FRSA National Conference 2016

Conference presentation materials

The FRSA Conference provided a fantastic opportunity for delegates to hear from an incredible line up of international and national keynote speakers. The concurrent session program was filled with a range of outcomes measurement presentations drawn together specifically for the benefit of the family and relationship services sector.

The following speakers have given permission to share their presentations from the 2016 FRSA National Conference.

Keynote Address 1
Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services

Keynote Address 2 – A learning system for improving family and community outcomes
Dr Moira Inkelas, Centre for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Panel Session 1 What is ‘good enough’ evidence?
Professor Ross Homel AO, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University
Professor John Lynch, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
Elly Robinson, Executive Manager, Practice Evidence and Engagement, Australian Institute of Family Studies

Concsious or unconcious barriers to success
Linda Savage, Valuing Children Initiative

Supported playgroups for children from birth to five years: What is the current evidence for outcomes contributing to school readiness?
Anastasia Pourliakas, Parenting Research Centre, Benevolent Society

SYMPOSIUM
When hate takes hold after parental separation: Reflections from research and practice
Associate Professor Bruce Smyth, Australian National University
Timothy Broady, Relationships Australia NSW
Dr Rebecca Gray, Relationships Australia NSW

Discussant: Lawrie Moloney, La Trobe University

The First 1000 Days Australia: An Indigenous-led initiaitve measuring program impact, family health and wellbeing
Dr Rebecca Ritte, University of Melbourne

First 1000 Days – Early intervention to support vulnerable families and their children
Pauline Dixon, Wanslea

Students talking about relationships
David Cooke, FMC Mediation and Counselling

‘Male Models’: Strengthening relationships through becoming a positive role model
Trudy McNamara, CatholicCare Wollongong
Justine Hodgson, CatholicCare Wollongong
Tanya Bloxsome, Oolong Aboriginal Corporation

A multi-agency response to supporting families with young children experiencing vulnerability: the Volunteer Family Connect home visiting program
Rachel Bell, Maquarie University
Savoy Martenstyn, Benevolent Society

Including the direct experience of children and young people with disability as a measure of success
Winnie Bridie, Children and Young People with Disability

Little Sunbeams – a trauma and attachment focussed supported playgroup for families who have experienced family violence
Pauline Sinn, EACH

Using a monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure the right services are delivered to drought impacted families and communities
Dr Sue Rice, CentacareCQ
Dr Ricki Jeffery, CentacareCQ

The family safety model: A whole of family approach to family violence services – an option for family law services reform
Emily McDonald, Relationships Australia Victoria
Dr Andrew Bickerdike, Relationships Australia Victoria

Parents not partners – Evaluation of a program of challenge, learning and reflection for separated parents
Robyn Parker, Interrelate
Lorraine Thoms, Interrelate

Representing Indigenous people in family law mediation – A Western Australia perspective
Neil Anderson, Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia

All aboard – getting buy-in at every level for effective evaluation
Helen Rimington, drummond street services

Measuring wellbeing: Towards recognition of family services as an early intervention family violence service provider
Leanne Kelly, Windermere

Parents moving beyond breakup to receive help through a vicarious peer-group therapeutic experience
Dr Desmond Perry, Parents beyond Breakup

Sharing an understanding of family and kinship within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families
Benny Hodges, Benny Hodges Consultancy

Measuring outcomes in domestic violence programs at Relationships Australia NSW
Dr Rebecca Gray, Relationships Australia NSW

Family violence is everybody’s business
Julie French, Centacare Geraldton
Linda Millington, Centacare Geraldton

From Research to Practice: Achieving a professional development framework and harnessing the cumulative evidence for effectiveness in child inclusive family dispute resolution at FRC Logan QLD
Norma Williams, Family Relationship Centre

Keynote Address 3 – How do we strengthen prevention and early intervention within Australian family and relationship services?
Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology, Deakin University

Keynote Address 4 – 10 myths in preventing sound evaluation of outcomes
Dr Anna Huber, Families in Mind Psychology

Panel Session 2 – How best to take a prevention and early intervention approach to delivering family and relationship services to improve the wellbeing of children and families
Professor Dennis Mcdermott, Poche Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellbeing, Flinders University
Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology, Deakin University
Professor Rachael Field, Professor of Law, Bond University

Our journey to better outcomes: Developing an outcomes measurement framework
Christine Forbes, Mallee Family Care
Lesley Cordoma, Mallee Family Care

Relationship Review and Renew
Alicia McCoy, Family Life

An update on supporting child and family services ti imrpove evidence-based practice: The Expert Panel Project
Elly Robinson, Australian Institute of Family Studies

Learnings from the past and the present to make families strong in the NT
Mal Galbraith, Families and Schools Together (FAST)
Duwalatji Susan Garrawurra, Families and Schools Together (FAST)
Muthathani Jessica Wunungmurra, Families and Schools Together (FAST)

Translating evidence into action: ReachOut Parents supports young people in their family environment through an online service model
Sophie Potter, ReachOut Australia

Listening to children’s voices: Measuring outcomes in children’s contact services
Lauren Kadwell, CatholicCare Sydney
Natalie Crake, CatholicCare Sydney

From good intentions to great outcomes: creating and implementing an organisational practice framework and outcomes measurement tools
Karen Verrier, Benevolent Society
Brian O’Neill, Benevolent Society

Importance of family engagement: an evaluation of an early intervention youth homelessness service in South Australia
Natalie Greenland, Uniting Communities
Cheryl Hillier, Uniting Communities

Engaging separated parents in online parenting courses
Michael Hawton, Parentshop

Building the evidence base through transforming practitioners into researches
Cathie Valentine, Anglicare Victoria

Briding cultural perspectives
Isabelle Collins, SUPERU, New Zealand
Sarah Clark, SUPERU, New Zealand

Planning and implementing evidence-based programs and practice in family services in rural and regional NSW
Graeme Stuart, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Dr Deborah Hartman, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Dorothee Crawley, CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes

Good practice in measuring the success of couple counselling effectiveness: How can evidence-based assessments lead to better relationships?
Dr Jemima Petch, Relationships Australia Queensland

Good practice approaches to preventing separated-instigated violence by newly separated men
Simon Santosha, Men & Family Counselling and Consultancy

Wellness and being in the age of longevity
Simon Curran, Relationships Australia Victoria

Dangers and pitfalls of not addressing what we knew would happen for infants in their first 1000 days: Implications of research findings for measuring success of interventions for vulnerable people
Dr Nicole Milburn, Berry Street

Cohabiting and married parents who separate: Does this distinction have any relevance for service providers?
Lixia Qu, Australian Institute of Family Studies

What is best practice when working with mandated clients?
Jacqui Leonard, Nowra Family Relationship Centre

Raising awareness in Victoria’s culturally diverse communities: collaborative approach to education and support in the Greek community
Tina Douvos-Stathopoulos, PRONIA

Plenary Address – Insights from the Australian Government Department of Social Services, Families Group
Dr Ros Baxter, Families – Group Manager, Department of Social Services

How will we know success? The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 – future directions and outcomes measurement
Dr Brian Babington, Families Australia

Early Matters: Aligning curriculum and service design, an evaluation
Emily McDonald, Relationships Australia Victoria

Family capacity building: a new family violence program supporting the best interests and wellbeing of children
Pauline Sinn, EACH

Seniors conflict resolution service – preventing elder abuse
Jennifer Dickson, FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria
Samantha Kolasa, FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria

Beyond the rhetoric: Measures of success for implementation of public healthy strategies for a healthy start to the first 1000 days
Associate Professor Daryl Higgins, Australian Institute of Family Studies

‘It gives you sense of empowerment’: the power and importance of coproduction in service delivery practice
Chantelle Higgs, drummond street services
Erik Ly, drummond street services
Idil Ali, drummond street services

‘Be careful with those assumptions’: open conversations and appropriate service delivery in meeting the needs of FDR culturally diverse families
Tudor Rose, Relationships Australia

Relationships Australia elder relationship services trial
Paula Mance, Relationships Australia

Adopting an improvement approach
Associate Professor Moira Inkelas, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Sue West, Murdoch’s Children’s Research Institute

Measuring outcomes and intercultural consultation – when outcomes should not be measured by numbers
Angharad Candlin, CatholicCare Sydney

Domestic and family violence and parenting: Insights from recent Australian research
Briony Horsfall, Australian Institute of Family Studies

iHeal – Recovery orientated service design and delivery
Karen Field, drummond street services

Keynote Address 5 – What is the ‘investment’ in the New Zealand social investment model?
Len Cook, Families Commissioner at SUPERU, New Zealand

Keynote Address 6 – The Government’s rationale and model for rolling out the ‘investment model’ approach in Australia Dr Tim Reddel, Policy Office Group Manager, Department of Social Services

Keynote & Invited Speakers

Monday
Mon • 28/11/2016
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Mabo Room (AIATSIS)
Exhibition Hall
Tuesday
Tue • 29/11/2016
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Wednesday
Wed • 30/11/2016
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Thursday 2016
Thu • 01/12/2016
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Exhibition Hall
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Mabo Room (AIATSIS)
Exhibition Hall
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Morning - Exhibition Hall
Swan Room
Murray Room
Fitzroy Room
Torrens Room
Exhibition Hall
09:00 AM
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practitioners’ Forum

Full day workshop
Cost: $150 (lunch included)
Location: Mabo Room at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The intention of this workshop is to re-engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the FRSA national network of services providers to come together to discuss the Strategic Framework for Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is a FRSA/AIATSIS Members Only event.

09:00 AM
Workshop 2 – Communities for Children Program

Workshop 2 – Communities for Children Program
CfC half day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $120
Includes morning tea and lunch

For the first time, FRSA is taking the opportunity the FRSA Conference provides in an effort to bring together CEO’s, Manager and Practitioners to focus on the Communities for Children program. It is central to the Department’s reform focusing on outcome measurement and prescribed Departmental deliverables and quotas.

At a key point in the Program’s current cycle, a conversation focusing on lessons learnt and the way forward will be the topic of conversation on the day.

This is a Members Only event.

09:00 AM
Workshop 1 – Family Law Services

Workshop 1 – Family Law Services 
Full day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $150
Includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

The Family Law Services (FLS) Workshop is designed to discuss some of the bigger picture issues impacting on the future design and delivery of family law services. The FLS workshop will be broken into a number of segments aimed primarily at providing delegates with an opportunity to explore a range of issues among their peers and colleagues in the family law services sector.

Representatives from the Attorney General’s Department will join with delegates in the morning session to discuss the KPMG report, the Family Law Council Report and the new ‘legally assisted and/or Aboriginal/CALD FDR’ pilot. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and Q & A.

After morning tea, Elizabeth Clancy, Senior Consultant, CFRE and Senior Research Fellow from Deakin University will provide a briefing on their work developing a FDR Measurement tool. FRSA’s Executive Director, Jackie Brady, will lead conversation and a workshop on testing and consolidating some of the issues emerging out of the KPMG Report – the Future Focus of Family Law Services.

Following lunch, Jennifer Hannan AM, WA MacKillop Family Services (and former member of Family Law Council) will guide discussion and workshops focusing on two key issues for the sector emerging out of the Family Law Council report – screening for risk and information sharing.

To conclude, attendees will be invited to reflect on the workshop learnings and suggest ways in which the FRSA network can work collaboratively to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

This is a Members Only event.

10:30 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
10:30 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
10:30 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
11:00 AM
Workshop 1 – Family Law Services

Workshop 1 – Family Law Services 
Full day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $150
Includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

The Family Law Services (FLS) Workshop is designed to discuss some of the bigger picture issues impacting on the future design and delivery of family law services. The FLS workshop will be broken into a number of segments aimed primarily at providing delegates with an opportunity to explore a range of issues among their peers and colleagues in the family law services sector.

Representatives from the Attorney General’s Department will join with delegates in the morning session to discuss the KPMG report, the Family Law Council Report and the new ‘legally assisted and/or Aboriginal/CALD FDR’ pilot. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and Q & A.

After morning tea, Elizabeth Clancy, Senior Consultant, CFRE and Senior Research Fellow from Deakin University will provide a briefing on their work developing a FDR Measurement tool. FRSA’s Executive Director, Jackie Brady, will lead conversation and a workshop on testing and consolidating some of the issues emerging out of the KPMG Report – the Future Focus of Family Law Services.

Following lunch, Jennifer Hannan AM, WA MacKillop Family Services (and former member of Family Law Council) will guide discussion and workshops focusing on two key issues for the sector emerging out of the Family Law Council report – screening for risk and information sharing.

To conclude, attendees will be invited to reflect on the workshop learnings and suggest ways in which the FRSA network can work collaboratively to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

This is a Members Only event.

11:00 AM
Workshop 2 – Communities for Children Program

Workshop 2 – Communities for Children Program
CfC half day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $120
Includes morning tea and lunch

For the first time, FRSA is taking the opportunity the FRSA Conference provides in an effort to bring together CEO’s, Manager and Practitioners to focus on the Communities for Children program. It is central to the Department’s reform focusing on outcome measurement and prescribed Departmental deliverables and quotas.

At a key point in the Program’s current cycle, a conversation focusing on lessons learnt and the way forward will be the topic of conversation on the day.

This is a Members Only event.

11:00 AM
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practitioners’ Forum

Full day workshop
Cost: $150 (lunch included)
Location: Mabo Room at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The intention of this workshop is to re-engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the FRSA national network of services providers to come together to discuss the Strategic Framework for Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is a FRSA/AIATSIS Members Only event.

12:30 PM
Lunch Break
Break
12:30 PM
Lunch Break
Break
12:30 PM
Lunch Break
Break
01:30 PM
Workshop 3 – Transformation of the social services system – Getting it right!

