FRSA eBulletin, No. 9, 2023

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No. 9, 2023 | 4 August 2023

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From FRSA's Executive Director

With the new financial year I have been taking an opportunity to engage in one on one conversations with FRSA’s members, starting with a number of our members in Western Australia. Given the particular circumstances of services in the West, in which all state-funded families and children services are targeted, I am starkly reminded of the critical role of Commonwealth funded services in providing universal support, with a focus on prevention and early intervention across the lifecourse.

We must not lose sight of the significance of universal accessibility when we know that services are increasingly drawn into working with more complex individuals, families and communities – and towards the pointy end of service delivery. Systems and services right across Commonwealth, State/Territory and local government jurisdictions are increasingly stretched and under-resourced. I should be clear this is a trend that is not exclusive to the West but consistent across Australia. We hear this through discussions with our members and it has been a constant message in the Communities of Practice sessions that we have been running for the DSS funded programs under the Families and Children Activity.

Clearly linked to this increase in client complexity is the cost of living pressures on individuals and families, with housing affordability and accessibility featuring strongly in that feedback.

We know that having enough money to live on and a safe, secure and adequate place to call home are intrinsic to individual wellbeing and the capacity to engage fully in society – be that school, parenting and home care, work and community. Whilst acknowledging the ALP was successful this week in getting the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Act 2023 through Parliament – the increase of approximately $52.00 per fortnight in real terms (inclusive of indexation) to a large proportion of those payments – this still falls far short of what is required for people reliant on these payments.

Today, a coalition of more than 80 organisations across Australia – organisations specialising in services including housing, health, domestic violence and law – submitted a joint statement to the Senate Inquiry into the Worsening Rental Crisis in Australia urging government to act on rental reform. Without some kind of urgent action, coupled with longer-term and enduring solutions, the numbers of families in crisis will continue to grow and the pressure on services will continue to increase.

On a different and more celebratory note, today is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, with the theme ‘Little voices, Loud futures’. We join in celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and share our hope for those little voices to occupy a strong and central position in the future.

Kind regards,
Jackie Brady
FRSA Executive Director

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Strategic Leadership Forum 2023 - Register today!

Don’t forget to register for this year’s Strategic Leadership Forum (SLF) on 12-13 September 2023 in Canberra.

We’ll be joined by the Attorney-General, The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP at the SLF breakfast event, which will also see the launch of the Family & Relationship Services Sector Cost Benefit Analysis Report which FRSA commissioned the Centre for International Economics to undertake.

Click the button below to access the registration website. This is an FRSA Members only event.

Stay tuned for more details on the event including the program, speakers, accommodation and more. Make sure you receive the latest information about SLF 2023 by subscribing to the mailing list on the SLF webpage.

If you have any questions, please contact the National Office on (02) 6162 1811 or email our Events and Membership Officer, Narelle at events@frsa.org.au.

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Report reveals brutal reality of housing crisis

The Everybody’s Home campaign’s latest report has revealed that more than four in five renters are in housing stress, with homelessness the leading impact of the housing crisis.

Based on surveys of almost 750 people, the report, ‘Brutal reality: the human cost of Australia’s housing crisis’ found that:

  • Two thirds (67%) of people are in housing stress
  • Four in five (82%) renters are in rental stress
  • Three quarters (75%) of people are scared about their financial security because of the housing crisis
  • Two thirds (66%) of people are worried about their mental health and wellbeing

The report also surveyed housing and welfare organisations across Australia. Nine in ten (89%) reported bigger and more complex workloads, while three in five (61%) said their staff were experiencing burnout or leaving their roles due to the crisis. Read the full report.

All workers now entitled to family and domestic violence leave

As of 1 August small business employees are entitled to ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave.

This brings small businesses in line with medium and large businesses, where the employee entitlement has been in place since 1 February. All employees – full-time, part-time and casual – are entitled to 10 days paid leave per year.

Small businesses were given an additional six months to prepare themselves for the new change and tailored guidance has been developed by the Fair Work Ombudsman to support small business in the transition. Government has also developed a dedicated website for small businesses, which was developed in consultation with small business and family and domestic violence experts. The website includes resources for employees and information and templates for employers.

With all employees now entitled to ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP commented, “No one should have to choose between their work or their safety, and this is why we want tot take strong action to protect anyone experiencing violence from disadvantage or discrimination in the workforce”.

Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission website launched

The Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission has launched their new Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission website along with their new branding that visually communicates their message and purpose – providing a significant opportunity to enhance the way they work in support of the Australian Government’s ambition to end gender based violence as outlined in the National Plan, and to amplify the voices of people with lived and living experience of domestic, family and sexual violence.

