No. 17, 2021 | 14 October 2021
From FRSA's Executive Director
From a Governance perspective, this is the time of year that FRSA’s Board nomination and election process takes place. I can advise that the FRSA Board Director nominations process has closed delivering an uncontested result with all four incumbent FRSA Board Directors whose two year term was expiring at the next AGM being returned to the Board for a further two years. Congratulations to Glenda Devlin, Serge Sardo, Leanne Strommen and Allison Wainwright! They will be formally appointed as FRSA Board Directors at the FRSA AGM being held virtually on 19 November, 2021 at 12:00pm (AEDT) – more information below.
Following from World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the Australian Government released the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy (see more below).
The Strategy’s focus on the importance of early support and prevention and the role of family and community in children’s lives has been rightly applauded. The Strategy emphasises the importance of empowering families to support the mental health and wellbeing of children as well as community-based approaches, recognising that social and economic conditions impact mental health and wellbeing.
Our sector delivers a range of children, parenting and family support services and is, of course, keenly aware that community interventions and early work with new parents and with young children is integral to building protective factors in those children – particularly kids in high risk/vulnerable communities. We know that poor child-parent attachment, childhood trauma, and sustained parental conflict, for example, present risks to child development and mental health and may lead to problems down the track such as mental illness, substance abuse, school failure and so on.
I certainly look forward to opportunities for our sector to be better recognised and therefore able to play a more integrated role with the health and education sectors to support the mental health and wellbeing of children. In particular, I point to an important service, recently moved under the auspices of the Department of Social Service’s Family and Children (FaC) Activity, that receives little public attention for the vital role it plays offering family-based mental health interventions in a system that is largely geared towards standalone treatment of the ‘individual’. This service is Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS), which is currently delivered across close to 200 sites in Australia.
FMHSS providers work with children and young people with the support of their families and carers and provide a flexible range of non-clinical mental health support services that are tailored to the needs of each child, young person and family.
On a different but not unrelated point, it is also National Carers Week. So many in our community are in a caring role – in many cases this is for children or other family members with mental health concerns. There are currently 2.65 million Australians who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends! This is truly something to recognise and celebrate.
With the country opening up and coming out of lockdown we’re looking forward to the FRSA National Conference next May. A reminder the Conference abstract process is open until the end of the month.
FRSA Executive Director
National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy launched
On 12 October, the Morrison Government launched the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
The Strategy was developed by the National Mental Health Commission as part of the Australian Government’s long-term national health plan. This is the first time a national government has developed a strategy that considers mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children from birth to 12 years of age, as well as their families and communities.
The Strategy has four focus areas to outline the requirements for an effective system of care for children:
- Family and Community
- Service System
- Education Settings
- Evidence and Evaluation
The Strategy, a summary document, tip sheet and a stakeholder kit are available on the National Mental Health Commission website.
Children globally struggling after lockdowns averaging six months
Children around the world have stayed indoors for an average of six months since the start of the pandemic, with growing concerns about rising levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness and even self-harm.
New analysis by Save the Children, using data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, reveals that children globally have lived under required and recommended nationwide lockdowns for an average of six months, or 184 days since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020.
On average Australian children spent 60 days in lockdown, however the figure varies dramatically across states and territories. Children in Melbourne have spent 251 days in lockdown since the start of the pandemic and for many children the pandemic is compounding significant existing challenges. This includes children who experienced the 2019-20 bushfires and are still only in the early stages of psychological recovery. It also includes children who were already struggling to engage with learning and/or experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or other complexity in their circumstances. Read more.
New AHRC campaign on the warning signs of elder abuse
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched a new video campaign to raise awareness for the warning signs of elder abuse. In Australia, it is estimated that between 2% and 14% of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, according to a 2016 research report conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Unfortunately, elder abuse is becoming an increasing concern due to the unprecedented growth rates of Australia’s aging population. It is predicted that in 2050, over a fifth of Australia’s population will be over the age of 65.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has also increased social isolation for many older Australians, making elder abuse harder to identify. The new video campaign aims to help everyday Australians recognise the warning signs of elder abuse and provides information on where to find support. Confidential support and information is available from the Nation Elder Abuse phone line on 1800 353 374.
You can find the campaign video here.
