FRSA was established in July 2007, after a decision by the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to move to a single representative structure.
It was identified that the Australian community would benefit from a single, national peak body that would support the interests of families, children and relationships.
Three Industry Representative Bodies (IRB)– Family Services Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and Relationships Australia –developed a discussion paper that detailed a transition process where a new entity would be formed with an Inaugural Board, which has two representatives from each IRB, as well as two representatives nominated by the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
The discussion paper was circulated to the service sector, outlining the rationale that supported the development of the single peak body that would eventually become FRSA.
Once input had been collected from key stakeholders within the service sector, the discussion paper was provided to the inaugural board, which developed a consultation paper that outlined the proposed structure for FRSA. That paper was provided to the sector, feedback was evaluated, and subsequently approved.
Funding for the new body was provided through the Family and Relationship Program (FRSP), which was jointly funded through Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) and administered through a branch of FaHCSIA.
The objective of the FRSP was to improve the wellbeing of Australian families, particularly families with children, who are at risk of separating or who have separated. The FRSP consisted of three sub-programmes that provided funding to underpin this objective. These sub-programmes included Family Law System Projects, Family Law Services and Family Law Pathways Networks. All decision regarding funding allocations across the sub-programmes are the responsibility of the Attorney General.
FRSA’s structure incorporated the use of member groups who work within the families, children and relationship support sector. These groups would be supported by FRSA through the promotion of the services they provide, as well as funding opportunities. By promoting the work of their Members, FRSA would provide an important avenue for Australian communities to be aware of and have access to significant support services.
On the 7 August 2007, the newly formed FRSA, were delighted to welcome 102 Full Members and Associate Members.
In 2008, FRSA held their first Inaugural National Conference, Collective Wisdom: together we are better. The conference included expert speakers and was an opportunity to bring IRB’s together to discuss the family and relationship service sector as a whole. The Inaugural National Conference was a large success, which set the precedent for all following FRSA National Conferences.
The establishment of FRSA also allowed the organisation to have the opportunity to be actively involved in consultation with departmental program administration in the Department of FaHCSIA (Now, Department of Social Services [DSS]) on significant policy issues and initiatives. This continues to be a key focus for FRSA today.
Today, FRSA has a growing network of over 160 members providing essential and effective support to families in every community across Australia.
FRSA member organisations range in size from small local community organisations to large service providers operating across State and Territory jurisdictions. They include both secular and faith based organisations, operating high-quality professional services. FRSA also has a number of Associate Member organisations that support the work of the organisation, including leading national non-profit organisations and research institutes.