic areas.
For mental health, the report found that the initial impacts of the pandemic in Australia appeared to have increased levels of psychological distress, particularly for adults aged 18–45.
Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank – policy paper released
On 31 August, Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank released a policy paper titled COVID-19 and Australia’s Mental Health: Preventing pandemic distress through economic support. The paper provides important insights into Australia’s escalating mental health crisis due the COVID-19 pandemic, with young people experiencing anxiety and depression at record rates.
Government funded economic supports in 2020 such as JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement were instrumental in reducing the impacts of mental ill-health for young Australians. In 2021, the economic impacts of COVID-19 have continued to negatively affect young Australians who are more likely to have casual/insecure employment, less savings and lower wages. In order to protect the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians and provide them with financial security, Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank strongly recommends the urgent introduction of Coronavirus 2021 Supplement and JobKeeper 2.0. As outlined well in the paper, it is “Australia’s responsibility to protect young Australians from the devasting impacts of the current mental health crisis.”
ACNC 2021 Annual Information Statement now available
The 2021 Annual Information Statement has now been released in the ACNC Charity Portal.
Charities that operate on a standard financial year (1 July to 30 June) have until 31 January 2021 to submit their 2021 Annual Information Statement.
National Mediation Conference 2021
The National Mediation Conference 2021 was held virtually last week (8-11 September) offering an engaging conference experience with a rich program of presentations, events and exhibitions. The conference provided an interactive platform for delegates to celebrate and learn from First Nations’ and Indigenous approaches to conflict, dispute management and resolution. In the past, the National Mediation Conference has included Indigenous approaches to conflict but this has not been a focus. However, this year’s conference was the first time Indigenous approaches have been placed as a core focus.
Throughout the conference, many different aspects of dispute resolution were discussed with a range of practical and theoretical perspectives offered. Speakers and delegates both shared important insights into the limitations of service and practice due to limited resources available to those working in this space. The conference also created a space for delegates to network and share knowledge with each other on different insights into peace-keeping, mediation and conflict resolution.
FRSA National Conference 2022 - CALL FOR ABSTRACTS NOW OPEN!
FRSA acknowledges that there is some uncertainty about what Australia’s future will look like in the coming months. We are hopeful, however, that come 16-19 May 2022 we will be in a position to convene the FRSA National Conference in Adelaide. We know the sector is eagerly awaiting the day we are able to meet again for this event, face-to-face, to engage in the rich experience of knowledge and networking that the FRSA National Conference delivers.
The theme for the FRSA National Conference 2022 – Together we can: Connect, Innovate, Transform – captures the spirit, resilience and adaptivity of the family and relationship services sector
As social service organisations we are always at the cutting edge of emerging trends and changes in society – for the Family and Relationship Services Sector, especially for vulnerable children, families and communities.
This last year and a half demonstrated the sector’s ability to adapt and respond like never before. The FRSA Conference presents a great opportunity for you to showcase the work that you do. We welcome abstracts that touch on how Together we can: Connect, Innovate, Transform to achieve better outcomes for Australian children, families and communities. This includes how we can better use technology, be more innovative, build our workforce capacity, and measure and increase our service delivery success. Together, we will also explore new collaborative ways practitioners, policy-makers and researchers can work together, including by taking a more coordinated prevention and early intervention public health approach. FRSA welcomes abstracts reflecting on the theme.
The Call for Abstracts closes COB Monday 1 November 2021. For more information, or to submit your Abstract, please visit the FRSA National Conference website
Stay up to date by subscribing to our Conference and Forum Updates.
National Summit on Women's Safety
On the 6th and 7th of September, The National Summit on Women’s Safety was virtually presented bringing together just under 400 advocates, experts, parliamentarians and survivors, to discuss how we, as a society, can work together to end violence against women and children. The Summit provided an opportunity to reflect on the 2010-2022 National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, with panel discussions outlining priorities for the next National Plan. Topics included, prevention, coercive control, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s experiences, housing, disability, migrant and refugee experiences, and policing responses.