Workshop 3 – Transformation of the social services system – Getting it right!
Half day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $120
Includes lunch and afternoon tea.

‘Transformation of the social services system – getting it right’ coordinated by Drummond Street Services – Centre for Family Research and Evaluation (CFRE) this workshop will focus on the new efforts to transform social services provision to tackle poor outcomes for children.

There are a range of federal government and sector led initiatives to better integrate policy, research (in the form of evidence) and the service sector towards the delivery of evidence based interventions across the social services sector and tracking social return on investment through the measurement of client level outcomes. These initiatives parallel work in other western world countries including New Zealand.

Drawing on the Australian experience and the work of the Expert Panel with the Centre for Family Research and Evaluation (CFRE) and the Australia Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), and the New Zealand experience through the work of Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SUPERU) we are excited to bring to you this workshop to consider achievements and challenges of capacity building initiatives.

The workshop will cover:

  • Specific challenges and opportunities with place-based initiatives such as the Communities for Children and national service streams such as the Family and Relationship Sector.
  • Translating knowledge and the levels of evidence in service provision to prevent and early intervene in multiple health outcomes for children and families. Integrating policy – multiple evidence, and service development and delivery.
  • How do we adapt evidence to ensure cultural security, complexity, increased demand, metro versus remote service delivery contexts, and the changing nature of family life?
  • What will help us to continue the momentum for evidenced based practice and programs – including roles for policy, research and service sector?

Worksop will include presentations from Elly Robinson AIFS, Superu New Zealand Isabelle Collins, Violetta Arago-Kemp and Sarah Clarke, and CFRE Karen Field, Julia McKenzie and Liz Clancy.

This is a Members Only event.

01:30 PM
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practitioners’ Forum

Full day workshop
Cost: $150 (lunch included)
Location: Mabo Room at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The intention of this workshop is to re-engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the FRSA national network of services providers to come together to discuss the Strategic Framework for Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is a FRSA/AIATSIS Members Only event.

01:30 PM
Workshop 1 – Family Law Services

Workshop 1 – Family Law Services 
Full day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $150
Includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

The Family Law Services (FLS) Workshop is designed to discuss some of the bigger picture issues impacting on the future design and delivery of family law services. The FLS workshop will be broken into a number of segments aimed primarily at providing delegates with an opportunity to explore a range of issues among their peers and colleagues in the family law services sector.

Representatives from the Attorney General’s Department will join with delegates in the morning session to discuss the KPMG report, the Family Law Council Report and the new ‘legally assisted and/or Aboriginal/CALD FDR’ pilot. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and Q & A.

After morning tea, Elizabeth Clancy, Senior Consultant, CFRE and Senior Research Fellow from Deakin University will provide a briefing on their work developing a FDR Measurement tool. FRSA’s Executive Director, Jackie Brady, will lead conversation and a workshop on testing and consolidating some of the issues emerging out of the KPMG Report – the Future Focus of Family Law Services.

Following lunch, Jennifer Hannan AM, WA MacKillop Family Services (and former member of Family Law Council) will guide discussion and workshops focusing on two key issues for the sector emerging out of the Family Law Council report – screening for risk and information sharing.

To conclude, attendees will be invited to reflect on the workshop learnings and suggest ways in which the FRSA network can work collaboratively to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

This is a Members Only event.

03:00 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:00 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:00 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:30 PM
Workshop 1 – Family Law Services

Workshop 1 – Family Law Services 
Full day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $150
Includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

The Family Law Services (FLS) Workshop is designed to discuss some of the bigger picture issues impacting on the future design and delivery of family law services. The FLS workshop will be broken into a number of segments aimed primarily at providing delegates with an opportunity to explore a range of issues among their peers and colleagues in the family law services sector.

Representatives from the Attorney General’s Department will join with delegates in the morning session to discuss the KPMG report, the Family Law Council Report and the new ‘legally assisted and/or Aboriginal/CALD FDR’ pilot. There will be ample opportunity for discussion and Q & A.

After morning tea, Elizabeth Clancy, Senior Consultant, CFRE and Senior Research Fellow from Deakin University will provide a briefing on their work developing a FDR Measurement tool. FRSA’s Executive Director, Jackie Brady, will lead conversation and a workshop on testing and consolidating some of the issues emerging out of the KPMG Report – the Future Focus of Family Law Services.

Following lunch, Jennifer Hannan AM, WA MacKillop Family Services (and former member of Family Law Council) will guide discussion and workshops focusing on two key issues for the sector emerging out of the Family Law Council report – screening for risk and information sharing.

To conclude, attendees will be invited to reflect on the workshop learnings and suggest ways in which the FRSA network can work collaboratively to meet the challenges of the years ahead.

This is a Members Only event.

03:30 PM
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practitioners’ Forum

Full day workshop
Cost: $150 (lunch included)
Location: Mabo Room at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The intention of this workshop is to re-engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the FRSA national network of services providers to come together to discuss the Strategic Framework for Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This is a FRSA/AIATSIS Members Only event.

03:30 PM
Workshop 3 – Transformation of the social services system – Getting it right!

Workshop 3 – Transformation of the social services system – Getting it right!
Half day workshop

(FRSA Member Only Event)
Price: $120
Includes lunch and afternoon tea.

‘Transformation of the social services system – getting it right’ coordinated by Drummond Street Services – Centre for Family Research and Evaluation (CFRE) this workshop will focus on the new efforts to transform social services provision to tackle poor outcomes for children.

There are a range of federal government and sector led initiatives to better integrate policy, research (in the form of evidence) and the service sector towards the delivery of evidence based interventions across the social services sector and tracking social return on investment through the measurement of client level outcomes. These initiatives parallel work in other western world countries including New Zealand.

Drawing on the Australian experience and the work of the Expert Panel with the Centre for Family Research and Evaluation (CFRE) and the Australia Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), and the New Zealand experience through the work of Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SUPERU) we are excited to bring to you this workshop to consider achievements and challenges of capacity building initiatives.

The workshop will cover:

  • Specific challenges and opportunities with place-based initiatives such as the Communities for Children and national service streams such as the Family and Relationship Sector.
  • Translating knowledge and the levels of evidence in service provision to prevent and early intervene in multiple health outcomes for children and families. Integrating policy – multiple evidence, and service development and delivery.
  • How do we adapt evidence to ensure cultural security, complexity, increased demand, metro versus remote service delivery contexts, and the changing nature of family life?
  • What will help us to continue the momentum for evidenced based practice and programs – including roles for policy, research and service sector?

Worksop will include presentations from Elly Robinson AIFS, Superu New Zealand Isabelle Collins, Violetta Arago-Kemp and Sarah Clarke, and CFRE Karen Field, Julia McKenzie and Liz Clancy.

This is a Members Only event.

05:00 PM
Welcome Reception

Finishing at 6:30pm

09:00 AM
Opening and Welcome to Country
09:15 AM
Keynote Address 1
10:10 AM
Keynote Address 2

A Learning system for improving family and community outcomes

There is a growing international appreciation of how systems of care influence the reach and impact of child and family services and supports. Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets. The need for greater integration among sectors and services is a common refrain from early childhood through youth. Increasingly, there is interest in understanding the collective impact of multiple strategies rather than evaluating the impact of one specific intervention in isolation.

This grows stronger with the focus on accountability. In a number of countries, the concept of a learning system is taking hold, in which innovation, quality, and value are woven into the fabric of daily practice. A challenge is how operationalize these concepts within our complex community systems so that they accomplish our goals for families. This presentation will describe practical system design with families and children in mind, from perspectives of management and accountability, and discuss new ways of using measurement coupled with scalable, feasible change processes that enable people in practice to align and improve family support to improve outcomes.

11:00 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
11:30 AM
Panel Session 1

What is ‘Good enough’ evidence?

12:45 PM
Lunch Break
Break
01:30 PM
Conscious or unconscious barriers to success
The first 1000 days

In Western Australia, two of the state’s best known NFP organisations, Centrecare (Inc.) and Parkerville Children and Youth Care (Inc.) have provided a wide range of services for children, families and communities for decades. In recent years, service delivery has been underpinned by a commitment to measuring the success of its programs. The allocation of resources and adaptation of frameworks to achieve desired outcomes has yielded some positive results in particular programs, yet both organisations observe that the complexity and level of demand for their services continues to grow unabated.

This has led to establishment of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI) in January 2016, focused on children aged up to 18 years. The VCI is actively considering deeper issues of causality by reconsidering underlying assumptions about how children are valued. It is asking if there are contributing factors embedded in the cultural attitudes and behaviour of the community, both conscious and unconscious, about how we value and regard children, and whether this constitutes a barrier to better outcomes for children.

In this presentation, Linda Savage, the Convenor of the VCI will outline the steps taken to  date to develop the initiative and engage a wide range of stakeholders; the outcome of research commissioned to better understand the attitude of Australians to all children; the challenges inherent in an initiative with a rights and advocacy focus that seeks to address structural issues and societal norms, and the challenges in measuring success of such an ambitious project  that is seeking to influence attitudes and cultural norms.

‘Measuring Success’ reflects both the need to satisfy funder demand to demonstrate that their support is making a difference, as well as the desire by those committed to addressing pressing social problems to refine or alter the services they provide to ensure they make that difference for their clients. The VCI is reflecting on how we value children in the belief that it is pivotal to, and directly impacts upon on our attitudes, behaviours and actions towards children, and influences that success.

01:30 PM
When hate takes hold after parental separation: Reflections from research and practice
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Bruce Smyth (Australian National University)
Timothy Broady (Relationships Australia NSW)
Rebecca Gray (Relationships Australia NSW)
Discussant: Lawrie Moloney (La Trobe University)

Paper 1 title: Might ‘pathological hatred’ be a driver of enduring parenting disputes post-separation? Some preliminary data

Despite widespread use of the term ‘high-conflict’ by researchers, judicial decision makers, practitioners and policymakers, there is little agreement on just what ‘high-conflict’ means. Building on Demby, Augsburger, and others, I argue (a) the term oversimplifies the nature of destructive family dynamics in the small but significant group of separated parents who remain stuck in legal disputes and chronic parental acrimony; (b) hatred by one or each parent towards the other is likely to reflect a key relationship dynamic for some in this group; and (c) parental hatred needs to be recognised, named, and worked with – where appropriate. In this presentation, the core features of parental hatred are summarised and new Australian data offered. This research is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

Paper 2 title:  Entrenched parenting disputes: Identifying and working with high-conflict and ‘parental hatred’

Relationship breakdown is often characterised by significant interpersonal conflict. Research has widely indicated that conflict and acrimony between former partners can have negative repercussions on parenting behaviours and consequent outcomes for their children. Smyth in Australia, and Demby in the USA, have suggested that traditional conceptualisations of conflict and acrimony between former partners are too cognitively based, and do not fully account for the emotional aspect of this conflict, suggesting that the notion of “hate” may be appropriate in some post-separation scenarios. This presentation will discuss emerging findings from an ongoing evaluation of a parenting course for separated parents, which aims to help them understand and respond to the needs of their children. The course focuses on assisting attendees to acknowledge the parenting competencies of their former partners and finding ways of managing their conflict so as to sensitively respond to their children’s needs. Results indicate that many parents going through separation display passionate feelings of hate towards their former partners, and that these are related to experiences of psychological distress and their perceptions of how competent their former partners are as parents. The importance of identifying and addressing feelings of hatred is highlighted by their association with psychological distress and perceptions of the other parent. Over the duration of attending the course, positive changes were evident in relation to distress, hatred of former partners, and perceptions of their parenting competence. Important differences were also noted between female and male client responses. The presentation will discuss these results in light of the small emerging body of work on post-separation parental hatred, along with implications for post-separation clinical policy and practice.

01:30 PM
Supported playgroups for children from birth to five years: What is the current evidence for outcomes contributing to school readiness?
Key transition points in the schooling years

Background: Supported playgroups have been developed as a way to provide low-intensity support to families. Supported playgroups are typically run by a trained facilitator or co- ordinator and are generally delivered in a group setting, with both the parent/carer and child present. In addition to support, they may also provide health and wellbeing services to parents and carers of infants and young children.

Aim: This presentation aims to summarise the current state of knowledge about the success of supported playgroups for improving wellbeing for children from birth to five years. In particular, the presentation focuses on outcomes often considered important for school readiness, such as social and emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, learning and cognition. This presentation is based on a recent evidence brief prepared by the Parenting Research Centre for the Benevolent Society, and presents an overview of recent research.

Method: A targeted search of the playgroup literature was conducted and recommendations for additional papers were sought from expert colleagues. Additional studies dated 2014-15 were sought via Google Scholar. Findings of studies and reviews evaluating the success of supported playgroups were collated and analysed in terms of the quality and strength of the evidence, and then translated into a plain language evidence brief for quick and easy use by policy makers.

Results:  Research in this area is in its infancy and is generally low-quality, however there are very preliminary indications that supported playgroups may positively influence child wellbeing outcomes across various developmental and health domains and assist with school readiness.  In particular, the evidence suggests that supported playgroups may be of benefit when they provide specific interventions or are targeted towards select populations.

Conclusions: Supported playgroups appear to be highly acceptable and enjoyable for those attending, however here is currently limited high-quality evidence to suggest that supported playgroups have clear benefits for improving child wellbeing and preparing young children for school. Further research in the area with a focus on child outcomes and higher quality research designs are needed. Implications for policy, research and practice are discussed.

