FRSA eBulletin, No. 7, 2024

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No. 7, 2024 | 3 June 2024

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From FRSA's Executive Director

As National Reconciliation Week 2024 draws to a close I am pleased to announce our intention to host a webinar series in the 2nd half of this year to showcase presentations from our recent FRSA National Conference delivered by or in partnership with First Nations peoples. We certainly had a strong line up of presentations with a First Nations focus at Conference and we look forward to bringing these insights and learnings to a broader audience.

The National Reconciliation Week theme for 2024, Now More Than Ever, is a reminder that the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue. I take this opportunity to reiterate FRSA’s commitment to reconciliation. Our vision for reconciliation is an Australia in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities are safe, recognised, respected and valued.

It is now 2 weeks since we held our FRSA National Conference 2024 at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung peoples. It is always exciting to see months of planning and preparation come to fruition and to witness the sharing of ideas, practices and experiences. With over 600 delegates attending across the course of the conference the buzz in the air has stayed with me as we commence planning for 2025! There will be news on that in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoy reading the Conference 2024 highlights below. Keep an eye on the Conference webpage –  in the next few weeks we’ll be uploading presentation slides where we have permission to do so and the photo gallery is already uploaded and ready for viewing. I also remind readers that the Conference e-Journal is published on our website. I encourage you to read this exciting collection of papers.

Bringing this huge event to the membership did mean it was all hands on deck and we did not deliver our usual ‘Federal Budget Membership Preliminary Analysis’ on Budget night itself but have issued a post Budget summary through the ‘FRSA lens’ for the benefit of our members.

Kind regards,
Jackie Brady
FRSA Executive Director

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FRSA National Conference 2024 - Family and Relationship Services - Valued now and into the future

FRSA held its annual National Conference at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park, 13-16 May, on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung peoples.

It is always a pleasure to bring the sector together to share research, practice learnings and insights and we were thrilled to have a new record number of more than 630 delegates join us for this year’s conference. Practitioners, academics and policy makers working to support children, families and communities came together to share and explore our sector’s value and our sector’s potential.

The week started with five well subscribed pre-Conference workshops:

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Workshop – Dadirri: Ancient Aboriginal Mindfulness Traditions presented by We Al-li
  • Communities for Children Facilitating Partner (CfC FP) Workshop
  • Family Law Workshop
  • LGBTIQA+ Family Practice presented by Drummond Street Services
  • Using evidence to paint a picture: Finding opportunities for learning, growth and sharing the success of child and family services facilitated by the Child and Family Evidence team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

On Tuesday 14 May, we were honoured to have Wurundjeri man, Colin Hunter Jnr Jnr, provide a Welcome to Country.

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Minister for Social Services welcomed delegates via a pre-recorded message, due to it being a parliamentary sitting week and Budget night. This was followed by a keynote address from Sarina Lacey and Dennis McCarthy from The Centre for International Economics. As the key authors of FRSA’s commissioned report, Family and Relationship Services Economic Evaluation: Using cost-benefit analysis to assess the value of services, they spoke on Demonstrating the Value of Family and Relationship Services – the Economic analysis.

Our first panel discussion – Under the microscope: The importance of knowing and communicating our value – was chaired by FRSA’s Executive Director, Jackie Brady and brought diverse perspectives to the discussion topic8. Panellists included:

  • Emily MacLoud, Design Strategist, Portable
  • Dr Stewart Muir, Executive Manager of the Child & Family Evidence, Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Nyea Pritchard, The Zone Intersectional Youth Alcohol and other Drug Service – Community Engagement and Development Worker, Drummond Street Services
  • Veronica Westacott, Branch Manager for Family Policy, Department of Social Services

During morning tea our next Keynote Speaker, Journalist, Broadcaster and Author, Julia Baird greeted delegates during a book signing. Her keynote presentation Bright Shining: How grace changes everything, brought a refreshing change in tone and focus and was a reminder of the importance of finding and celebrating moments of awe.

Day two of the Conference opened with another great plenary line-up. Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfuss KC MP provided a pre-recorded address outlining his support for a more child focused family law system, the work of family law practitioners and for the FRSA National Conference.

