Together we can at the FRSA National Conference 2022

After two years, FRSA was thrilled to finally bring the sector together for our National Conference. More than 500 delegates gathered face-to-face in Adelaide from 16-19 May, to share research, practice learnings and insights.

The FRSA National Conference is heralded as a highlight event for the Family and Relationship Services network and is one of the largest annual gatherings of practitioners, academics and policy makers working to support children, families and communities. The 2022 Conference did not disappoint.

Since 2020, the sector’s ability to adapt and respond was tested like never before.  Alongside the ‘usual’ challenges of life, the sector found itself actively responding to bushfires, floods and the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and the resulting period of ongoing social/physical distancing. This year’s Conference provided an opportunity to take stock of all that had been achieved in that time and to reflect and learn.

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

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Workshop – Trauma Informed Care and Practice – an Indigenous approach to developing worker skills presented by We Al-li
  • Communities for Children Facilitating Partner (CfC FP) Workshop
  • Family Law Workshop
  • Making the most of your data to better understand your program facilitated by the Evidence and Evaluation Support team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

On Tuesday 17 May, day one of the Conference commenced with a strong plenary session that included pre-recorded presentations from the former Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, and former Shadow Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence, Senator Jenny McAllister.

This was followed by keynote addresses from Anne Hollonds, National Children’s Commissioner and April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children & Young People, South Australia. Both Anne and April spoke passionately about the rights of children to live safe, meaningful and engaged lives.

It would be an understatement to say it has been a tough few years, and FRSA was keen to ensure that delegates spent a bit of time thinking about self-care. We were joined by joy expert, Amanda Gore as a keynote speaker who brought smiles and laughter to delegates!

Day two of the Conference opened with another great plenary line-up. The Hon Deputy Justice Robert McClelland, Chair of the Family Law Council spoke to the topic Litigation as the last resort: Resolving conflict arising from family breakdown. This was followed by a keynote address by Patty Kinnersly, Chief Executive Officer, Our Watch who talked about preventing violence against women. Patty’s address, which reflected on the systemic changes needed to prevent family violence was complemented by an address from Dr Ann O’Neill – an inspiring speaker, an award-winning humanitarian, victimologist, educator, activist, volunteer, researcher and a survivor of family violence.

The Conference closed with a thought-provoking and passionate plenary session, which looked at ageing and relationships with a focus on the issue of elder abuse and neglect. Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, spoke to the topic, Detecting, dissecting and dealing with elder abuse. This was followed by Dr Rae Kaspiew, Australian Institute of Family Studies, who led the team that completed the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study in 2021. Rae talked the audience through key insights from the study on help seeking for elder abuse. Next on the plenary program was a panel discussion with representatives of the FRSA membership, Anna Gillbard, UnitingCare, Queensland, Jenni Dickson, Better Place Australia, Victoria, Mary Sophou, PRONIA, Victoria and Susan Cochrane, Relationships Australia. They each responded to the question: What role do you see for the family and relationship services sector over the next 5 years in responding to the issue of elder abuse and neglect and supporting healthy, happy relationships for older Australians?

The session concluded with all six speakers in a rousing discussion on what needs to be done to respond to elder abuse and support respectful relationships for older Australians.

One of the networking highlights was the FRSA Conference Gala Dinner in the elegant Auditorium at the Adelaide Town Hall, which included a fun performance from the Tal-Kin-Jeri dance group and delegates were able to dance the night away.

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

FRSA gratefully acknowledges all Conference presenters for making the time to share their work and insights with others. We also thank our partners, sponsors and exhibitors for their generous support of the Conference and the Conference Reference Committee and FRSA Board for helping make this Conference happen.

Watch this space for details for next year’s FRSA National Conference.