In the coming months, the website will be further enhanced and expanded to provide more opportunities for connection, the sharing of key information and ideas, and to give the public a window into the Commission’s strategy and work.

FRSA Webinar: The National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse

On 27 July, FRSA hosted a member-only webinar with Dr Leanne Beagley and Dr Rosa Flaherty from the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse about the the important work of the National Centre to raise awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice.

In the session Dr Beagley provided an overview of the National Centre and Dr Flaherty explained how they are responding to professional development needs. The also shared the findings of a survey the National Centre recently conducted to understand the learning and development needs of a broad range of workers who have responsibility for protecting and supporting children, young people and adults who have experienced child sexual abuse. Click here to view the full webinar.

Parents with disability and their experiences of child protection systems – Royal Commission Report

On 11 July, the Disability Royal Commission published a commissioned research report titled Parents with disability and their experiences of child protection systems, conducted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Western Sydney University.

The report found that parents with disability are over-represented as subjects of child protection allegations, investigations and proceedings.

In the research, interviews were conducted with parents with disability, advocates, caseworkers, service providers, Children’s Court clinicians and lawyers in New South Wales and Victoria to hear from those who have experience with child protection systems. Interview participants outlined examples of risk assessments being conducted in ways that didn’t accommodate for their disability or cultural background.

The report concluded that law, policy, practice and funding reforms are necessary for parents with disability to uphold their human rights and look after their children where practicable.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was established in April 2019 and will deliver its final report to the Australian Government by 29 September 2023. More information on the Royal Commission, including a series of commissioned reports, is available on the Royal Commission website.

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Consultation: A new voluntary parent support service

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is designing a new voluntary service that supports parents who care for young children and is inviting submissions on design options. The service will be for parents who receive a parenting payment, to help them to plan for their future education and employment goals.

The new service will replace the controversial ParentsNext program, which the Parliamentary Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services inquired into late last year. FRSA made a submission to this inquiry with our interest stemming from the early intervention focus of ParentsNext, which aligns with our commitment to early intervention supports and the role they can play in mitigating or preventing social and health problems down the track.

It was clear through this inquiry and earlier investigations that ParentsNext had become so embedded in a punitive, compliance-focused framework with consequent harms inflicted on some program participants, that the program required a radical overhaul. At the same time, when delivered well the strength of the program was its capacity to reach people who have had limited opportunities to think confidently and creatively about their future and their right to participate in all dimensions of society, when the time is right for them and their families.

We encourage FRSA members who deliver ParentsNext to contribute directly to the Department’s consultation and share their experience and insights on what a voluntary, supportive pre-employment program could look like.

One of the biggest challenges for the program will be to ensure it meets the needs of those who would most benefit from it. As a voluntary program, how will providers reach and engage potential participants with limited social supports, limited resources and limited knowledge of how to access support services? How will providers engage people who do not necessarily have the energy (the emotional and mental reserves), or the trust in social services to put themselves forward?

The consultation will run to mid-September 2023. Information is available here.

Legislation to increase income support payments passed

On 2 August the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Act 2023 passed in the Parliament.

On 20 September 2023 the base rates of working-age and student payments including JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment (Partnered), Austudy, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Disability Support Pension (Youth), and Special Benefit will increase by $40 per fortnight. Commonwealth Rent Assistance maximum rates will increase by 15 per cent.

These changes form part of the $14.6 billion cost of living package announced in the 2023-24 Budget.

While increased support is welcome, it is simply not enough to ensure people can cover the basics.

Charities Commission Advisory Board appointed

The Hon Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charites and Treasury, has announced eight appointments to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Board.

The appointments follow an open applications process.

The following appointments have been made:

  • Ms Sarah Davies as the part-time Chair and general member
  • Ms Heather Watson as the part-time Deputy Chair and general member
  • Ms Anna Bacik, Mr David Crosbie, Mr Ian Hamm, Ms Sara Harrup, Ms Rosina Loria and Dr Myles McGregor-Lowndes OAM as part-time general members.
Women and Women’s Safety Ministerial Council - Communique

The Women and Women’s Safety Ministerial Council has issued a communique following the Council’s online meeting on 28 July.

Ministers renewed their commitment to ending violence against women and children in one generation, particularly in light of the women and children who have lost their lives, both in tragedies recent and past.

The Council discussed achieving gender equality, improving women’s health, strengthening data collection on the gender pay gap, opportunities for improved family and domestic violence data sharing and finalising the Action Plans under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032.

Early Years Strategy submissions published

Last month the Department of Social Services published more than 300 submissions that were made to the Early Years Strategy community consultation to help shape its vision for the future of Australia’s children and their families.

FRSA’s submission supported the development of an Early Years Strategy and specifically, a child and family centred, strengths-based Strategy as proposed in the discussion paper. We highlighted the need for the Strategy’s scope to be broadened to include the states and territories and encouraging linkages between federally funded and state funded services in the development of new initiatives.