Speakers highlighted the importance of prevention and the need to address the wider social context of gender inequality and its role in enabling gendered violence to take place. The key priorities outlined in the summit are set to underpin the development of the next national plan.
Recordings and transcripts from the Summit are now available online.
Supporting Improvements to the Families and Children Activity – Advisory Group Meetings
Last week FRSA facilitated five advisory group meetings for the second phase of the Department of Social Services (DSS) consultation on supporting improvements to the Families and Children Activity. The advisory groups are comprised of service providers from across the country and were established during the first phase of the consultation through an expression of interest process.
At these meetings, the advisory groups provided feedback on templates, guidance and proposed training and support developed by the department, to ensure that all resources are fit for purpose.
The first phase of the consultation was undertaken over November 2020 to March 2021 and the consultation report was recently published.
FRSA Members at the SA Child Protection Awards
Congratulations to the FRSA members who were winners and finalists at last week’s inaugural South Australian Child Protection Awards.
The Awards celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals who provide vital support to vulnerable children and young people and inspire others to support children and young people in care.
The event recognised the contributions government, non-government and philanthropic partners have made to improve the lives of families, children and young people.
Read the list of winners and finalists below:
- AnglicareSA’s accommodation and support pilot program for young people leaving care, Post Care Pathways won the “Transition to Independence” category. Read more.
- Centacare Catholic Country SA’s Katina Karam was named Foster Carer of the Year for providing a safe, loving and enriching home for the children and young people in her care. Read more.
- Eric Cruz from Centacare Catholic Family Services won in the “Media” category for his work in promoting and developing innovative media opportunities to showcase and raise community awareness about the role of foster carers through Centacare’s Circle of Care campaign.
- Centacare Catholic Family Services’s Aboriginal Cultural Consultant, Les Wanganeen won the metropolitan Kinship Carer of the Year for providing a safe, loving and enriching home for the children and young people in his care. Read more.
- Centacare Catholic Country SA were finalists in the “Supporting families to stay together” and the “Innovation in child protection – Regional” categories for its contribution and commitment as a partner agency in supporting vulnerable children and families through the Child and Family Safety Network in the Ceduna, Port Lincoln and Whyalla areas.
- Uniting Communities were finalists in the “Innovation in child protection – Metropolitan” category for their Jo’s Therapeutic Youth Residential Care service that provides therapeutic care for young people in care.
- Relationships Australia SA’s GOM Central and Ngartuitya Family Group Conference services were nominated as finalists for the “Transition to Independence” category. GOM Central is an online platform providing a digital community space and resources to support young care leavers.
- Key Assets were a finalist in the “Media” category for their work in developing innovative training approaches for foster carers through the use of virtual reality to convey the traumatic experiences of children who have experienced abuse.
- Dr Jackie Amos and the Reunification Team from Centacare Catholic Family Services were finalists in the “Excellence in child protection research” category for their therapeutic model of casework that integrates research into practice to assist children and young people at risk to return to their families.
- Centacare Catholic Family Services foster carers Bindee Davis and Karen Weeks were finalists in the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement” Principle category for advocating for and supporting the cultural connections of the Aboriginal children in their care.
Families Australia announces appointment of new CEO
Families Australia has announced that Jamie Crosby has been appointed as the new CEO following the retirement of Dr Brian Babington AM.
Mr Crosby will commence in the role at the beginning of October and has experience in not-for-profit leadership, public service and community advocacy.
Across his career, Jamie has worked in youth and family accommodation services, justice, housing and homelessness support programs, and organisations delivering community services management and public advocacy. He also has deep experience in the federal public service and spent the past decade working in the Indigenous Affairs sector. His current and recent roles in the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has provided an important grounding in areas of public policy. Read more.
ACOSS Australian Community Sector Survey 2021
Take part in ACOSS’ 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey to help the community sector advocate for its future, the people it supports and its staff. The Survey takes roughly 10-15 minutes to complete. All paid staff in community sector organisations in Australia are invited to participate.