This was followed by a keynote address by Tania Farha, CEO of Safe and Equal titled, Family Violence reform in Victoria – still a leading light or fading embers?

Panel discussion two – How early intervention can ‘change the trajectory’ for individuals and families at risk of family violence was chaired by Dr Rae Kaspiew, Australian Institute of Family Studies and brought together four panellists to respond to reflect on the potential of our sector’s early intervention work in mitigating family violence. Panellists included:

  • Judge Alexandra Harland, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
  • Karen Bevan, CEO, Full Stop Australia
  • Phillip Ripper, CEO, No to Violence
  • Allison Wainwright, CEO, Family Life

The great richness and diversity of the sector was showcased each and every day in the concurrent session program. With 70 presentations and five symposiums, symposiums delivered by FRSA members and stakeholders, we felt privileged to bring this part of the program to delegates. Slides from these presentations will be made available via the FRSA Conference page subject to author permission. Keynote presentations and the Panel Discussions will be uploaded to FRSA’s YouTube channel in the coming weeks.

The Conference closed with an engaging and thought provoking fireside chat hosted by FRSA’s Jackie Brady with advocate, activist and survivor, Grace Tame. Grace sharing her story of courage and dedication to advocacy work to prevent and respond to sexual abuse of children and others, was impressive and moving.

Gala dinner

The work our sector does is deeply rewarding but also challenging. The Conference Gala Dinner provides an opportunity to come together, relax and celebrate all that the sector has achieved over the previous year. This year’s dinner was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the Members Dining Room with more than 400 Delegates registered!

We were delighted to have Djirri Djirri – the only Wurundjeri female dance group – start the evening with an acknowledgement to country and performance; providing an insight into local First Nations culture by sharing ancient knowledge through traditional songs, stories, and dance.

Local band, the Baker Boys Band kept people dancing till the reluctant close of the evening!

Conference e-Journal

This year we were thrilled to publish a conference e-Journal, which was released at the close of the event. The 2024 e-Journal features 7 papers – 3 Articles and 4 Practice Insights papers – covering diverse topics that speak to particular cohorts at different stages through the lifecourse. The e-Journal showcases a breadth of practice wisdom, research evidence and insights that reflect our sector’s value and our sector’s potential. The result is an exciting collection of papers that will provoke thought and inspire action across the sector and more broadly.

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Early Years Strategy launched

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Minister for Social Services, and the Hon Dr Anne Aly MP, Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth, launched the Early Years Strategy 2024-2034 on 7 May 2024.

Recognising how critical the early years are for children’s development and continued success over their lifetime, the Strategy articulates how the Australian Government will prioritise and support child-centred policy development, and target investment in early years supports and services over the next 10 years.

The government consulted over 2023 and early 2024 to develop the strategy. The Strategy will be delivered through action plans and measured against an outcomes framework. These are yet to be developed.

Five principles will help guide how the Australian Government will work to support children and families in the early years:

  • Child- and family-centred
  • Strengths-based
  • Respect for families and communities
  • Equitable, inclusive and respectful of diversity
  • Evidence-informed.

You can find out more about the Strategy here.

Marriage Act amended to enable remote witnessing

The Marriage Act 1961 has been amended to allow a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) to be witnessed via videoconferencing. This means couples will no longer have to make two trips to see the celebrant in person. Remote witnessing will be especially convenient for couples travelling from interstate for their weddings, as well those in rural, remote or regional parts of Australia. A remote witnessing option was put in place as a temporary measure in response to COVID-19. This amendment makes it permanent.

There’s no change on the day itself, with the couple, the authorised celebrant and two official witnesses all required to be there, in person, on the day of the marriage.

You can see the Attorney-General’s media release here.

Violence against women – rapid review into prevention approaches

The Albanese Government has established an Expert Panel to conduct a rapid review into best practice prevention approaches to violence against women.