01:30 PM
The First 1000 Days Australia: An Indigenous-led initiative measuring program impact, family health and wellbeing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

First 1000 Days Australia is being established to effectively support families of Indigenous children during critical periods of heightened risk in the time between conception and two years of age. The First 1000 Days Australia includes a broader, holistic and cultural view of health and wellbeing. Internationally, the 1,000 Days goals are to improve infant and maternal health through nutrition. First 1000 Days Australia however, will address nutrition through a broadened framework that provides place-based holistic care and supporting services to better deal with complex issues in families. Through local and national community governance arrangements, First 1000 Days Australia aims to strengthen families and change the life-course for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by using cultural and protective factors across three generations.  Diverse strategies are being developed including pre-conception support for adolescents, antenatal programs for fathers, family-based business enterprises to eliminate welfare dependency, and building the next generation of Indigenous researchers and a workforce focusing on a child’s first 1000 days.

This presentation will outline the how First 1000 Days Australia will use a systematised approach to generating, collecting, linking and using data to generate evidence that will inform and showcase positive impacts of the model. This approach includes the first Indigenous-led developed and governed Pre-conception Longitudinal Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies with their families.  Starting at the household level, a multi-generational cohort will be created to measure the role of the family environment with growth and outcomes of cognitive development, education, health and wellbeing, and cultural protective factors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Through data linkages and novel indicators of wellbeing, it will then be able to investigate the impacts of the First 1000 Days Australia strategies have had for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The First 1000 Days Australia model was built by adhering to Indigenous methodologies, a recognition of the centrality of culture that reinforces and strengthens families, and uses a holistic view of health and wellbeing.  It was developed under the auspice of Indigenous people’s leadership using a collective impact framework and as such, the model emphasises Indigenous leadership, mutual trust and solidarity to achieve early-life equity. As a result, the First 1000 Days Australia aims for social transformation using an ecological framework to address the social and cultural determinants of health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

02:05 PM
First 1000 days – Early Intervention to support vulnerable families and their children
The first 1000 days

Wanslea has been working with vulnerable families in the community for over 70  years, supporting families to keep their children safe throughout the lifespan. Families access Wanslea’s programs through self-referral and through referral from government and non- government agencies. Families and practitioners voices have helped shape practice over time. Wanslea has developed its practice with vulnerable families by the linking of research evidence to established promising practice, with the help of the Parenting Research Centre in Victoria. The motivation was to ensure that families had access to the best possible outcomes to improve their wellbeing and that of their children and communities. Wanslea has learned that any development of practice for service delivery takes time to imbed and is a process for individual practitioners and for the organisation as a whole.

Wanslea co-produced a Practice Framework with the assistance of the Parenting Research Centre. The framework was developed to be used in each of Wanslea’s Parenting programs and uses practices and skills that have been shown to work with vulnerable families. We are in the final stages of the implementation of the framework into daily practice and have followed an approach developed by the National Implementation Research Network in the United States that provides a structure for managing organisational change.  A number of evidence based tools and systems have been introduced and different ways of working established. An implementation team has guided the process with the assistance of our research partner.

Wanslea has introduced a model of coaching that complements clinical supervision and practitioners are supported to enable families to receive a service in the way it was intended. This has included introducing and reinforcing conceptual and behavioural skills that are known to be effective.  Data collection has also been introduced to guide and inform decision making at the clinical and organizational level. An outcome evaluation is in progress and results will be shared along with feedback from practitioners.

02:05 PM
‘Male Models’. Strengthening Relationships Through Becoming A Positive Role Model
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

On the South Coast of NSW a co-design methodology was used between CatholicCare Wollongong and a local Aboriginal service in the Shoalhaven to develop a unique parenting program for their Aboriginal male clients. Shoalhaven has twice the state average Aboriginal population of residents being 4% compared to 2% across NSW. Corrective Services NSW refers inmates to local alcohol rehabilitation residential programs where an opportunity for men to attend a male group aimed at empowering participants to become positive role models was developed. ‘Male Models’ is now in its third year with approximately 80 men attending.

‘Male Models’ is designed for men of all ages to create more positive male role models as peers, dads, uncles, brothers, grandparents and carers for children in their families and communities. The program focuses on empowering men to take on this important role and emphasises the need to re-connect with their culture and their true identity.

Concepts for the program were sourced from the evidence-based Australian Childhood Foundation literature, child-centered and strength-based perspectives, brain development, attachment theory and narrative therapy approaches.

‘Male Models’ key foundations are empowerment and empathy. This workshop will demonstrate how the ‘Male Models’ program creates behaviour change by encouraging participants to understand their own strong emotions and parenting histories, with a focus on the impact of the cycle of violence on children and families.

‘Male Models’ is a unique program and this interactive workshop will demonstrate how Yarn Up sessions are the foundation for running the program with the male clients. This workshop will demonstrate how role plays connect with clients using powerful visuals and props. The use of emotional connection with children invites men to give consideration to the way in which their messages might be impacting on themselves and consequently children. Cultural consultation and the collaboration process to develop the ‘Male Models’ service delivery approach will also be discussed in how this initiative developed.

Measurement outcomes on the effectiveness of this program for the Aboriginal men and their families will be a significant part of this workshop.

  • Trudy McNamara
    Trudy McNamara, Group Work Facilitator, CatholicCare Wollongong
02:05 PM
Students Talking About Relationships
Key transition points in the schooling years

The FMC ‘STAR Program’ aims for everyone to live in safe and respectful environments that enable children to thrive.  “It takes a village to raise a child” approach, FMC has developed and implemented ‘STAR’ (Students Talking About Relationships).  STAR is an all-inclusive, integrated and fully aligned program embedded in schools.

STAR strives to stop the cycle of intergenerational attitudes and behaviours that cause family violence by delivering a comprehensive approach in schools.  STAR provides curriculum and broader community outcomes as it encompasses the key components of the Federal Kids Matter framework; the VCAA Personal and Social Capability Curriculum new in schools 2016; Protective Factors within the Best Interests Framework, Victorian DHHS Child Protection. Most importantly it meets the needs of local communities in a consistent, accessible way.

The STAR method includes, but is not limited to a school manual, whole class and smaller group programs using neurobiological principles, psycho-educational and therapeutic techniques, with a strengths-based approach, extensive PD for staff, MBS scheme with ATAPS psychologist available for referral where needed and evidence based Parenting and Carers programs at the school.

Through the holistic and embedded approach, students, teachers and parents/carers are provided with tools and strategies, and a consistent language, to enable cultural and long term positive change to occur with individuals, and at a community level, creating safer environments for children.

Participants across sectors will be inspired and challenged by the learnings, reflections and insight gained so far from the ongoing evaluation of the development and implementation of STAR.

02:40 PM
A multi-agency response to supporting families with young children experiencing vulnerability: the Volunteer Family Connect home visiting program
The first 1000 days

High quality volunteer home visiting programs form an important part of the service landscape for families with young children who are in need of additional support. These programs aim to improve maternal health and wellbeing outcomes, and outcomes for children.

The Benevolent Society, Save the Children and Karitane are three of the leading providers of volunteer family support services across six sites in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland Australia. These organisations have come together with researchers from the Macquarie University and the Western Sydney University to develop and test through a randomised control trail a best-practice model of volunteer home visiting: Volunteer Family Connect (VFC). The randomised control trail with Social Return on Investment (SORI) is underway to assess family and volunteer outcomes.

This presentation will look at the results from a pilot study conducted in preparation for the larger trial, and included 10 volunteers, 30 VFC families and 30 comparison group families. Pilot study results indicate high levels of program implementation fidelity, and demonstrate change over time in families relating to their sense of support and competence, and also in volunteers in relation to their sense of meaningful occupation and community connectedness. The presentation will also provide an overview of the VFC best-practice model, including the processes involved in establishing high quality implementation across three different organisations.

This research makes an important contribution to the national and international evidence base, providing a foundation for improved policy and practice to support vulnerable families.

  • Rachel Bell
    Research Assistant, Macquarie University and Save the Children
  • Savoy Martenstyn
    Volunteer Family Connect Program Coordinator (The Benevolent Society, Rosebery)
02:40 PM
Little Sunbeams – a trauma and attachment focused supported playgroup for families who have experienced family violence
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

This paper will present the learnings from Little Sunbeams, a program developed in partnership between the Safe Futures Foundation and EACH. The program supports women and their preschool children who have been exposed to family violence, many of which are in temporary or transitional housing. Little Sunbeams was developed to allow collaboration between our organisations in order to identify child developmental needs, monitor and review the effectiveness of our intervention and proactively plan for the changing needs of the child in their family context. The majority of clients are from Indigenous and CALD communities.

A supported playgroup was created to develop and strengthen the attachment relationship between vulnerable mothers and their children thereby enhancing their development and wellbeing. The program’s philosophy is based upon healing the effects of trauma through nurturing the central relationship between mother and child. Activities are fun, structured and purposeful, with trauma informed practice underpinning the entire group.

A core element of the program is to work together to facilitate appropriate and timely referral pathways for children to access Allied Health, Early Intervention and community based services in order to optimise their readiness for school entry. Providing education and professional development to the Safe Futures Foundation staff by professionals from staff at EACH including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Early Childhood Educators and Child Psychologists is key to establishing appropriate interventions and referral pathways.

Initial evaluations of the program have indicated positive outcomes for children and their families, as one mother has said: [the playgroup was the] ‘Best time my children have had in a long time’.  Referrals from the program have been made to Early Childhood Intervention Services, Paediatrician’s, Family Counselling, Podiatry and Community Health. The Safe Futures Foundation staff report increased understanding of and confidence recommending a referral pathway for children who present with developmental issues.

The indicators are that Little Sunbeams provides an effective service model for families in crisis or transitional housing where the needs of young children can often be overlooked while the practical issues of housing and safety are prioritised.  The paper will discuss the elements of the supported playgroup, the key factors in the success of the program and the way in which challenges have been monitored, evaluated and addressed. Little Sunbeams focuses on prevention and early intervention, increasing the wellbeing of children and families, and enhancing a sense of community and belonging within the program.

  • Pauline Sinn
    Pauline Sinn is a Team Leader within Child, Adult and Family Services at EACH
02:40 PM
Including the direct experience of children and young people with disability as a measure of success
Key transition points in the schooling years

This presentation will explore how the direct experiences of children and young people with disability should inform the measurement of success of family and relationship services. For too long the experiences and voices of children and young people with disability have not been acknowledged or heard.

Significant barriers exist for many children and young people with disability to meaningfully participate in a broad range of opportunities and circumstances typically available within our community to their peers without disability. These barriers are caused by ableist stereotypes and perceptions of disability, which include a deeply entrenched community culture of low expectations.

Experiences of abuse and neglect are shamefully common in the lives of children and young people with disability. While there is a significant gap in Australian data, international research indicates that children and young people with disability are over three times more vulnerable to abuse and neglect than their peers without disability.

Critical learnings from recent investigations into abuse such as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, senate inquiries and state parliamentary inquiries highlight the need for organisations to ensure that the direct experience of children with disability informs the identification and implementation of preventive and protective strategies which will reduce the risk of child sexual abuse.

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) is frequently informed of experiences of exclusion, abuse and neglect. This presentation encourages service providers to reflect on their organisational culture and overt or inadvertent exclusion of children and young people with disability which contributes to the experience of being devalued that is so common for many children and young people with disability.

The focus of the presentation is on children and young people with disability in late primary and early secondary school years.

  • Winnie Bridie
    Policy Officer at Children and Young People with Disability (CYDA)
03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
Break
03:45 PM
Representing Indigenous People in Family Law Mediation – A Western Australian Perspective
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Inc (ALSWA), established in 1973, is a community based legal aid organisation providing legal assistance to the Indigenous peoples of Western Australia. ALSWA seeks to empower and advance the interests of Indigenous peoples through the delivery of culturally competent legal and support services across the State, in the areas of criminal law, civil and human rights law, and family law. Providing family law services to Indigenous people in Western Australia presents some unique challenges at times. The challenges are varied and can include extreme geographical isolation from limited services, social isolation including incarceration and homelessness, language issues, and subtle cultural considerations. The lawyers of the ALSWA Family Law Unit assist clients to deal with these challenges every day in their attempts to navigate the family law and child protection systems.

An overview of ALSWA’s family law services will be provided followed by discussion of the type and extent of lawyer-assisted family law mediation options available to Indigenous clients in WA. In recent years there have been very positive developments in lawyer-assisted family law mediation services including the introduction of the Signs of Safety conference model for families involved with the child protection system, Legal Aid WA’s Family Law Dispute Resolution program, and the Aboriginal Mediation Service funded by the WA State Government.

Specific issues faced by clients and families in accessing and using these services, and benefits flowing from them will be discussed with some case examples being explored. Finally some consideration will be given to how services could be further improved particularly in regional and remote areas.

03:45 PM
The Family Safety Model. A Whole of Family Approach to Family Violence Services – an Option for Family Law Services Reform
Family violence

The family violence sector has traditionally separated men’s services from services for women and children. In recent years, however, concerns have been raised that this approach can lead to a fragmented service system, in which women and children experience a lack of continuity. It has been suggested that a more integrated, shared, coordinated family violence service system, such as that provided through a whole of family approach, may improve the safety of women and children. That is, an approach which considers the needs and goals of all members of the family. Furthermore, current evidence indicates that fathering is a motivator for behaviour change in men, further strengthening the case for a whole of family approach to family violence services.  As part of advancing practice and service development for families whose relationships have been affected by family violence, Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) developed the Family Safety Model. This model is currently being piloted in our men’s behaviour change programs. The key principle of the RAV Family Safety Model is the belief that it is safer to track and coordinate the work for all family members that are affected by family violence – this may be together or separate, but always systemic. The Family Safety Model is structurally and culturally different to traditional family violence service delivery in two ways.