The survey closes on Friday 24th September 2021. Click here to complete the survey
What do lockdowns and school holidays have in common? Time to play!
Play time will have a knock-on effect throughout children’s lives. Research shows that parent-child play is a lynchpin in a child’s trajectory. And parents need to know how to support the child’s developmental needs especially when thinking about those 5 year-olds getting ready for big school.
The Family Action Centre has developed DadPlay, a free SMS program for dads, that sends tailored dad info and tips to fathers’ phones, and focusses specifically on the father-child bond, young children’s growth and family relationships. Dads’ play is one way to help youngsters learn social and emotional skills that will make the school transition easier. Read their recent blog from Father’s Day.
Professionals: If you would like to experience 5 days of the messages (free) please text “Taster” to 0488 824 230.
Dads can join by texting “DadPlay” to 0488 824 230.
Raise the Rate lockdown survey
Raise the Rate are running a survey for people who received income support and are currently or have previously been in lockdown for a new report. The survey takes five minutes to complete, please feel free to share throughout your networks. Complete the survey here.
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. We also encourage you to share this information with your client base if you feel that it would be of interest to them. Click here to complete the survey.
Family Law Professionals about Post-Separation Parenting Apps
Professor Bruce Smyth (Australian National University) and his colleagues are currently investigating which co-parenting smartphone apps (or app features) can benefit separated families. These apps are designed to help separated parents manage their post-separation parenting arrangements, and typically comprise a communication tool, expense tracker and shared calendar. The research team would like to hear from family law professionals (FDRPs, mediators, lawyers, mental health specialists etc) with or without any experience with post-separation parenting apps.
Participation in this project is voluntary. The web-survey is anonymous, and takes about 10-12 minutes.
If you’re willing to participate please click here.
Couple and Family Counsellor | Relationships Australia NSW
Program Coordinator – Groupwork (CALD and Family Violence) | Relationships Australia NSW
Counsellor/Caseworker | Relationships Australia NSW
Men’s Family Violence Pathways Practitioner/s -South East Melbourne | Relationships Australia Victoria
Paid parental leave should be substantially boosted for fathers and partners to support men to be more engaged in the early years of their children’s lives, according to this Grattan Institute report.
Rapid evidence review: violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability | Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
This report outlines evidence that describes experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities, with the aim of preventing this from occurring, and providing better support.
Exploring the decline in wellbeing for Australian girls | Commissioner for Children and Young People (WA)
This report examines the research and data across a range of young females’ wellbeing measures, including physical health, mental health, education, social media and safety.
Understanding discrimination effects in private rental housing | Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
This research examines discrimination and existing policy, law and practice in Australia’s private rental sector, including the impact of informal tenancies and the increasing role of digital technologies.
‘Supported, educated and understood’ | ReachOut Australia
This report aims to shine a light on the everyday lives of regional, rural and remote young people, their strengths and challenges, their mental health, and the impact ReachOut has in improving their mental health and wellbeing.
This short article presents what digital inclusion and exclusion are, the evidence on what works to respond to the digital divide, and what this means for service managers and program planners.
Understanding preparedness and recovery | Australian Red Cross
Emergency recovery goes beyond survival. It is a complex process with potentially long-lasting impacts on people’s lives. Within research, policy and practice, there is a widespread assumption that preparing for a disaster has a positive impact on recovery. This report examines the emergency experiences of 165 people who lived through a disaster between 2008 and 2019.
This resource aims to address this gap by summarising the latest research and best-practice principles on parenting during separation; sharing personal experiences from parents who have engaged with a range of practitioners during separation; and outlining practice ideas on what practitioners who are not specialised in family dispute resolution or counselling can do when speaking with separating families. It steps practitioners through different conversation scenarios, ranging from making simple inquiries about daily life to discussing more difficult issues like family violence.
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