CBA announces new technology to address technology-facilitated abuse:
The Commonwealth Bank has announced that it will be utilising artificial intelligence technology and machine learning techniques to assist in identifying technology-facilitated abuse on its platforms. The new technology is set to detect abusive language in transaction descriptions and builds on the existing ‘block filter’ implemented in July 2020 which prevented transactions that used abusive language. It is set to provide a more targeted response to abusive behaviour, designed to address the shortcomings of the ‘block filter’ which was found to be easily circumvented by using shortened words and symbols. Justin Tsuei, General Manager Community and Customer Vulnerability stated that “it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to provide the right measures of protection across our channels”.
Guide to measuring loneliness
Ending Loneliness Together has released a guide for community organisations looking to evaluate programs designed to reduce loneliness. The guide covers how services can approach measuring loneliness as well as ways to distinguish between loneliness and social isolation.
This guide provides practical and validated information and tips about which measures to use to evaluate your service, including two recommended brief and valid measures of loneliness. By measuring loneliness, providerswill be able to produce clear and accurate evidence of what works, and what does not, in order to make informed decisions for services and service users. View the full guide
Good360 Australia, is a Not for Profit, and Australia’s largest online marketplace where business’ can donate their brand-new surplus stock which is then matched to people in need Australia-wide.
Good360 membership provides Not for Profits and disadvantaged schools access to brand new goods from well-known retail brands to help your community. Goods ordered via the website can be used to support your operations or to help the community you serve. The goods are free, all you pay is a small shipping and handling cost to get them delivered direct to your door. To see how Good360 membership has benefited their member charities and schools read their Impact stories here.
All ACNC registered charities or schools with a ISCEA under 1000 can register for free via their website. You can register today by entering your email under ‘new to Good360’ section via this link.
If you have any questions about how to register or their service contact their team at email@example.com or 02 8594 3600.
FRSA National Conference 2022 - CALL FOR ABSTRACTS CLOSE IN TWO WEEKS!
Only two more weeks left to submit your abstract to the FRSA National Conference 2022 next year in Adelaide on 16-19 May 2022.
The theme for the Conference – 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.
ABS Labour Force Status of Families
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the latest annual data for the ‘Labour Force Status of Families’, which explores how Australian families engage in the labour market. The data was collected in June 2021 and therefore does not capture the significant effects from the lockdowns that occurred in VIC, ACT and NSW from July onwards. However, some of the key statistics include:
- There were 7.3 million families, an increase of 1 million since June 2011
- 1 in 7 families were one parent families (15.0%)
- There were 1.4 million jobless families (19.5%)
- Of the 6.1 million couple families, 1.6% were same-sex couples.
You can find a breakdown of family types, ages, characteristics and by state and territory here.
$150 million compliance cost for charity sector in the first year
Independent modelling by ACIL Allen has found that the sector-wide compliance cost for the new ACNC regulations could be up to $150m in the first year alone. That’s more than 100 times what the Treasury indicated in their regulatory impact statement. Even the lower bound estimate of $78m is a staggering cost that the sector can’t afford for regulations that achieve no public-policy benefit.
FRSA has outlined its concerns about the harsh new regulations in previous editions of the eBulletin and in a letter to all parliamentarians. If enacted, these new regulations would mean that charities could be deregistered for even the most minor offences.
Not only will the new regulations inhibit the charitable sector’s capacity to give a voice to the most vulnerable and marginalised, the ACIL Allen modelling shows that compliance costs of the new regulations will hit the sector hard.
Senators will have the opportunity to disallow the Government’s regulation when Parliament resumes later this month.
FRSA Board Appointments
The 2021 FRSA Board Nomination process which closed Friday 8 October at 4pm (AEDT) has resulted in an equal number of nominees for the number of positions vacant on the Board. As such, no election will be required and all eligible nominees will be appointed to the FRSA Board.
FRSA welcomes re-elected Directors:
- Glenda Devlin, General Manager – Community Services, Anglicare Sydney
- Serge Sardo, CEO, Better Place Australia
- Leanne Strommen, General Manager, Centrecare Inc
- Allison Wainwright, CEO, Family Life
You can find out more about them and what they intend to bring to the FRSA Board by clicking on their names above to read the statements they submitted in support of their nominations.
The re-elected Directors will have their appointment ratified at this year’s FRSA AGM being held at 12:00pm (AEDT) on 19 November 2021. These appointments are for a two year term and will expire at the AGM held in 2023.
A formal notice of AGM meeting will be sent out to the members but I do hope you or a delegate from your organisation will be available to attend this year’s virtual AGM.
Interrelate launches new Family Law Social Enterprise
Interrelate has launched a new social enterprise, I relate. Collaborative Family Law, to address extensive wait times for Australian families going through separation.