  1. Service development: The service model uses a whole of family integrative case management model to thoroughly address risk issues for men, women and their children affected by family violence. This model adopts an inter-agency approach, resulting in a continuum of services being provided to all family members over an extended period of time, and an increased overall service system responsiveness to meet the family’s needs.
  2. Curriculum development: The model provides for curriculum that offers whole of family group programs and allows individuals, parents and children with their parents to progress through a range of programs.

The model’s theory of knowledge emphasises the gendered nature of family violence, whilst recognising the compounding nature of co- occurring issues, such as mental ill-health and other psychological and structural factors.

Drawing on research and evaluation this presentation will make recommendations regarding practice and service developments for families affected by family violence, and will argue for the utilisation of such a model within the family law service system.

03:45 PM
Parents not Partners – Evaluation of a program of challenge, learning, and reflection for separated parents
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Parents caught up in acrimonious separations already see the hurt their children are experiencing but their own hurt and pain often takes control and prevents them from being the parents they can and want to be. When they are mandated to attend a post-separation parenting program they often feel judged as bad parents in need of re-education. Little wonder that they enter such programs with high levels of resistance and antagonism. The challenge for practitioners is to engage these parents in a way that overcomes their resistance and helps them to embrace new possibilities in their parenting. Parents not Partners (PnP) is a six-session post-separation parenting program designed to be delivered to parents who are, in the main, entrenched in conflict and mandated by Family or Federal Circuit Court orders to attend. PnP is practice-informed, strengths- and evidence-based and attempts to build parents’ capacity to make good decisions rather than provide prescriptive parenting education.

Even when separated, parents need to be have a functional relationship that allows them to communicate about their children’s needs without exacerbating, or further exposing their children to, conflict. PnP is both educative and therapeutic, giving parents the opportunity to reflect on their own experience of the separation journey, challenging them to think and act in new ways, and giving them alternatives to the habitual behaviours that have been undermining their own and their children’s lives.

Designed from the bottom up by practitioners who work with this client group, the program focuses on self-awareness and choice and challenges parents to examine and reflect on their behaviour and decide for themselves what and how to change. The program has a built-in evaluation component to assess participant outcomes, and was piloted in late 2015. The pilot data were discussed at this conference in 2015.

This presentation picks up where that paper left off. The key components and processes of the post-pilot version of the program will be outlined but the main focus will be on the outcomes for clients and their assessment of the program. Having run the revised program for several months across several service sites we now have feedback from multiple groups. The presenters will discuss the results of the analysis of participants’ progress through this time in their separation journey and explore the views of both parents and facilitators about the program obtained through participant feedback and practitioner comments and reflections.

  • Robyn Parker
    Robyn Parker, Senior Manager, Research & Evaluation at Interrelate
03:45 PM
Using a monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure the right servcies are delivered to drought impacted families and communities
Partnering and cohabitation

This presentation explores how using a monitoring and evaluation framework was critical in identifying and addressing barriers to provide meaningful and effective support to rural farming families and communities impacted by drought.  Designing and implementing a purpose built M+E framework allowed the workers of a medium sized non-government organisation to quickly recognise what approaches were working for the families and their communities and which were not.  Evidence gathered and organised through the framework established a credible argument to adapt service delivery approaches to render them more effective. The use of program logics, monitoring maps, monitoring meetings and an analysis of formal client and stakeholder feedback measures, pictorial evidence, informal and anecdotal feedback, and worker observations was pivotal in identifying and understanding what the community saw as its needs.  Within the context of this program the ability to be responsive in a timely matter was needed to overcome the barriers of getting the right services to the right people in the right places.  Achieving staff buy-in, ensuring they understood, and fostering their accountability within the framework, were important challenges to be overcome.

Non-government organisations are increasingly feeling the pressures of having to get onboard with the agenda of investment for effectiveness and the ensuing measurement of outcomes practices. Some small and medium organisations are struggling with what is actually involved and are unsure how to go about developing and implementing evaluation and measurement frameworks. Central to this is that these organisation sometimes can’t ‘see themselves’ in the measurement discussion beyond gathering data for funding reporting purposes.  This presentation seeks to demonstrate the where, why and how of using a simple M+E outcomes framework to measure the effectiveness of a project and how this data can be used to make more effective practice and intervention decisions. In the case of this project, the data clearly showed that there were significant barriers to families and communities accessing services because of the way they were initially designed and offered.  Analysing the data allowed the staff team to change tack to ensure the services were delivered in ways that were appropriate to that community.  This presentation provides an interesting and real-world example of how M+E frameworks can be used to ensure program effectiveness within the non-government sector.

04:20 PM
Measuring wellbeing: Towards recognition of Family Services as an early intervention family violence service provider
Family violence

Improved wellbeing is a significant indicator of improved family functioning. For this reason XXX, a mid-sized community services organisation, collaborated with XXX University to develop a validated quantitative wellbeing tool. The intention of this tool is to measure consumers’ wellbeing pre and post service as well as at three monthly intervals across XXX’s varied service areas. XXX’s Family Services team implemented the tool in early 2015.

Triangulation with our oher evaluation tools such as satisfaction, family functioning, and pre-post groupwork surveys demonstrates a strong alignment between the results of our different evaluative measures.

Family Services were particularly interested in assessing our effect on consumers experiencing family violence as these families make up a significant percentage of our consumer base; a fact that largely goes unrecognised in the sector. Often Family Services begins working with these families prior to their involvement with specialist family violence services; necessitating early intervention family violence work. Using multiple methods to measure improved wellbeing and family functioning for these families has helped us identify areas that are working well, inform service delivery practice, and support that we do make a positive difference for families experiencing family violence.

This presentation aims to provide delegates with interesting and practical information including a description of our varied tools and the research evaluations we conduct. It also aims to highlight the early intervention work that occurs within Family Services and that is largely overlooked in family violence discourse.

  • Leanne Kelly
    Leanne Kelly, Research and Development Coordinator for Integrated Family Services at Windermere
04:20 PM
Sharing an understanding of family and kinship within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

The aim of this 60 minute workshop is to pass on information to mainstream service providers about the most effective and respectful ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Delivering services with any degree of success to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities is not possible if void of culturally respectful engagement.

Benny Hodges will engage participants in a conversation about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in family. Drawing on a lifetime of experience, both personal and professional, Benny will generously pass on his knowledge and experience about the importance of developing and providing culturally competent and culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and people.

Benny speaks from his wealth of knowledge and experience as the Principal Sole Trader of Benny Hodges Consultancy, a registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultancy Business. Benny has highly developed skills in workshop facilitation training, community consultation, policy development, strategic planning and individual mentoring, and is formally accredited as a cross-cultural trainer, communicator and facilitator.

Benny has a strong passion for promoting the social and cultural well-being of Indigenous people, and is well-regarded throughout the ACT region, both at community level and through his professional associations with all tiers of government and sporting fraternities.

Benny has birthright origins of both Aboriginal (Waanji-Garawa & Kaureg) and Torres Strait Islander heritage (Erub Bam Le’- Kul Gal Gal). Now a permanent resident in Ngunawaal Country (the ‘Bush Capital’ – Canberra) for the past 18 years, Benny still remains a proud Far North Queenslander, having been born and bred in Yidinji/Irakandji/Gumoi Country (Cairns, FNQ).

  • Benny Hodges
    Senior Consultant/Facilitator at Benny Hodges Consultancy
04:20 PM
All Aboard – getting buy in at every level for effective evaluation
Partnering and cohabitation

drummond street services has a strong research focused staff culture and has achieved it’s own research unit, (Centre for Research and Evaluation) working with Deakin University. As community agencies get better and better at measuring what they do and research agendas move up the list of priorities, the outcomes look great for the future of evaluation practice in the family support sector. However in reality it can be challenging to get staff on board to collect data, offer pre/post questionnaires and run focus groups. There are a number of common major barriers to promoting and delivering true evidence based practise in family service organisations. Some workers claim “not to be interested in evaluation”, some feel they can’t easily apply the tools to their CALD communities and others are intimidated by the whole idea. This fun workshop explores these barriers to sound evaluation practice and generates some practical creative solutions to ensure the people who make up your agency are committed and skilled up to create measurable outcomes long term.

The session includes challenging small group activities, some non-threatening role plays with facilitator and a chance to leave with a simple action plan to bring people on board.

  • Helen Rimington
    Helen Rimington, Senior Project Officer, Drummond Street Services
04:20 PM
Parents moving beyond breakup receive help through a vicarious peer-group therapeutic experience
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

The Organisational name chance to PARENTS BEYOND BREAKUP for peer support group programs known as “Dads in Distress” and “Mums in Distress” represents an appropriate seizing of the moment for parents who have less than optimal contact with their children. The name change acknowledges that there is shared wisdom, from other parents, on ways to constructively cope with lost dreams, redefine broken relationships, and put the interests of children first.  This paper, focusses on the goals and process of the group support programs. It demonstrates that the focus on respectful listening, connecting with others in similar circumstances and the sharing of experiences and wisdom, can assist parents to re-evaluate past behaviours, deal with issues of loss and grief, and re-focus on putting the needs of their children first. The telling of stories is a vicarious therapeutic experience, which group participants find reassuring and assists them to explore their own circumstances.

The root causes of distress are also examined, with many non-residential parents, having little or no contact with their children while awaiting a mediated settlement or final Orders.  For some, this can take years, which has a huge impact of their relationship with their children’s other parent, and prevents their children from fully enjoying their rights to being parented, as defined by the UN Convention on the rights of the child.

04:55 PM
Measuring outcomes in domestic violence programs at Relationships Australia NSW
Partnering and cohabitation

Although domestic and family violence is receiving increased attention, there is little to guide community based services when developing and evaluating their practice. This issue intensifies when services wish to tailor their existing programs. For example, recent research has questioned which factors predetermine the use of domestic violence between people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ). Indeed, it problematises current thinking about the role of patriarchy and gender in fostering controlling and coercive behaviours, as well as the dynamics of victimization within these relationships. How, then, do services develop their programs for different clients, and what outcomes should be measured?

The aim of this mixed methods study is to establish key factors for domestic violence research, and derive client outcome measures accordingly. In this presentation, we will describe how we collect outcomes data in routine practice and how researchers and practitioners can work together to interpret and integrate these findings. In doing so, we contribute to what is known about establishing and measuring outcomes within domestic and family violence programs, provide recommendations that can guide good practice, and reflect upon key factors for both heterosexual, cis gendered clients, and those who identify as LGBTIQ.

  • Dr Rebecca Gray
    Senior Manager of Research at Relationships Australia NSW
04:55 PM
From Research to Practice: Achieving a professional development framework and harnessing the cumulative evidence for effectiveness in child inclusive family dispute resolution at FRC Logan QLD
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Article 12
“A child who is capable of forming his or her own views has the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child and that they be given due weight in accordance with the child’s age and maturity.  (12).
 Further, have opportunities to be heard in administrative or judicial proceedings affecting the child“.  [1]

Dispute Resolution can be a catalyst for social-cultural change, transformative and restorative and requires more than mediation.  In late 2013, Uniting Care Queensland, Human Research Ethics Committee approved an action-research application “From Research to

Practice: Achieving a professional development framework and harnessing the cumulative evidence for effectiveness in child inclusive family dispute resolution”. The focus of the action-research activity was to inform evaluation of child inclusive practice in family dispute resolution (FDR) in the context of  Family Relationship Centre Logan, QLD.

Data collection for the period of the action research January to December 2015 includes feedback responses from children (5-10 yrs) and young person 10-16 yrs) and adult client participants in joint FDR sessions. The action research period was one of dynamic change: in the beliefs and values of FDR practitioners about child participation; the culture of child inclusive service provision at FRC Logan and improved outcomes for children and young people through participation in family dispute resolution.

A resource developed out of the action research activities: Family Relationship Centre Logan: Framework for Child Informed Family Dispute Resolution Practice (2015) captures our achievements during the action-research and on-going professional development activities during 2015 and 2016 demonstrates how we are honouring the rights of children as expressed in Article 12 of the UN Convention.|

Through including children in family dispute resolution we show children they are valued and important and their experience and views are respected. We honour Article 12 in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our statistical data demonstrates that parents are responding to our seamless child inclusive culture and program by the significantly ever increasing participation of children and young people in FDR. We have evidenced our work to contribute to increasing child inclusion in family law matters where discussion and decision making is about them and affects their present and future life experience.

[1] Article 12, Right to Express Opinions ( V. Norma Williams, Program Manager 2015)

04:55 PM
Family Violence is Everybody’s Business
Family violence

If FV is everyone’s business, how do we make it our business?  Several years ago we were drawn into a situation that shocked us all. A client presented in an extremely high risk FV situation. In Geraldton, we have one police station, one women’s refuge, one Legal Aid Office, one Community Legal Centre and one perpetrator program that is for mandated participants only. Geographically we service areas to the East that are over 2000 kilometres away, to the West over 700 kilometres away and to the South nearly 300 kilometres away, and they have even fewer services.  In responding to this client and many others we realized the need to look more closely at what we could do differently.

Being mindful of the national outcry to ensure that all women and children are safe, we posed the question of, “how do we affect change given we are not a FV specialised service?” Our conclusion was that no one is ever too small to make a difference. Even just one encounter with a victim or a perpetrator can influence the whole situation.

As a result of this we have implemented a framework of working with victims and perpetrators that includes:
– Ongoing training  and support for every staff member from reception to executive management in how to respond to FV;
– A committed approach to non-judgement that is embedded in our policies and procedures;
– Adopting an “open door policy” in recognition of the complexity of FV and the known resistance or inability to access services;
– Understanding the role and impact of trauma that is often evident in FV.

Complimentary to the framework we have developed:
– An innovative tool to assess risk level of FV;
– An internal procedure to ensure an appropriate response;
– An established external referral process that is sensitive and responsive to the individual needs of clients within the often complex context of FV.