The Panel will:

  • Provide practical advice to Government on further action to prevent gender-based violence.
  • Look at opportunities to strengthen prevention efforts and approaches across all forms of violence against women and children, with a focus on homicide.
  • Consider targeted approaches to preventing violence, with a focus on identifying what works across the life cycle and for different groups of people.
  • Engaging with determinants, risk factors, pathways and intersecting factors for gender-based violence, including different and emerging forms of violence, and the role of key industries.
  • Whole of system opportunities for prevention and intervention, including stronger accountability and consequences for people who choose to use violence.
  • Opportunities to effect attitudinal change and accelerate progress to prevent violence against women and children, including at a local level.

The Panel will be co-convened by Australia’s Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner, Ms Micaela Cronin, the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Office for Women, Ms Padma Raman PSM, and the Secretary of the Department of Social Services, Mr Ray Griggs AO CSC.

The Expert Panel includes:

  • Jess Hill – journalist, author and educator globally renown for ground-breaking work on gendered-violence
  • Dr Zac Seidler – Global Director of Men’s Health Research at Movember and Senior Research Fellow with Orygen at the University of Melbourne
  • Dr Todd Fernando – diversity and inclusion consultant with extensive experience working with First Nations and LGBTIQ+ communities
  • Dr Anne Summers AO – author and journalist who had a formative role in the Women’s Liberation Movement in Australia, including the establishment of Australia’s first refuge for women and child victims of domestic violence
  • Elena Campbell – Associate Director of Research, Advocacy and Policy at RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice
  • Dr Leigh Gassner APM – Assistant Commissioner at Victoria Police who has managed significant cultural and organisational change processes, including undertaking a previous review of policing responses into violence against women.

Research by ANROWS will complement the work of the Expert Panel. A final report is expected later this year.

Review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership – report released

The report on the independent review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-2025 (NLAP) has been released.

In June 2023 Dr Warren Mundy was appointed to undertake the independent review of the NLAP, which is an agreement between the Australian Government and states and territories for the provision of Australian Government legal assistance funding. The NLAP provides funding to Legal Aid Commissions (LACs), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), and Community Legal Centres (CLCs) to provide legal assistance to Australia’s most vulnerable people.

The report concludes that current funding levels are insufficient to meet Australia’s legal assistance needs and makes 39 recommendations to inform the future funding arrangements when the current NLAP expires on 30 June 2025. The Reviewer’s Foreword is to the point and includes observations that resonate with the experience of other government funded sectors including the family relationship services sector – for example, funding not keeping pace with the real costs of service delivery.

The review drew on evidence from a range of sources, including published literature, workforce data analysis, government reports and inquiries, and consultation with stakeholders across jurisdictions. Further information about the consultation process, including submissions received, are available on the Attorney-General’s Department Consultation hub. FRSA’s submission to the NLAP review is available on the Consultation Hub and our website.

2024 National Working Families Survey – findings released

The results of the National Working Families Survey, which was conducted by Parents At Work and UNICEF Australia and completed by over 6,200 working parents and carers, were released on 30 May.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 74% of women & 47% of men reported feeling stressed balancing work and family commitments
  • 50% of respondents say an employee’s commitment to their job is questioned if they used family-friendly working arrangements
  • 28% of working parents and carers say they have considered leaving their job in the next 12 months due to difficulties combining their job with caring responsibilities
  • 41% of women and 29% of men said they need better access to childcare
  • 41% of parents report their parental leave being too short (45% of men, 39% of women)
  • The biggest challenge for parents and carers remains managing their physical and mental health.
  • Workplace cultures still predominantly support men as the primary income earners and women as primary caregivers.

Information about the survey and the survey report are available here.

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Submission to Cost of Living Inquiry

FRSA’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Cost of Living, which was lodged in March this year, has been published on the Committee’s website (submission no. 161) and is also available on FRSA’s website.

The Select Committee was established on 28 September 2022 and tabled an interim report in May 2023. The call for submissions was subsequently extended and a second interim report was published in May 2024. The second interim report, which sought to focus on solutions that address cost of living pressures, failed to achieve committee consensus with dissenting reports from Labor and Australian Greens committee members respectively.