The new social enterprise will provide full or partial services in alternative dispute methods to either support a case, or provide parties with full legal support. They aim to help families reach legally binding outcomes using a timely, affordable process that focuses on the family’s wellbeing whilst preserving their asset pool. Find out more.
Cafs win Community Impact Award
Child and Family Services Ballarat (Cafs) recently won the Ballarat Foundation Community Impact Award at the Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards.
The aim of the awards is to showcase, celebrate and support local businesses in all they have achieved in 2020, from growth to creativity to survival.
The award recongised their ongoing commitment to, and advocacy for, inclusivity and diversity in their community. Congratulations to the Cafs team! Watch the video of their win below:
Mission Australia CEO announces resignation
Mission Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, James Toomey has announced he will step down from his role by March 2022.
Mr Toomey has worked at Mission Australia since 2010 and was appointment as CEO in November 2017. After 11 years at the organisation, and four as CEO, Mr Toomey feels it is the right time to move on.
Under his leadership, Mission Australia has established a new 20-25 Strategy with the goal to end homelessness and ensure people and communities in need can thrive. Mission Australia has divested a number of non-strategic programs to focus on its core strengths which includes building new youth drug and alcohol services in Cairns and Batemans Bay, a new Mission Australia Centre at Coffs Harbour, increasing its housing footprint providing more homes and support for those who need it most and continuing to be a strong voice to governments for the people we serve. Read more.
Children's Week 2021
Children’s Week is on 23-31 October 2021. The week is a national celebration of children’s rights, talents and citizenship held on the fourth Wednesday of October in Australia to coincide with Universal Children’s Day. Each year the theme of Children’s Week highlights a particular Children’s Right.
The theme for 2021 is Article 15 – ‘Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.”
Children’s Week 2021 is a wonderful opportunity to promote the rights of children and young people, and to celebrate their capacity to actively contribute to the world around them.
Find out more or how to get involved via the Children’s Week Council of Australia’s website.
ANU post-separation parenting app evaluation
Thanks to our members who completed the short anonymous web survey about post-separation parenting smartphone apps (apps that offer a communication tool, expense tracker and shared calendar for separated parents).
Unfortunately, the response to the survey has not been strong and the research team has asked us to send this reminder. The survey is designed to represent a diversity of views and experiences, including the views of professionals who don’t use or don’t know much about these apps. The team is keen to hear about what family law professionals might want from these apps in their work with separated parents.
Participation in this project is voluntary. The web-survey is anonymous, and takes about 10-12 minutes. If you can help please click here.
Many thanks on behalf of Professor Bruce Smyth and the research team.
Senior Clinician- Post Separation Services | Relationships Australia Canberra & Region
Specialist Lead – Counselling | CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay
Regional Operations Manager, NT | Anglicare NT
Family Violence Pathways Practitioner (Mens) | Relationships Australia Victoria
Independent Chairperson – headspace Wonthaggi Consortium | Relationships Australia Victoria
Manager, People and Culture Partnering | CatholicCare Victoria
Case Manager, Integrated Family Services | CatholicCare Victoria
Family Safety Counsellor | Relationship Matters
COVID income support: analysis of income support in the COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 | Australian Council of Social Service
This report analyses a range of interactive maps, prepared to provide the first geographic snapshot of people on income support payments who also received COVID-specific income support payments across the country in the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, the ‘Alpha’ wave. The maps also show those on the lowest income support payments during this year’s 2021 ‘Delta’ wave, many of whom have not received any additional COVID income supports, in contrast to 2020.
Screen time: the effects on children’s emotional, social, and cognitive development | Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures
The document explores the evidence on how screen time affects children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development.
Shock troops of the pandemic: casual and insecure work in COVID and beyond | Centre for Future Work
The research outlined in this briefing paper confirms that Australian workers in casual and insecure jobs have borne the lion’s share of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic – both the first lockdowns in 2020, and the more recent second wave of closures.
What works to improve young children’s social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing? | Child Family Community Australia
This rapid evidence review identifies national and international prevention and early intervention programs that are effective at improving the social, emotional and behavioural health of at-risk children under the age of five.
COVID-19 and Australia’s mental health: preventing pandemic distress through economic supports | Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank
This policy paper outlines how economic insecurity, unemployment, or concern about becoming unemployed, are key drivers of mental distress for all Australians.
COVID-19 and Australia’s mental health: an overview of academic literature, policy documents, lived experience accounts and community reports | Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank
This report ties together multiple streams of knowledge to present an overview of the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and resultant policy measures.
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