Our presentation will highlight the ongoing challenges in regional areas. We will also share a case scenario, our procedural tools and anecdotal feedback. Together this will demonstrate that, even in the absence of specialised services, people can still be supported in their fundamental right to keep themselves and their children safe.

Our belief is that if everyone, from the individual to larger services, makes FV their business then the national strategy will succeed. It’s not just our business, it’s everyone’s business.

09:00 AM
Welcome and Opening Remarks
09:10 AM
Keynote Address 3

How do we strengthen prevention and early intervention within Australian family and relationship services?

This presentation will overview a report that was commissioned by Family and Relationship Services Australia in 2016. The report identified eight health and social problems that have been prioritised for preventive action by Australian governments – due to their high social and economic toll. Rigorous evidence was summarised showing that by implementing effective family-based prevention and early intervention services Australia’s priority health and social problems can be substantially reduced.

Current strengths and challenges were identified within the family and relationship service sector that are relevant to efforts to strengthen prevention and early intervention approaches. This presentation will outline strategic recommendations for strengthening the adoption of effective family-based prevention and early intervention services across Australia.

10:05 AM
Keynote Address 4

10 myths preventing sound evaluation of outcomes.

Anna Huber completed her doctoral research investigating child and family outcomes after the Circle of Security Intensive intervention conducted in a community based program. Her experience in running this program and finding ways to measure change for families in the real world will inform this presentation which challenges us to think differently about the evaluating the impact of our work.

  • Dr Anna Huber
    Psychologist Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Practitioner
11:00 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
11:30 AM
Panel Session 2

How best to take a prevention and early intervention approach to delivering family and relationship services to improve the wellbeing of children and families?

12:45 PM
Lunch Break
Break
01:30 PM
Our Journey to Better Outcomes: Developing an Outcomes Measurement Framework
Key transition points in the schooling years

Mallee Family Care (MFC) is a Facilitating Partner for the Communities for Children (CfC) activity and provider for the Children and Parenting Support (CaPS) activity, both funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS).  These activities require MFC to cover a vast majority of north west Victoria, supporting families with children aged 0-12 to improve their school readiness and transition to school, build parental capacity, and improve sector service availability, awareness and access.

As a result of moving across to DSS’ Data Exchange and Standard Client Outcomes Reporting (SCORE) tool, MFC identified that to measure outcomes for families along with the impact of these activities required a radical change in thinking about data, measurement and outcomes.

MFC has taken an innovative and collaborative approach in engaging both CfC Community Partners and CaPS staff (‘Partners’) to develop good practice in measuring the success of their service delivery towards improving the wellbeing of children, families and communities they work alongside.

This presentation will take you on our journey in challenging the thinking of our Partners from the ‘doing’ to the ‘measuring’.  It will outline the challenges to communicating the contextual complexities when measuring and reporting on child, family and community outcomes. Our project has been successful in challenging pre-conceived ideas and fears about data reporting and has developed a culture of understanding of the importance of measuring outcomes.

It hasn’t come easy, though!  We will outline the actions taken to build rapport and trust with our Partners, ensuring they had a clear understanding of how and more importantly, why we have focused on measuring outcomes, not just outputs.

Engaging Social Ventures Australia, our Partners participated in workshops to better understand the outcomes for their activities and develop their own program logics.  From there, overarching outcomes across our Partner activities were refined and mapped against ARACY’s ‘The Nest’, further evidencing that these activities were addressing the domains of early development and healthy transition to school for our children and their families.   A set of measurement tools were identified and prioritised based on their rigor and appropriateness, along with their ability to be translated into DSS’ Data Exchange SCORE, fulfilling MFC’s reporting requirements of the ‘partnership approach’.

As a result, MFC now has a framework of identifying and measuring outcomes that will assist us to improve service delivery ensuring high quality, meaningful and appropriate services when working alongside our families to improve their wellbeing.

01:30 PM
An update on supporting child and family services to improve evidence-based practice: The Expert Panel Project
Across the whole family life course

The Expert Panel project, funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS), supports Families and Children (FaC) service providers to deliver high quality, evidence-based programs.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is responsible for two key areas of the Expert Panel: the Industry List, which helps connect FaC service providers with research, practice and evaluation experts, and the Communities for Children Facilitating Partners (CfC FPs) evidence-based program requirements. The CfC FP initiative delivers prevention and early intervention services to children aged 0-12 years and their families, to help ensure that children have the best start in life.

To support the CfC FPs evidence-based program requirements, AIFS and DSS co- developed a dual approach which encouraged providers to either adopt and implement programs that met a rigorous set of criteria (the “Guidebook” programs) or undertake assessment of their own programs.

The latter approach was developed in order to acknowledge and showcase good quality programs that were already being delivered by providers. In addition, the Industry List was implemented and made available for CfC FPs to access help with program planning, implementation and evaluation. As a result of these activities, service providers are improving their understanding of evidence-based practice and building this knowledge into existing services.

This presentation will focus on the two Expert Panel activities delivered by AIFS. The challenges and benefits in increasing evidence-based program delivery and measuring outcomes will be outlined. The benefits of using a multifaceted support structure to assist service providers to deliver quality, evidence-based service will be considered, along with good practice examples of program implementation and evaluation. Future directions for the project will be also discussed.

  • Elly Robinson
    Executive Manager, Practice Evidence and Engagement at AIFS
01:30 PM
Learnings form the past and the present to make Families strong in the NT
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

Families and School Together (FAST) is a family strengthening program that has been operating in the Northern Territory for 16 years working on three levels; strengthening relationships between parents and children; between families and other families; and families and the broader community (e.g. school and support services).  A strength of FAST as an evidenced based program is the universal portability across cultures of its foundational principle that ‘all parents love their children and want to help them to grow up and succeed.’    FAST is run by a ‘locally trained collaborative team’ made up of parents, community members and people from local services. In the Northern Territory, FAST NT works closely alongside Yolngu Trainers to equip them to train FAST teams in their own language in their own communities.

In this presentation Yolngu trainers will share stories of success as they use FAST to support their families to be strong and to engage with their children’s schooling. Success as it is defined by community members could be about parents gaining employment, children feeling better about school and families being more comfortable with school. But importantly too, success for Yolngu is not just about these outcomes; rather it is also about the cultural processes and relationships that make families strong. Yolngu trainers will share learnings of converting western research language into cultural metaphors that engage families on a personal and heart level. Ultimately the purpose of this presentation is to bring forward Yolngu conceptions of success in the context of an evidence-based program.

01:30 PM
Relationship Review and Renew
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Prior research on separation/divorce in Australia focused on separating couples’ views on why they separated and their thoughts on the separation later.   Although most people argued the breakdown developed as a result of relationship issues and despite the availability of relationship breakdown services, few sought such help.   Moreover, much regret was expressed about the separation some years later.  Research indicated that there was limited information about couples seeking professional help from family services in the period prior to and just after separation.  A recent program explored this contradiction through its pioneering service for partners to review their relationship if they saw it to be in trouble, and to plan for the future of the relationship and for the family members, whatever they determined this to be.

The Relationship Review and Renew (RRR) program was a federally-funded early intervention pilot program to assist couples who are on the brink of separation, or who have recently separated. The program is different to traditional couples counselling as it is structured and brief, and incorporates a psycho-educative component. The RRR model is based on William Doherty’s Discernment Counselling and was designed to suit the Australian context.  The program was developed with contributions from Family Life’s relationship counsellors, family dispute resolution practitioners and child-inclusive practitioners.

The 100 couples accepted into the program participated in the research and evaluation of the program. The couples were across the range of the relationship spectrum; this included couples with no children, same-sex couples, families with children and empty-nesters. The program aimed to work with couples who are considering separation/divorce but were not completely sure if it was the right path for them.

Family Life’s research and evaluation unit worked with Prof Thea Brown of Monash University to determine the effectiveness of the program. The program concluded in March 2016, and the evaluation study has been completed.

This paper will provide an overview of the RRR program and outline its role in the suite of family law and support services. The results of the program’s evaluation will be shared, firstly in terms of its attraction to the clientele, secondly in terms of its content and its structure, and thirdly in terms of its outcomes for clients.

02:05 PM
Translating evidence into action: ReachOut Parents supports young people in their family environment through an online service model
Key transition points in the schooling years

1 in 4 young Australians currently experience a mental health difficulty, with the majority of mood disorders first emerging before the age of 13. Research shows that friends and family are often the first place that young people turn to for support and that parents can play a vital role in their child’s mental health care.

In 2016, ReachOut Australia launched a national online early intervention and prevention service for parents and carers. ReachOut Parents offers information and support for parents and carers of teenagers aged 12-18 years, providing tools to support the wellbeing of their child and their family (as well as their own) and pathways to more intensive interventions depending on their need.

ReachOut has 18 years of experience in online service delivery directly to young people which underpins the foundation for the design and development of the new service. ReachOut Parents translates extensive research and evidence as well as focus groups, interviews and co- design workshops with over 1000 parents and young people around Australia. The research helped to understand how parents and carers currently seek help for their children, the issues and barriers they face, and how an online service can be engaging and supportive for parents.

ReachOut Parents has three key components:

  1. Information and self-help website
  1. Online peer support community forum and Q&A
  1. Parent and Carer Coaching service, providing time-limited one-on-one support through an online interface (launching in October 2016 in partnership with The Benevolent Society).

Through these service components, ReachOut Parents fills an identified service gap with an integrated online service that aims to:

  • build individual and family resilience
  • build skills, knowledge and capacity of parents and carers to supporting their teenagers experiencing mental health and wellbeing difficulties
  • improve mental health outcomes for parents and caregivers and therefore improve their families’

ReachOut Parents demonstrates a cost effective and scalable style of program delivery while at the same time decreasing pressure on upstream and face-to-face services.

In this presentation, we will share:
– key evidence gathered and how it was translated into a relevant and effect service designed and delivered in partnership with parents and carers
– the next phase in service development using the best evidence, and making the most of all that digital service delivery offers in terms of data, metrics and analytics
– an outline and demonstration of the new service and the program logics and evaluation framework that underpin it.

02:05 PM
Listening to Children’s Voices: Measuring Outcomes in Children’s Contact Services
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Parents and children who use children’s contact services often experience one or more issues such as family violence, high conflict, mental health and substance or alcohol misuse. As such, children present to the contact service with multiple and conflicting feelings such as fear, anxiety, distrust, hope and excitement. Sydney Children’s Contact Service meets these children as it provides supervised visits and handovers for parents who have been mandated by the Family Court System.

Previous limited research has found that children often feel that their experiences of coming to contact centres are not heard, yet the underpinning philosophy of children’s contact services is to maintain children’s best interests in these complex family law cases. Further, it is imperative for children’s contact services to be able to identify children’s feelings of distress during contact, and to then implement practice measures that will increase their safety, facilitate a safe and meaningful relationship between the child/ren and their parent, and meet child protection and family law legislation. Research also highlights conflicting arguments about the practice of therapeutic interventions in these types of services, creating conflicting views on how the best interests of children are to be ascertained.

Sydney Children’s Contact Service has developed innovative, child-focussed approaches to measure children’s wellbeing and experiences at contact services, exploring issues such as: children’s feelings of safety during visits, indicators of whether parents are supporting the children’s relationship with the other parent, and understanding children’s experiences of the positive aspects of visits. These approaches are used to tailor our responses to families on a case-by-case basis and may include decisions to engage families with complementary family support services (integrated service model), liaison with Independent Children’s Lawyers, supporting parent’s reflective capacity of their children’s experiences and needs whilst using the contact service, and use of accountability measures when needed.

This presentation will highlight the challenges and complexities inherent in measuring the wellbeing and safety of children engaged in supervised contact. We will then identify the tools, interventions and strategies which are used by our service to measure children’s experiences during contact, and how this information shapes our practice.

02:05 PM
From Good Intentions, To Great Outcomes: creating and implementing an organisational practice framework and outcomes measurement tools
Across the whole family life course

In response to the increasing expectation that we not only use approaches and interventions which are ‘evidence based’ but also measure the outcomes we are achieving in actuality, with each individual or family client, Benevolent Society designed a bespoke practice framework, referred to as the Resilience Practice Framework (RPF) and implemented it’s use across the organisation’s Child & Family Services.

The RPF is a suite of tools consisting of:

  • Overarching Resilience approach and domains, drawing on the work of Prof. Brigid Daniel
  • Comprehensive Resilience Assessment Tool including standardised measures
  • Evidence Informed Practices, developed in partnership with the Parenting Research Centre
  • Resilience Outcomes Tool, including measurement of dosage and outcomes specifically designed against respective program logic models

This presentation will provide a leadership and governance perspective in rolling out a significant change process across a large organisation, with demonstrated evaluation methods used to monitor the success and sustainability of the implementation. Underpinned and informed by the experiences of people using our services, this is research to practice in action, with an innovative approach to practice and accountability. We will discuss the reality of challenges, resourcing, culture, learnings and future directions.

  • Brian O’Neill
    Director Practice and Service Innovation, Benevolent Society
  • Karen Verrier
    Practice Support Manager at The Benevolent Society and works part-time in private practice
02:40 PM
Importance of family engagement: an evaluation of an early intervention youth homelessness service in South Australia
Key transition points in the schooling years

This paper outlines the process and findings of an evaluation of Uniting Communities’ Therapeutic Youth Services (TYS). In doing so, this paper discusses some of the challenges associated with undertaking the evaluation and presents select findings.

TYS is an early intervention service that works to prevent youth homelessness by providing a therapeutic service (delivered via counselling, case management, case work services, and accommodation known as ‘Rubys’) in the areas of family relationships and sexual abuse. TYS has been operating for nearly 25 years. In 2011, TYS documented its service model and program logic. This was an important first step to clarifying the model for evaluation.