FRSA looks forward to continuing to contribute to the Early Years Strategy throughout its development and will continue supporting the growth, development and viability of services dedicated to children, families and communities.

Read our full submission.

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A “yes” to First Nations peoples’ call for the Voice - Centrecare Inc article

Centrecare Inc Director, Adjunct Professor Tony Pietropiccolo AM has written an article calling for a yes to First Nations peoples’ call for the Voice.

“Establishing the Voice has a value far beyond the machinations of government. It has the potential to bring us closer together and help right the many wrongs that First Nations people have endured.”

“For too long we have remained apart and imprisoned in a view of “the other” based on misplaced arrogance and fear. Accepting the call from First Nations peoples for rightful, constitutional recognition is an opportunity to break new ground. It can lead us beyond rejection and exclusion to mutual acceptance and respect. These are preconditions to reconciliation. They are also fundamental to the recognition of our common humanity.”

“To deny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the right to be present and involved in affairs that relate to their wellbeing will confirm their historical subjugation. Once again, their call for recognition will be dismissed and their special place in the Australian story ignored. Such denial reinforces our divisions and exacerbates resentment. It has the power to create substantial harm not just to those that have worked hard to have their voices heard but also to future generations left with little hope for change.”

Click here to read the full article

Long-serving Centacare leader Pauline Connelly announces retirement

Centacare Catholic Family Services bids farewell to Deputy Executive Director Pauline Connelly who is retiring after 30 years at the organisation.

Driven to help others, Pauline began her social work career in marriage and family counselling. In the mid-1990s she helped established Centacare in Port Pirie. This led to her leadership role in Adelaide, alongside Centacare’s longest-serving Director, Dale West.

When Dale retired in 2021, Pauline guided Centacare through a period of notable change before choosing to return to her substantive position of Executive Deputy Director late last year.

Pauline said the satisfaction of helping Centacare grow into the organisation it is today, with more than 500 staff and 32 sites in metropolitan and regional South Australia, is tempered only by the loss of services along the way due to funding and policy changes.

“It’s quite amazing to look back and capture glimpses of the beginnings and then the end of programs; having to tell staff they don’t have jobs anymore and clients, who are getting amazing results, that they won’t have their workers anymore,” she said.

“To me, that’s one of the toughest challenges: being reliant on government policy of the day to influence the care you can give, and the restrictions that are placed on that care.”

FRSA wishes Pauline all the best for the future. Read more.

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2023-24 Volunteer Grants

Volunteer Grants support the work of local community organisations by enabling the inclusion of vulnerable people and promoting awareness to increase participation in volunteering.

The 2023-24 Volunteer Grants Opportunity is expected to open for applications in the second half of 2023.

Grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 will be available to assist eligible not-for-profit community organisations support the efforts of their volunteers.

The Grant Opportunity Guidelines are on GrantConnect with other supporting documentation to be published when the opportunity is open for application.

Nominations open for 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards

Nominations are open for the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards. The awards are an opportunity to honour and promote the work of our unsung heroes of human rights as well our more high-profile achievers. This year’s awards also form a key part of Australia’s celebration and commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Help shine a light on the work of human rights champions for their efforts in advancing and defending human rights in Australia.

Nominations can be submitted in five categories:

  • Human Rights Medal
  • Law Award
  • Media & Creative Industries Award
  • Community Award
  • Young People’s Award

Nominations close Monday, 4 September 2023. Click here to find out more or to nominate. If you have any questions or need any support with submitting your nomination contact: hrawards@humanrights.gov.au.

Developing guidelines on how adults can provide Mental Health First Aid to children

Mental Health First Aid International and The University of Melbourne are developing new guidelines on how to provide mental health first aid to children who have experienced trauma.

They are looking for a range of experts, including those with lived experience, to help develop consensus on what are the best and safest strategies for how adults can provide mental health first aid to a child aged 5 to 12 years old. Click here to complete the survey.

Feeding Families in Tough Times - Parent Survey

The Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Childhood Nutrition Research team are currently running an Australia-wide anonymous online survey to understand more about how families manage on a tight budget. The Feeding Families in Tough Times project aims to understand more about how this impacts on parents and children (including child development, nutrition and health) and most importantly, what can be done to improve the situation for families in Australia, both in terms of services and support and in terms of policy changes.

Find out more information on their website and complete the survey here.

Inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers

The submissions into inquiry into the recognition of unpaid carers are set to close soon on Friday, 11 August 2023.

The inquiry aims to reform the Carer Recognition Act 2010 through legislative amendment.

If you have any questions about the inquiry or the process of making a submission, please contact the secretariat at spla.reps@aph.gov.au.