The Australian Greens dissenting report recommended that the Government lift the base rate of all income support payments in the 2024 Budget – a recommendation in keeping with the views of many across the community, business and academic sectors, including FRSA, and the Government’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee. Unfortunately, the Budget did not deliver in this regard.

The Committee’s final report is due 15 November 2024 and the closing date for submissions has received a further extension to 30 October 2024.

Inquiry into Australia's Human Rights Framework – report tabled

On 30 May 2024, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights tabled its inquiry report regarding Australia’s Human Rights Framework.

The committee has made 17 recommendations, including that the government re-establish and significantly improve Australia’s Human Rights Framework, which should include:

  • comprehensive and effective protection of human rights in legislation, through the establishment of a Human Rights Act
  • a significant and ongoing commitment to national human rights education
  • requirements for public servants to fully consider human rights in the development of legislation and policies
  • enhancements to human rights parliamentary scrutiny
  • enhancements to the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • review of Australia’s legislation, policies and practices for compliance with human rights
  • measures to monitor progress on human rights.

The committee’s report, and information about the inquiry, are available on the committee’s inquiry webpage.

Report on Government Services – mid-year release

The Report on Government Services (RoGS) provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia. The 2024 RoGS was progressively released between 22 January and 5 February 2024. A mid-year data update aims to improve the timeliness of information in the RoGS and was released on 28 May 2024. The mid-year release provides new data for a sub-set of indicators in the following sections:

You can find more information on the Report on Government Services here.

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Communities for Children Facilitating Partners National Forum – video released

Communities for Children Facilitating Partners from across Australia gathered in Adelaide from 6-7 March 2024 for a 2-day forum. The group shared positive stories of their work, the importance of community collaboration in improving the wellbeing of children and families and the future directions of place-based programs.

The Forum was organised by the following Facilitating Partners and FRSA members:

  • Camilla Krauze Anglicare NT
  • Clare Moynihan The Smith Family – Perth
  • Karen Russell The Smith Family – Sydney
  • Sue Christophers Anglicare SA – Adelaide
  • Stacey Milbourne Salvos – Tasmania
  • Liana Harding Salvos – Tasmania
  • Amanda Hunt 54 Reasons – Perth

A video snapshot of the Forum has been released.

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AIFS' new Research Director, Systems and Services

Kira Duggan has been announced as the new Research Director, Systems and Services at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)

L-R: Dr Rae Kaspiew and Kira Duggen

Kira will commence on Tuesday 11 June, ahead of Dr Rae Kaspiew’s retirement on 30 June 2024.

Kira joins AIFS from the Victorian Department of Education, where she led the Evaluation and Program Impact Branch. Before this role she was an Associate Director in KPMG’s Health Ageing and Human Services practice. Kira has worked extensively with child, youth and family services, relevant peak bodies, the Aboriginal community-controlled sector, and lived experience representatives in the commissioning and conduct of initiatives with an evaluative focus.

FRSA would like to thank Rae for all the work she’s done for the Family and Relationship Sector over the years and wishes her all the best for the future. We also look forward to working with Kira in her new role. Read more.

Monique Earsman stepping down from CSSA

Last month Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) announced that Executive Director, Monique Earsman will be stepping down from her role , effective from May 31, 2024. Monique has accepted a new opportunity as the Director of Operations at the Australian Labor Party National Office.

Monique was with CSSA for three and a half years and was pivotal in rebuilding the office’s capacity, initially operating as the sole staff member and gradually forming a robust team committed to their mission.

CSSA’s Government Relations and Policy Officer, Ron Johnson, currently will serve as Acting Executive Director as they begin the recruitment process.

FRSA wishes Monique all the best in her new role. Read more.

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Say hi to us at the AIFS Conference 2024

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) 2024 Conference, Families Thriving? Asking big questions. Influencing change, is on from 11-14 June at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Conference is now sold out and the program offers a strong line-up of renowned experts and professionals from a range of disciplines to showcase important research related to family wellbeing.

The FRSA team is excited to be attending. We have an exhibition booth at the Conference so if you are attending the Conference please drop by and say hello to the team at booth no. 4 during the conference.

Men's Health Week

International Men’s Health Week celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and takes place from 10-16 June 2024.