In 2015, the service embarked on an internal evaluation to determine whether it is meeting a number of key outcomes as outlined in the program logic. The evaluation employed mixed methods including, a pre and post survey, semi-structured interviews undertaken with staff, young people (clients), and family members, and review of routinely collected data.

Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS and statistical testing for significance was undertaken. Qualitative data was coded and thematically analysed using NVIVO.

The evaluation posed a number of practical challenges in setting-up and running the project. The ways in which these challenges were tackled are discussed in this paper. The evaluation found that young people who engaged with TYS for at least 3 months were able to maintain attendance at school or other educational facility, and reported significant improvements in their wellbeing and feelings of safety at home. The evaluation found that positive improvements are more readily achieved when the young person and their family members engage with TYS. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the initial results were used within the service for continuous improvement and advocacy.

02:40 PM
Bridging cultural perspectives
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services

There are a growing number of scientists and Iwi (Maori tribal groups) in New Zealand who currently collaborate on conservation, environmental resource management, energy, new scientific technologies and some in the social sciences. There is a need to provide further information and understanding about how to engage in respectful, effective and purposive dialogue that provides meaningful outcomes that contribute toward a healthy and vibrant society that recognises and engages with more than one system of knowledge and knowing the universe.

Superu’s Bridging Cultural Paradigms (BCP) project draws from two models (He Awa Whiria (Braided Rivers) and Negotiated Spaces) for bringing together and sharing information and perspectives across different cultural paradigms such as New Zealand European (Western) and Te Ao Māori knowledge systems.

The BCP approach acknowledges the importance of being able to draw upon other perspectives or worldviews that can strengthen policy decision-making, programme interventions, as well as evidence-based interventions. It proposes a platform for conversations and dialogue that can identify commonalities, tensions and uniqueness across traditional Western and Te ao Maori  perspectives that can foster increased responsiveness and innovation for the social sector.

 

02:40 PM
Building the evidence base through transforming practitioners into researchers
Across the whole family life course

Cathie manages Anglicare Victoria’s Southern Regional Parenting Service – Parentzone. She has twenty five years’ experience in delivery and management across community and universal settings. Either the focus of the work has been on children’s issues as they relate to education or life/family transitions.

Cathie’s drive to ensure the work produced positive outcomes required undertaking program design, evaluation and research to build the evidence of what works, in what circumstance and for whom.

‘Parents Building Solutions’ (PBS) a modular based program had been developed over a ten year period, initially to provide flexibility for practitioners undertaking group work with parents of children from birth to 18 years of age, across all child development stages, family circumstance for those who simply wanted to improve their parenting, as well as targeted programs such as parenting after separation, post family violence, parenting in Australia (for those emigrating or seeking refuge) etc. All programs collect pre, post and follow up feedback to ensure quality, satisfaction and measure the impact of the intervention, whilst also informing continuous improvement.  In today’s global environment, we needed to ask ourselves, ‘is that enough’?

In our role as practitioners our focus on practice falls within legislative and funding requirements. Through effective engagement of increasingly more complex families, practitioners draw on evidence in order to align tested theories and using  a variety of tools, assist families to undertake change in order to meet the families own goals or address issues identified or imposed by others, i.e. mandated clients.

Practitioners reflect on their work and record actions and results in case notes and group files. However, it is no longer enough to measure satisfaction, or respectful interactions. It has become essential to identify outcomes of the intervention that are measureable, that indicate improved well-being.  Irrespective of the type of service provided, such as one to one counselling, family therapy, therapeutic or skills based group work, measures relating to change are increasingly needed to evaluate effectiveness of the intervention, quantity and report on outcomes.

No two children, families or communities are the same therefore practitioners are required to have a variety of interventions, techniques and tools to address the growing complexity of issues presenting. It is therefore necessary to provide both the flexibility for the work to be relevant to the needs of children and families, whilst at the same time delivering a high degree of evidence based activities.

Reviewing PBS feedback against other evidence based programs showed positive results. This led to a decision to formalise our program, and undertake a process of applying for Evidence Based Program status through the Australian Institute of Family Studies.  This presentation will share both our journey from practitioners to researchers, as well as the outcomes for the families drawing on our measures relating to parenting confidence, parent-child relationships, improved child behaviours, emotional resilience and much more.

02:40 PM
Engaging separated parents in online parenting courses
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Differences in parenting approaches by mothers and fathers in the post separation stage of their family’s life can be a source of much confusion for children. By helping parents to work out some ‘same page’ strategies we can reduce conflict and find ways to assist parents to cooperate.

When parents are not united some children learn to play parents off against each other in post-separation situations – especially if they perceive one parent as more lax than another. Many parents who see themselves as the main caregiver can become exasperated with their ex-partner if that person plays the role of the Disneyland parent in a child’s life. As practitioners we know that parents who are warm and firm (authoritative) play an important role in helping their children learn self-control and in assisting children on their journey towards maturity.

When parents come at the task of managing children’s challenging behaviour with different emphases, it is true that children can adjust to different contexts. But, it is more ideal if parents can sing from the same song-sheet so that children experience consistency and reliability when it comes to child behaviour management.

This workshop compares national and international online parenting education programmes for a post-separation population and it identifies the features of various programmes on a comparison chart. Special attention is paid to how different groups of parents (e.g., fathers) can be more attracted to various programmes by varying the format of the programme to meet their specific learning style. Participants will see segments of one online programme and they will do one exercise aimed at helping parents become more organised when it comes to managing their children’s challenging behaviour.

03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
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03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
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03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
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03:15 PM
Afternoon Tea Break
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03:45 PM
Good practice in measuring the success of couple counselling effectiveness: How can evidence-based assessments lead to better relationships?
Partnering and cohabitation

There are a number of good standardised measures of couple counselling outcome yet few of these measures are used in routine counselling, and even when they are used there is little understanding of how they can lead to better relationships. This presentation will present the 3-6 month results of an organisation-wide implementation of standardised measures into routine counselling practise. Importantly, the presentation will outline the practitioner skills that make it more likely that the use of standardised assessment measures lead to better client outcome. Finally, the presentation discusses organisational and clinician challenges, and strategies to overcome these challenges in achieving better relationships through the use of standardised outcome measures.

  • Dr Jemima Petch
    Dr Jemima Petch, Head of Research at Relationships Australia Queensland
03:45 PM
Planning and implementing evidence-based programs and practice in family services in rural and regional NSW
The first 1000 days

There is an increasing emphasis on evidence-based programs and practice in interventions that focus on the first 1000 days of life and other activities in working with families and children. In a recent collaboration between the Family Action Centre and nine other rural and regional family services, we explored ways to enhance the ability of services to implement evidence-based programs and practice. The project aimed to support the nine services to build on and use the best available evidence to inform service delivery practice. Our definition and framework for planning and implementing evidence-based practice was built on a recognition that this evidence base needs to include research, practitioner wisdom and the lived experience of families.

In this paper we will start by discussing what evidence based programs and practice mean in the context of working with families, the difference between evidence-based programs and evidence-based practice, and the importance of program fidelity and adaptation. We will then consider ways in which services currently draw on evidence in their work, some of the challenges of trying to incorporate evidence-based practice and implementing evidence-based programs, and what could help services improve their ability to use evidence-based programs and practice.

Our presentation will focus on some of the practicalities of planning and implementing evidence-based programs and practice as identified by managers and practitioners through interviews and a Community of Practice as part of the project. The presenters will include an academic from a strong families a capable communities research team and a manager from a rural family service to help ensure that our presentation is of interest to a range of audiences.

Through the presentation participants will gain:

  1. Awareness of the importance of incorporating research evidence, practitioner wisdom and insights from the lived experience of families in evidence-based practice
  2. A greater understanding of some of the challenges faced by rural and regional family services in implementing evidence-based programs and practice
  3. Ideas for supporting services to embed evidence-based programs and practice into their day to day work.

The project was funded by the Department of Social Services through the Children and Families Expert Panel.

03:45 PM
Good practice approaches to preventing separated-instigated violence by newly separated men
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Separation and divorce is a highly emotional and conflictual time which can place men, women and children at risk of harm. In recent years there has been a growing body of research on the different typologies of violence, and recognition of the importance of differentiating violence to ensure targeted interventions, services and programs.

Most notably is Michael Johnson’s research that clearly makes the distinction between coercive controlling violence which stems from a systematic abuse of power and control and separated-instigated violence. Separated-instigated violence is reactive, has no prior history and is confined to the period of separation. It is neurobiologically driven and often reflective of the trauma, grief and loss that occurs in the first two years of separation.

This presentation will explore the complexities of male interpersonal relationships and how masculine socialisation, attachment, trauma, mental health and gender differences impact on men who are dealing with separation, divorce and co-parenting. It aims to provide an evidence-based understanding of the importance of engaging and working with men early on in separation to prevent separated-instigated violence from occurring.

Engaging and supporting separated men and fathers during this highly emotive and often highly conflictual time is imperative for the wellbeing of separated men/fathers, their ex- partners, children, families and communities. Family relationship services play a crucial role. In fact, newly separated fathers are the single largest group of men who will seek out these services to help them. However, if they do not receive the help that they feel they need they will quickly disengage from the service and develop their own problem solving strategies which in many cases may lead to increased levels of conflict and harm.

This workshop aims to equip participants with an understanding of the importance of an early intervention and prevention approach when engaging separated men. It will focus on:

–           Examining male interpersonal relationships – insights from masculine psychology/neuroscience to understand why men often react the way they do during separation and divorce.
–           Impact of men’s mental health/masculine depression and how they present to services.
–           Using strength-based approaches when working with separated fathers – what they are and why they are so effective in helping men process their grief and form respectful co-parenting relationships and positive father child relationships.
–           Maximising the effectiveness of referral and support networks for separated fathers.

  • Simon Santosha
    Managing Director of Men & Family Counselling and Consultancy
03:45 PM
Wellness & Being in the Age of Longevity
Ageing

More people living longer is an existential challenge to governments, service providers and families.  It is also a massive unplanned social experiment that raises many philosophical questions about identity, relationships, memory, models of ownership, spirituality and life purpose, mental health, social contribution, intergenerational equity, and cultural norms and attitudes to aging and mortality.  As this experiment proceeds, we can only begin to imagine how these things will play out.   This presentation will begin to map out some of the trends and possibilities and explore how forms of service may need to change and along with that, measures of success.

Empirically, the number of Australians aged 65 and over has more than tripled over fifty years. There has also been a ninefold increase in the number of people aged 85 and over, to 456,600 in 2014. According to population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there will be 9.6 million people aged 65 and over and 1.9 million people aged 85 and over by 2064.  It is inevitable and necessary that governments  and community and health service providers turn their minds to the rising demands for services these increases will require, particularly for people in the ‘Fourth Age’ affected by age-related disability and loss of independence.   However, it is also important to consider the Third Age , defined as the span of time between retirement and the beginning of age-imposed physical, emotional, and cognitive limitations  falling, in western societies (and non-indigenous communities) between the ages of 65 and 80.  How will individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole adapt?  What challenges and impacts can we anticipate?   In reflecting on these issues the presentation considers how holistic measure of national progress and wellbeing, represented by the Australian National Development Index, OECD Global Project ‘Measuring the Progress of Societies’, and the Gallup International Wellbeing Survey, may help us think differently about measuring the success of services provided to that cohort.

  • Simon Curran
    Senior Manager Kew and Business and Service Development, Relationships Australia Victoria
04:20 PM
What is best practice when working with mandated clients?
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

The Family Court and other jurisdictions continue to wrestle with the complexities of family life and the limitations of Judicial processes to effect long-term change.

Community organisations and programs often find themselves named in court orders, as people experiencing relationship breakdown are court-ordered to participate in programs such as Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, Parenting Orders Program & Counselling (to name a few). Whilst the intent of mandating participation is perhaps noble how do organisations then pick up these referrals and effectively work with the mandated client?

This presentation will present the results of an extensive literature review on best practice when working with mandated clients. The literature review will focus on identifying best practice principles for practitioners and organisational structures and protocols that support the work.

Can the courts and community-based organisations work together with the mandated client? What are the implications for privacy and confidentiality and any therapeutic engagement with the client or family? How does a worker effectively engage with the mandated client? What happens when the client stops attending? What happens when the worker is working harder than the client? How do organisations manage incoming mandated clients? In terms of measuring success with this client group where do we begin? What are the indicators? Success for whom? These and other questions will be explored in a presentation that will seek to engage those present by discussing what evidence already exists and, by using an interactive format, enquire about the practice wisdom ‘in the room’.

Participants will be encouraged to reflect on their own practice and organisational context, with the invitation to use the results of the literature review to assess where they currently are, where they would like to be, and what might they need to do to get there.

04:20 PM
Dangers and pitfalls of not addressing what we knew would happen for infants in their first 1000 days: Implications of research findings for measuring success of interventions for vulnerable families
The first 1000 days

The pace of development is the first 1000 days is rapid and not linear. This means that the influence of the infant at a point in time must be understood and taken into account in order to measure success in service delivery to vulnerable infants and their families. In particular, it has long been known that a normal developmental process for all infants, both human and primate, is to go through periods of natural regression in their first 1000 days where they appear to go backwards before making a leap forwards (van de Rijit-Plooij & Plooij, 1987, 1988). The periods are characterised by increased illness, peaks in crying and bodily contact with carers, and, depending on the age of the child, decreased sleep or increased stranger awareness (van de Rijit-Plooij & Plooij, 1992).. Research conducted by Hedwig, van de Rijit-Plooij & Plooij (1993) found that these periods of natural regression are also marked by increased conflict in the mother-child relationship, and because of this it has been hypothesised that the infant can be at increased risk of harm at this time.