Click here to find out more or make a submission.

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Fri 31

Online workshop: Supporting Separated Families

May 31 @ 9:30 am - 12:30 pm AEST
Jun 11

AIFS Conference 2024

June 11 - June 14

NSW

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner | CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes

Family Worker | CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes

QLD

Local Service Manager | UnitingCare Community

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner | UnitingCare Community

Group Facilitator & Counsellor | UnitingCare Community

Local Service Manager | UnitingCare Community

Family Counsellor | UnitingCare Community

NT

Team Leader – Men’s DFV Programs | CatholicCare NT

Family Dispute Resolution practitioner | Relationships Australia NT

Counsellor – Family and Relationship Services | Relationships Australia NT

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

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Keeping an eye on child development | Raising Children Network

The Raising Children Network collaborated with maternal and child health nurses and other professionals to create a newly-published suite of child development downloadables which cover the period from birth to 2 years. Practitioners can use the resources to help parents and carers feel confident about their child’s development, or seek help early if they have concerns. The resources are available in a range of formats for professionals to share with parents – services working with families can download, print, display, disseminate or share these resources for free.

Changing perspectives: testing an ageism intervention | Australian Human Rights Commission

This Australian Human Rights Commission’s research aimed to contribute to a greater understanding of how negative perceptions of ageing and older adults may be shifted. The research shows that a brief, one-off ageism workshop can be a powerful tool in creating positive changes in attitudes and behaviours towards older people.

Helping your child build respectful relationships | eSafety Commissioner

Parents and carers play an important role in helping young people build self-respect and understand how to respect others. These respectful relationship resources, you can help prepare your child by having open conversations about what a respectful relationship is, how to be respectful, and exploring identity and inclusivity. The respectful relationship resources include:

Restrictive practices: a pathway to elimination | Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

This report provides guidance to the Disability Royal Commission in relation to the Commission’s objective to reduce and eliminate restrictive practices. Restrictive practices are at odds with the human rights of people with disability and represent a significant form of violence and coercion.

Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap: draft report | Productivity Commission

This report sets out the Productivity Commission’s findings and recommendations on the ongoing implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap by highlighting areas of improvement and emphasising where additional effort is required.

Monitoring report no. 2: key data on Tasmania’s out-of-home care system, 2020-2022 | Commissioner for Children and Young People (Tas)

This report describes some of the key characteristics of the Tasmanian out-of-home care system, and provides data about the experiences of children and young people in care for 2020-2022.

Involving children in evaluation | Australian Institute of Family Studies

This resource outlines the reasons to involve children in program evaluation. It includes practical considerations and approaches to collecting data from children.

First Nations digital inclusion plan (2023-26) | National Indigenous Australians Agency

This document provides a strategic framework and suite of actions through which Australian government agencies will work in partnership with First Nations people to improve their digital inclusion through to 2026.

Young people and online privacy: realising young people’s rights in the digital environment | Reset Australia

Young people hold nuanced and sophisticated understandings about what privacy means in a digital context. This report documents findings of mixed methods research undertaken with young people across Australia aged 13-18 between 2022 and 2023. It documents themes that emerged across a wide range of research activities and outputs, and prioritises the words of young people themselves as much as possible.

Promoting mental health in a changing climate: children and young people as a priority population group | Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research

Climate change-related concerns in children and young people are amplified by climate change related misinformation on social media. Therefore, the authors of this paper argue that programs that promote children’s and young people’s mental wellbeing, including appropriate resourcing for schools, and national evidence-based guidelines on climate change misinformation, must be developed.

What is community development? | Child Family Community Australia

This resource sheet provides an introduction to community development for service providers and practitioners. This resource is for people working in the community services sector, so focuses on community development as a process facilitated by a community development worker. However, it should be noted that community development can be led by communities without the input of agencies.

New guidance for reporting on child sexual abuse | National Office for Child Safety

The National Office for Child Safety commissioned the University of Canberra News and Media Research Centre to develop evidence‑based media guides to encourage responsible reporting on child sexual abuse and support victims and survivors engaging with the media.

The key aim of these resources is to promote reporting that raises community awareness of child sexual abuse, reduces stigma, and empowers victims and survivors when they share their personal experiences with the media.

Growing with change: Developing an expert workforce to prevent violence against women | OurWatch

This report looks at why the development of an expert workforce is necessary to prevent violence against women. It seeks to understand the current national prevention workforce, the national policy context and considers how a strong national prevention workforce will be built and sustained into the future.

The success of Australia’s efforts to prevent violence against women depends in part on the size and strength of an expert, national primary prevention workforce and the capacity of this workforce to plan, implement, scale-up, monitor and evaluate primary prevention initiatives.

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