Men’s Health Week is a great opportunity for organisations, workplaces, and communities to focus on some of the different ways we can keep men and boys healthier. This year Healthy Male and Western Sydney University are championing ‘Good Health Heroes’, a new campaign that promotes a number of healthy habits men can consider adopting in order to increase their overall health across three key categories: Physical, mental and emotional.
For more ideas about celebrating Men’s Health Week 2024, visit the Centre for Male Health.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is on 15 June. The day aims to bring together individuals, communities, and organisations to raise awareness to the growing issue of elder abuse.

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

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Thu 25

1-2-3 Magic® & Emotion Coaching

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

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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Understanding behaviours of concern for children with disability | Australian Institute of Family Studies

This practice guide draws on research evidence and practitioner knowledge to provide an overview of approaches to understanding the behaviours of children with disability and the concept of ‘behaviours of concern’. It includes some practical principles for working with children with disability and their families.

Policy brief: the impact of screen time and social media on the mental health of young Australians | Prevention United

This policy brief explores both the benefits and risks to young people’s mental health associated with smartphone and social media use, and discusses the ways in which to harness the positive aspects of the digital environment while averting or minimising the potential mental health harms associated with the online world among young Australians.

Parent-focused interventions to support the behaviours of children with disability | Australian Institute of Family Studies

This resource summarises the evidence about the effectiveness of parent-focused interventions designed to support children with intellectual disability and autistic children who display behaviours of concern. The review aims to support practitioners who work with children with disability and their families, but may not be specialists in providing disability support, to understand what parent-focused interventions include and the characteristics of effective interventions.

2024-25 Budget Snapshot | Parliamentary Budget Office

This publication provides an interactive and graphical summary of information contained in the federal government’s 2024-25 Budget.

Listen to our voices and our stories: Including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in decisions that impact them | Emerging Minds

To understand the issues that are impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and how to best provide support, it’s important to listen to, and empower the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. This fact sheet and accompanying podcast were co-created with and include the voices of two Aboriginal young people, Kahli Regan and Tannielle McHugh.

Ten lessons for public servants from Robodebt | Susan McKinnon Foundation

The Royal Commission report into the failed Robodebt scheme offered a unique opportunity to reflect on the performance of Australian government institutions. This project, based directly on the evidence presented in the Commission’s hearings and report, focuses on the distinctive contribution of the Australian Public Service (APS), particularly its culture. It selects three general areas of governance – independence, collaboration and accountability – with the aim of distilling a number of key lessons to guide the behaviour of current and future public servants.

Simulation-based training for social workers: evidence summary report | Monash University

This report presents a systematic scoping review of evidence summarising findings from published evaluations of simulation-based training for social workers and results from a survey exploring Australia’s current approach to training social workers using simulation-based training.

Passionate, relentless, grassroots problem-solving: insights from the field of domestic and family violence specialist support | Paul Ramsay Foundation

This paper shares insights from the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s Open Grant Round for Specialist Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Support. Innovation Unit is acting as a Learning Partner to this work, convening a group of 31 organisations who have been awarded grants as part of this program. This is the first of two papers from Innovation Unit sharing insights and learning from engagement with this group.

Online dating app facilitated sexual violence victimisation among people with disability | Australian Institute of Criminology

This study is part of a body of work examining the prevalence and nature of online harms facilitated by mobile dating apps and websites, with a focus on experiences of online sexual harassment, aggression and violence among users with disability. This research found that online sexual harassment and abusive and threatening language were very commonly experienced, followed by online stalking and image-based sexual abuse.

Australia’s social and community services workforce: characterisation, classification and value | Social Policy Research Centre

Over 300,000 people work in Australia’s social and community service industries, mostly women in non-government organisations. This report provides detailed insight into what these workers do in their work, and how their work is characterised, classified, and paid in the context of the regulatory arrangements.

A snapshot of inequality in Australia: research paper | Productivity Commission

This paper provides an update on the state of economic inequality in Australia, reviewing the period of the COVID-19 induced recession and recovery. It also deep dives into economic inequality for three cohorts – women, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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