Although proposed more than 20 years ago, this hypothesis has not been tested in research until now. Berry Street Take Two has conducted two studies to test the hypothesis that infants are more at risk of harm during periods of natural regression. The first study was conducted in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Centre and Tweddle Child and Family Health Service, to investigate help seeking behaviour of parents with infants through parents’ approaches to tertiary level early parenting centres. The second investigation, conducted by Berry Street Take Two, analysed deaths of infants known to Child Protection with a view to considering any increase in vulnerability during periods of natural regression.

Results from these studies will be presented and placed within the context of a large and long standing body of evidence. The strength of the work lies in bringing together research findings from developmental psychology and general pediatrics with research findings from vulnerable families. The implications for assessment and intervention will be presented and recommendations for improving practice by delivering the right interventions at the right time. A particular focus of the presentation will be applying the evidence to practice with vulnerable families, including those on the cusp of or involved in Child Protection Services. A program model from the Brazelton Institute in Boston for early intervention that is based on the information will be presented as one that that addresses problems before they arise and is relatively straightforward to implement in Australia.

04:20 PM
Raising awareness in Victoria’s culturally diverse communities: Collaborative approach to education and support in the Greek community
Ageing

Australian Greek Welfare Society (AGWS) has been actively working with the Greek community to address the increasing problem of elder abuse. Over a ten year period generalist casework and counselling services have been responding to a growing number of reports of elder abuse. One difficulty identified is the older person’s reluctance to report incidents of elder abuse when it relates to a family member. Community education campaigns and awareness raising forums have targeted older Greek people bringing the issue to the fore and making it a point of discussion within the community.

AGWS has been working collaboratively with the ECCV on the issue of elder abuse. This work has involved the delivery of professional education and community education initiatives to raise awareness of elder abuse. Since 2012, AGWS has delivered 13 community education sessions to 700 Greek elderly across metropolitan Melbourne addressing elder abuse and family violence. Partnerships with external organisations have supported links to local community supports for many older people.

This presentation will showcase the approach AGWS has taken in receiving participant feedback in written and verbal forms, documenting outcomes for clients who approach our services for assistance and evaluating all our activities. Also of emphasis is our community and professional education on the issues of elder abuse and family violence, and the importance of culturally appropriate education resources in awareness raising activities and the use of bilingual workers in education and community engagement activities. It will demonstrate how the delivery of culturally and linguistically responsive casework and counselling services has resulted in an increase in referrals and a change in understanding regarding elder abuse and family violence within the Greek community in Victoria.

04:20 PM
Cohabiting and married parents who separate: Does this distinction have any relevance for service providers?
Partnering and cohabitation

The increasing prevalence of cohabitation represents one of the most significant changes in family life in Australia and elsewhere. Not only has cohabitation become the common pathway to marriage, but it has also become a setting for raising children for a substantial minority of parents. Indeed, over one-third of new babies are now born outside marriage, with most of these babies being born to cohabiting parents. There is evidence, however, that cohabiting and married couples who become parents differ in a range of characteristics and in their risk of separation, with the risk being greater for cohabiting parents. Nevertheless, little is known about the extent to which these two groups of parents differ in terms of pre-separation experiences that are closely linked with their separation, use of family law services for developing parenting arrangements, post-separation relationship dynamics and care-time arrangements. These issues are examined with the use of data the Survey of Recently Separated Parents conducted in 2012 and 2014.

08:00 AM
FRSA Annual General Meeting

All welcome
8:00am – 8:45pm

09:00 AM
Plenary Address

Dr Baxter will offer insights about how emerging data capabilities in the Australian Government can be used to measure outcomes for families and communities and the challenges and opportunities this presents – from getting the right data at the right time; to using data to inform policy development and continuous improvement to program and service delivery.

  • Dr Ros Baxter
    Australian Government Department of Social Services, Families Group
09:30 AM
Early Matters: Aligning Curriculum and Service Design – an Evaluation
Key transition points in the schooling years

Substantial developmental family research (Seigel, 2010; Shonkoff and Phillips; 2000, Perry 2001; McCain and Mustard 2002) now confirms that effective parenting matters. Effective parenting influences a child’s wellbeing and shapes developmental outcomes, including a child’s psychological, social and health outcomes. It has been also established that a sufficiently stimulating environment, with dependable relationships and sensitive and responsive caregiving has a positive impact on cognitive skills, educational achievement and hence occupational outcomes (Carlson and Earls, 2001; Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000).

Early intervention approaches for families that target important risk determinants that cut across multiple health and well-being issues have been shown to be most evidence based. Furthermore, programs that offer broadly based strategies targeting a range of risk and protective factors have been shown to benefit a number of outcomes for families and children (Huffman et al., 2000).

Meta analyses show that programs using multiple interventions work better than those using a single intervention strategy (Marshall and Watt, 1999).

RAV’s prevention programs have adopted a Whole Service or Educational Approach (WHO, 1994) to address a number of social and well-being issues for families and children. Learnings from this approach have shown the benefits of forging strong partnerships with schools/educational/health settings and families. Such partnerships have often resulted in being able to provide targeted support to vulnerable children and families early.

Early Matters, a Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) service, seeks to provide parents of children under 12, (with a particular focus on children under 5), with skills to enhance their capacities in a whole of service way. Our prevention approach, facilitated in universal services, is subsequently enhanced by a home visiting or outreach program for those families at particular risk. Referrals for our Home Visiting or outreach service are derived from our group programs facilitated in primary schools, maternal and child health centres, hospitals, and kindergartens.

RAV has recently completed an evaluation of the first 12 months of our new parent and child group curriculums and of our model of service. Early findings suggest that the Early Matters service has been successful in undertaking primary prevention work in universal services for the purposes of engaging with families experiencing vulnerabilities. This presentation will detail how linking primary prevention curriculum with an early intervention model of service both promotes knowledge, skills and attitudes that support healthy relationships and parenting practices, but also offers an avenue for families to resource themselves early without feeling stigmatized.

  • Emily McDonald
    Senior Manager, Practice Development at Relationships Australia Victoria
09:30 AM
Family Capacity Building – a new family violence program in supporting the best interests and wellbeing of children
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

This paper presents reflections on developing and implementing the Family Capacity Building Program, a program based at EACH.  This family violence program caters to a wide range of vulnerable families, and includes CALD clients.

The impacts on children of family violence are well documented, particularly the effects of witnessing physical violence and threats.  Other forms of abuse and violence between parents, such as emotional withdrawal, ongoing hostility, sarcasm, constant criticism, mocking and demeaning may also contribute to a pervasive feeling of anxiety for

children.  Research also exists that shows that men who have used violence typically adopt a more authoritarian style of parenting.

The main aim of this program is to encourage parents to reduce the impact of parental conflict on their children and thereby allow their children’s right to be heard and feel safe, respected and nurtured.  The program developed out of a service reflection that families where both parents wanted to address conflict, for the benefit of children, were not appropriately served by asking parents to attend family counselling together, something that is not ideal for separated families and which could be unsafe in the context of family violence.

Parents of a child can choose to participate for up to 12 months and usually work separately with a male or female counsellor around shared goals that are in the best interests of the children. The program takes a gender informed approach with particular focus on maintaining the safety and wellbeing of women and children.

The program also has the capacity to assist families to access appropriate community services as it occurs in the context of a busy community health facility with a wide range of social and family supports.

The program was developed with an action – research approach, with evaluative measures that are focused on improvements to family functioning and safety.  Initial reflections have meant that the program has been adjusted to accept referrals that may be considered early intervention – where the situation is not highly escalated and early signs of power and control are present without family violence behaviours.

There are signs at this stage that families have benefited from an innovative service delivery model to meet a gap in services. This paper will discuss the factors that show initial signs of having contributed to this program being successful and how this has been evaluated.

  • Pauline Sinn
    Pauline Sinn is a Team Leader within Child, Adult and Family Services at EACH
09:30 AM
How will we know success? The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020―future directions and outcomes measuremen
The first 1000 days

Dr Babington will focus on the latest developments with regard to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the nation’s first-ever COAG-endorsed plan of action to improve child safety and wellbeing. He will discuss current priorities under the Third Action Plan (2015-18), with its focus on the ‘first thousand days for a child’. He will address the major challenges facing the National Framework and the broader campaign to improve child safety and wellbeing. Finally, he will discuss the challenges facing, and opportunities for, outcomes measurement under the National Framework.

09:30 AM
Seniors Conflict Resolution Service – Preventing Elder Abuse
Ageing

Elder abuse is a silent epidemic within the community that is an increasing social issue in Australia. Internationally, the prevalence reported is between 2-10 % (AIFS Elder Abuse Understanding issues frameworks and responses 2016). International and local data suggests women are most likely to be affected, the perpetrator of the abuse is likely to be a family member. Elder Abuse can take many forms including physical, financial, psychological, social, and sexual and neglect. Studies suggest financial and emotional and psychological abuse of older Australians is the most prominent and that frequently there is more than one type of abuse occurring at the same time.

Seniors Conflict Resolution Service is a model for managing conflict for older Australians and preventing financial and emotional abuse of older people. It is client centred ensuring the older person has choice in their care and future, promoting health, active ageing and ensuring their individual needs are met.

FMC has been providing pro bono services to the community through referrals from Seniors Rights Victoria and the community.

Seniors Conflict Resolution Service provides an opportunity for the older person to talk freely with family members about their wishes and/or care in a supportive environment, allowing them to have a voice in decisions regarding their own care and future. This assists by providing a non-adversarial approach to reducing elder abuse, resolving conflict and promoting better future decision making.

This service addresses a range of issues which cause conflict for older people including:
-Financial decisions and who has control over the older persons finances, changes to the will and/or Power of Attorney
-Disputes between siblings regarding their parents living and care arrangements Older people with children living at home
-Older person’s living situation, where the older person lives: residential care, independent living, move into children’s home
-Older person’s health care and end of life care planning decisions

This presentation will discuss the model utilised in Seniors Conflict Resolution Service, the outcomes from the service and a case study that highlights the trends in clients presenting to the service and outcomes achieved which include:

-Reduction in Elder Abuse
-Improved decision making for older people – Of the 22 clients receiving a service 85% reported an increase decision making
-Reduced conflict and stress for older Australians – 82 % reported a reduction in conflict
-Reported outcomes of feeling happier – 81 % reported feeling happier

10:05 AM
“Be careful with those assumptions”: open conversations and appropriate service delivery in meeting the needs of FDR culturally diverse families
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

The Blacktown Family Relationship Centre (FRC), in Western Sydney, is based in a multicultural area. As such, we see a large number of Indian and Sudanese families. Recent research highlights the complex issues facing professionals who apply traditional family dispute resolution approaches with culturally diverse families. Other research has pointed to the challenges of working with parents whose country of origin is based on a patriarchal system, where the fathers are more likely to make decisions for the family. These families do not always feel heard, supported and satisfied with the traditional FDR process.

For good practice to occur it is imperative that we look at ways to improve the wellbeing of children, families and communities that are going through separation. In meeting the needs of our culturally and linguistically diverse clients (CALD) we introduced an early intervention by a Child Consultant (CC). This model is culturally sensitive and identifies the CALD client’s individual need for additional support and education. Working collaboratively with agencies that provide relevant services e.g. solicitors, male and female change programs; FDV support and counselling – and having appropriate conversations with them provides the additional support and trust for our clients.

In working with these families, the child consultant will have open and transparent conversations.  Specific concerns of the parents will be addressed, with the aim of enabling awareness about the impact of parental conflict, and the potential benefits of conflict resolution for the children, the parents and the extended family. They may educate their clients about the different roles of parents in Australia, and how joint decision making and shared parenting are valued.   The CC can reframe the work as contributing to the function of the social and family networks, and how this in turn impacts on their level of happiness.

In reflecting upon research to date, this presentation will explore how professionals can take a more directive approach by tailoring child consultation to each parent, thereby using a more agile approach that can be adapted to the presenting clients cultural profile and in turn impacting their own, their children’s and communities wellbeing.

This presentation will use case studies to demonstrate how to engage with Indian and Sudanese families in a post-separation context, and contribute to what is known about culturally adaptations of traditional FDR. It will highlight the importance of measuring success and the client’s satisfaction around engagement and appropriate service delivery during post separation.

  • Tudor Rose
    Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, Clinical Supervisor and Child Consultant at Blacktown Family Relationship Centre
10:05 AM
Beyond the Rhetoric: Measures of success for implementation public health strategies for a healthy start to the first 1000 days
The first 1000 days

Families can play a crucial role in protecting children by providing a safe and supportive environment. Building on the growing consensus that communities are best served by a public health approach to child protection, this presentation will focus on demonstrating that it is possible to identify family environments at a population level that could be the subject of public health interventions. The greatest investment should be in primary prevention services, as they reach the largest number of families. If successfully implemented, primary prevention services will shift the “risk profile” positively for the entire community, meaning that fewer children and families will need more intensive secondary or tertiary services. However, the rhetoric of public health is often not matched by actions: child maltreatment research and interventions have traditionally focused on “problematic families” and disadvantaged circumstances. Success should be measured by the engagement of universal service delivery platforms (which most children and their families encounter) in the task of protecting children.

Internationally, best practice in child abuse prevention is grounded in a public health approach – identifying risk factors (such as parental substance misuse, mental health problems, or family violence), and putting in place wide-reaching strategies to reduce the ‘burden of disease’ by altering the risk profile of the entire population (not just sub-groups identified as ‘at risk’). Public health strategies can be enlisted to identify and respond to the needs of children in families by equipping existing universal service platforms to respond better to the needs of all families, as well as to detect and put in place systems to detect and target referrals for more intense services. This involves balancing the need for both universal and targeted services that are “child-aware” in order to enhance family environments for children (i.e., progressive or proportionate universalism).

This combination shifts the risk profile of the entire population of families, as well as targeting those who need a more intense service. I will discuss ways in which universal platforms can measure their success in shifting the risk profile, and how child/welfare services can measure their success in engaging partners in health, maternal/child health, early childhood education and care, and broader education sectors in this work. In this way, policy interventions to address family environments have the capacity to produce tangible outcomes for the greatest number of children – not just those identified as “at risk”.

10:05 AM
‘It gives you sense of empowerment’: the power and importance of coproduction in service delivery practice
Key transition points in the schooling years

“Young People are resources to be developed not problems to be solved … they are the experts on what they need for healthy development”.

Designing engaging initiatives for young people should begin with young people themselves- their experimental knowledge is vital and we can harness this through co-production. The drum’s Youth Peer Leader (YPL) program is vital to drummond street services ability to engage young people from the LGBTQI and Muslim and African Australian communities.

Peer leadership (lived experience) models have been identified as vital to engaging both marginalised community groups, promoting cultural competency within organisations and provide a promising emerging evidence base of effective interventions for positive youth development.

When a YPL becomes part of our team they do so for 12 months, during which time they receive capacity building, are supported to undertake consultation with their peers, which is then utilised to improve the responsiveness and efficacy of our service delivery. Our YPL enable us to assertively engage ‘hard to reach’ populations, builds life skills, individual and community resilience at the critical juncture as young people move from secondary school into higher education, training or employment. Importantly, they are also a beacon of hope to their peers and our wider community, as they come from communities that may otherwise be invisible or worse still demonised.

The co-production elements of our YPL program include consultation with other young people and the community, program and intervention development, practice development and evaluation. Our YPL help us to ensure all aspects of our programs and evaluation are culturally appropriate and affirmative. In 2015/16 our YPL Erik Ly and Idil Ali were instrumental to innovative service delivery including Victoria’s first Gender Diverse Holiday Program and VoiceFest which created opportunities for the strengths of young people from cultural, religious, sexual or gender identities to work together and celebrate young people’s creative modes of expression. These activities have built pathways into the wider drummond street services and lead to the creation of tools for other services to affirmatively engage LGBTQI young people.

This presentation will provide an overview of the YPL coproduction model and provide insights directly from two of our YPL graduates.

10:05 AM
Relationships Australia Elder relationship services trial
Ageing

A number of health and social changes over the last century have resulted in both ageing of the Australian population and increases in the complexity of family structures. While the beneficial effects of improvements in life expectancy are often touted, at Relationships Australia we often see the negative impacts on families of Australia’s ageing demography.

As people age the existing formal health and welfare systems provide a range of services; however, it remains the case that when there are age-related care requirements, older adults are predominantly looked after by their families. Longer life expectancies mean parents are likely to be dependent on extended periods of family care by adult children.  Higher fertility rates in the past have given rise to proportionately more adult children to participate in decision making and higher rates of re-partnering have led to more complex family types. In larger and/or more complex families, there are more likely to be competing points of view and personal agendas, and this can create opportunities for conflict and disagreement.

While many families can successfully navigate through life-course transitions, at certain pointsretirement and estate planning, deterioration of health, requirement for informal or formal care, bereavementrelationship problems are more like to appear or escalate, and where there is a history of poor childhood relationships, and/or challenged problem solving and communication skills, family conflict can be difficult to resolve.

These changes have resulted in a steady and increasing number of clients presenting with age-related family relationships problems to Relationships Australia’s general mediation and counselling services; however, these services are not advertised or promoted as specialised age-related services, or necessarily staffed by practitioners with expertise in elder issues.  This increasing demand provided the impetus for Relationships Australia to develop a new model of service, the Elder Relationship Service.

Given family and relationship counselling and family law services have shown success in reducing conflict, improving family relationships and reducing litigation in the family law arena, evidence from Australia and overseas suggests that these models could also work effectively for an older cohort of Australians, as long as careful attention is paid to ethical issues and concerns (Foxman, Mariani & Mathes, 2009; Molomby, 2012).  For example, in a study by Bagshaw et al. (2012), one-half of respondents to a service provider survey thought that family mediation has assisted in preventing or stopping the financial abuse of an elderly person by a family member.

Relationships Australia’s one- year trial of an elder mediation and counselling service commenced on 1 January 2016 in 4 urban and 2 regional locations across 6 Australian States and Territories. The aim of the service is to prevent or resolve family conflict; help families to have difficult conversations and plan for the future around medical, health and financial arrangements; and facilitate decision-making that promotes the interests rights and safety of families, including families affected by elder abuse.

The presentation outlines the Elder Relationship Service framework and will discuss early findings from the evaluation that is occurring alongside the trial.

  • Paula Mance
    National policy manager for Relationships Australia
10:40 AM
iHeal – Recovery Orientated Service Design and Delivery
Ageing

drummond street services is one of the Department of Social Services funded providers supporting individuals and their families who wish to engage with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). The Royal Commission Support Service (RCSS) assists people with deciding to and accessing the Royal Commission, supporting them with making written submissions, attending private hearings or participating in public hearings.

Invariably for many, these processes raise the question of ongoing support and recovery.  Offering ongoing counselling, case work, advocacy, and avenues for mutual support leads to important discussions about what recovery.

Adult Survivors of CSA can experience wide-ranging, long-term impacts of this abuse, including impacts on primary and mental health, education and employment outcomes, and impacts long term capacity to maintain healthy and supportive relationships with families, partners and children. Hence, a key platform in drummond streets’ RCSS service framework is to ensure a family sensitive model consistent with our family model and transforming the Adult Social Care Model for Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (SCSA). By utilising this framework alongside a recovery orientated service design whereby we engage survivors of CSA we highlight a more cohesive co-production/co-design model to aid in sustainable recovery.

The lack of evidenced based programs showing long-term positive outcomes for adult SCSA is also well known. The funding for, development and learning that has arisen from supporting those who have or those who have chosen not to engage in the Royal Commission has provided numerous clues to what is both needed in term of long term impact, but also highlighted the need to transform the care system itself. Parallels can be seen in the existing mental health treatment systems across the western world towards co-production and Recovery Oriented Service design and delivery. Survivors themselves, have unique and the most important insights into what recovery both means to them and also what supports their recovery. They are also a resource if harnessed via the service system workforce and professionalized, and are a vital and effective part of coproducing a responsive service system through the provision of professionalized peer/mutual support, advocacy and education.

This paper will detail and explore the outcomes and challenges in developing evidence based/informed support recovery orientated services for adult CSA survivor’s and their families.

  • Karen Field
    Karen Field is the CEO of drummond Street Services
10:40 AM
Domestic and family violence and parenting: Insights from recent Australian research
Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

This paper provides insights from a mixed-method project funded by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety that is examining the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting in Australia. Supported by an advisory group, including agencies who provide services to women and children affected by family violence, the project has three elements: a literature review (the State of Knowledge paper), a quantitative element analysing data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ (AIFS) Family Pathways suite of studies, and a qualitative element based on interviews with mothers who have used services in relation to parenting and family violence.

The State of Knowledge paper establishes that family violence is a complex phenomenon and more research is required is to understand the dynamics of mothering and fathering in the context of family violence. The literature demonstrates that the capacity of men and women to be effective parents may be diminished where family violence occurs. Some evidence indicates perpetrator men can use a range of tactics to directly or indirectly undermine mother-child relationships as part of family violence, engage in unhealthy parenting behaviours, and misuse post-separation parenting services.

The quantitative component reveals new understandings about the implications of inter- parental conflict and domestic and family violence for parents and children in Australia. Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children will be discussed in relation to the presence of inter-parental conflict and associations with maternal psychological distress, quality of parenting, and child outcomes. Comparisons between intact and separated families for wellbeing outcomes of parents and children will also show the impact of inter-parental conflict across family structures. Further findings from our analyses of the AIFS Family Pathways studies provide a cross-sectional picture of comparisons between mothers, fathers, care time arrangements, child wellbeing, and reports of violence and abuse.

Themes identified from qualitative interviews with mothers about their experiences of parenting and relationships with their children in the context of family violence augment the insights from the quantitative findings with data based on rich personal perspectives. In particular, the women’s experiences with family law, legal, police, child protection and domestic violence services show how responses from these services can have positive, negative or mixed implications for recovery or fragmentation in mother-child relationships after domestic violence. The interview data also provide detailed insight into the challenges women face in parenting in the context of family violence.

Co-authors: Rae Kaspiew, Lixia Qu, Cathy Humphreys, Fiona Buchanan, Jan Nicholson, Leesa Hooker

  • Dr Briony Horsfall
    Dr Briony Horsfall, Senior Research Officer, Australian Institute of Family Studies
10:40 AM
Measuring Outcomes and Intercultural Consultation. When outcomes should not be measured by numbers
Key transition points in the schooling years

One of the key transition points in the lives of many new Australian families is making the decision to leave their country of origin and migrate to Australia.  This may be done voluntarily or because families have been compelled to leave their countries of origin due to safety concerns. Moving a family to a new country presents significant challenges and stress. CatholicCare Sydney provides services in some of the most culturally diverse areas in our nation.  The Parent Education team work daily with families adjusting to life in Australia and also with established families who have seen the demographics of their local suburbs change over time.

In response to this, the Parent Education team, along with St Vincent de Paul’s SPARKS program and one of the local Schools as Community Centres have produced a new parenting program; Parenting Side by Side.  Rather than exploring the “how to parent”, this program helps participants to uncover and discover how to be a parent to a child in Australia whilst holding onto the valuable contexts of the participants’ countries of origin.

In addressing the challenge of measuring outcomes, the team was aware that “success” would look very different.  With this in mind, three pilots were planned with different goals.  The initial pilot was about collecting feedback and evaluations from participants and

facilitators.  These were taken into account and changes were made for the second pilot.  The goal of the second pilot was to ensure the program was culturally appropriate and an Intercultural Consultant from Macquarie University was employed to evaluate participants’ responses on cultural issues and reflect on the writers’ own cultural prejudice. The third pilot was to ensure the program flowed and all cultural recommendations had been taken into account.

This presentation will discuss the rich complexities of producing a parenting program for families with a variety of cultural contexts. It will show how we work with parents from multiple countries of origin, languages, cultural traditions, and in some cases, multiple interpreters.  It will highlight the surprises, prejudices, challenges and delight that we have working in such a complex context, what “success” looks like and how we can measure it.

  • Angharad Candlin
    Angharad Candlin is the Coordinator of Parent Education, CatholicCare Sydney
10:40 AM
Adopting an improvement approach
The first 1000 days

Following Moira’s keynote address on learning systems for improving family and community outcomes (day one), this presentation drills down to explain what this looks like in practice. Improvement approaches generally develop, test and implement changes to create improvements, typically using rapid action and reflection cycles such as Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles. Measurement plays an important role in improvement approaches by generating feedback or learning loops to ensure that changes are actually improvements.  Illustrations of how this occurs at the level of practice will include an early years services example from Victoria where this approach is in early stages.

  • Associate Professor Moira Inkelas
    University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Centre for Healthier Children, Families and Communities
  • Sue West
    Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
11:10 AM
Morning Tea Break
Break
11:40 AM
Keynote Address 5

What is the ‘investment’ in New Zealand social investment model

The presentation will discuss the NZ social investment model, its dependence on evaluation and relevance to policy about families and whanau. The presentation will focus on the various drivers of change based on systems thinking, and what we know so far about political perspectives such as social bonds, actuarial modelling of individual risk and fiscal costs.

Family violence, child protection and mental health are not the only areas where turning around current trends requires an operational model that empowers all partners effectively, and recognizes the opportunity cost of inaction or delivery failure.  The social investment model underpins plans to radically reform child protection services.

However complex or enduring that a case may be, it seems that the there is a huge gap between the information held somewhere and that which is available at key points in their care, which should influence timely actions that inform and develop practice in the field.

Establishing wider community accountability for the long term welfare of all families and children also needs to be reinforced by engagement and reporting strategies.

The social investment model is the New Zealand government’s response to a need to change its existing institutional models which have tended to focus on nationwide contracting with few providers, and have been found seriously wanting with regard to the community relevance of services, responsiveness to citizen experiences, continuous improvement and innovation. How we assess its worthwhileness is evolving.

 

  • Len Cook
    Families Commissioner at Superu, New Zealand
12:20 PM
Keynote Address 6

The Government’s own model and rationale for rolling out the ‘investment model’ approach here in Australia

  • Dr Tim Reddel
    Policy Officer Group Manager, Department of Social Services
01:00 PM
Closing Remarks

Followed by a Morning Tea Break in the Exhibition Hall

01:30 PM
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To download a PDF version of the FRSA National Conference Program, please click here.

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Special Thanks

FRSA is grateful to our Canberra based members; Marymead CEO, Camilla Rowland; and, Relationships Australia Canberra and Region CEO, Mary Pekin for agreeing to assist as members of the FRSA Conference Reference Committee (CRC).

ANU Academic and FRSA Honorary Member, Associate Professor Bruce Smyth and Elly Robinson from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) will also join the CRC, along with FRSA Board Members, Fiona Harley, Deborah Hartman, Michael Austin, Marie Morrison and Sue Christophers. The Attorney General’s Department has appointed Bridget Quayle as their representative on the CRC and the Department of Social Services representative for the CRC is Kyra Hutchison.

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FRSA is pleased to announce that the upcoming FRSA National Conference 29 November – 1 December 2016 is now an ACWA endorsed CPD event.

Members can claim CPD points for their participation.

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