Edition 13 - 14 April 2008

Welcome to the thirteenth edition of the Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Sector e-News 2008.

We have some interesting topics for you this month, including:

  • Accreditation requirements for family dispute resolution practitioners
    New accreditation rules for family dispute resolution practitioners are being prepared by the Attorney-General's Department. They will be based on new standards of competency that have been developed for the family relationships sector.
  • More on the Family Law Reform evaluation
    The evaluation includes surveys of families, judicial officers and lawyers, and family relationship service providers and their clients.

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach 450 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders to share service delivery news or to raise any issues you think the sector should be aware of.

To contribute to the next edition's news or to provide feedback about articles in this edition, please email frspe-news@dss.gov.au


Robyn Fleming
Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Hot topics

New FRSP services for children to be advertised in April

A Request for Applications for Funding will be advertised on 14 April 2008 for community organisations to deliver services to children under the Supporting Children after Separation Program. Services are expected to open by the end of November 2008 in the following 18 locations:

  • New South Wales: Sydney, Newcastle, Gosford-Wyong, Wollongong
  • Victoria: Melbourne, Geelong
  • Queensland: Brisbane Region, Bundaberg, Caboolture, Cairns, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Toowoomba
  • Western Australia: Perth
  • South Australia: Adelaide
  • Tasmania: Greater Hobart
  • Australian Capital Territory: Canberra
  • Northern Territory: Darwin

For further information on the Supporting Children after Separation Program visit: http://www.ag.gov.au/families/children

Commonwealth Ombudsman e-bulletin

The first issue of the Commonwealth Ombudsman e-bulletin was distributed in February and is available online at www.ombudsman.gov.au. The e-bulletin aims to relay to a wider audience a sample of recent complaints and the lessons that can be drawn from them. The Ombudsman plans to produce three e-bulletins each year, describing a handful of recent case studies.

The central message in each case study is that a problem or complaint in a single case can point to a larger issue that may need to be addressed by an agency or organisation.

The case studies in the February issue looked at matters such as employees falling through the cracks of a government scheme; providing adequate reasons for a competitive grant scheme; a need for transitional arrangements; dealing with conflict of interest in tendering; learning from mistakes; managing a breach of a client's privacy; proper complaint handling; and Freedom of Information (FOI) and electronic records.

The next Commonwealth Ombudsman e-bulletin will be distributed in early June. To subscribe to the e-bulletin send a blank email to

Sector News

Accreditation requirements for family dispute resolution practitioners

New accreditation rules for family dispute resolution practitioners are being prepared by the Attorney-General's Department. They will be based on new standards of competency that have been developed for the family relationships sector. It is expected the rules will be available by mid 2008 and will take effect from 1 July 2009.

The standards of competency were developed by the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council and include new qualifications within the Vocational Education and Training System. These qualifications, including a Vocational Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution, were endorsed in September 2007.

It is expected that the new accreditation rules will recognise the skills and experience of existing practitioners. However, it is likely that existing practitioners will need to be assessed to ensure they have demonstrated competency relating to three specific units of the six compulsory units making up the Graduate Diploma qualification. The three units are: working with vulnerable parties in dispute resolution, responding to family and domestic violence and operating in the family law environment.

Careful consideration is being given about how to make any new requirements reasonable and achievable within the timeframe. The sector will be kept up to date about developments.

For more information about the new qualifications and the core units of competency visit the Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council website at www.cshisc.com.au

More on the Family Law Reform evaluation

In last month's FRSP Sector e-News, we alerted you to a survey of FRSP service staff being undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies as part of their evaluation of the family law reforms. This month we provide a brief overview of the evaluation and how service providers and their clients may be involved.

The evaluation includes surveys of families, judicial officers and lawyers, and family relationship service providers and their clients.

The Service Provision Project focuses on the family relationship services aspect of the reforms, and includes an examination of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the new and expanded services, as perceived by staff at the services and clients.

To date, the first wave of a qualitative study involving interviews with service managers and staff has been completed, with a second wave planned for late 2008/early 2009. The first wave of the web-based survey of FRSP staff is also currently underway.

Later this year a survey of service clients is planned. This survey is currently being developed and we will soon be seeking your feedback about how best to undertake this research in the context of different service.

In the meantime, if you'd like to find out more about the evaluation you are welcome to call Kelly Hand (Manager, Service Provision Project) on 1800 352 275 or email familylawevaluation@aifs.gov.au

The Raising Children Network recognised with leading industry awards

The Raising Children Network (RCN), Australia's online information resource for parents and caregivers, was recently honoured at the 14th annual Australian Interactive Media Industry Association Awards (AIMIA) and the 2007 NetGuide Australian Web Awards.

raisingchildren.net.au, which focuses on parenting children in the early years (birth - eight), won the Best Non-profit or Government Category at the AIMIAs. The Raising Children DVD, a companion to the RCN website, won the Best Learning & Education Category.

The recently announced 2007 NetGuide Australian Web Awards recognised the RCN website as Site of the Year, as well as the Best Parenting Website. According to NetGuide, RCN 'takes a huge topic - parenting - and presents masses of useful and reliable information in a well-designed site that's a delight to visit'.

raisingchildren.net.au is a Government-supported, national parenting website providing research-based and quality-assured parenting information on over 800 child health and development related topics.

The Raising Children DVD features five hours of information in user-friendly segments, and is distributed to every Australian family upon the birth of their child as part of the Australian Government's New Parent Pack.

For more information, please email info@raisingchildren.net.au

Conference and Events

National Families Week 2008

National Families Week 2008 will be held between 11-17 May. The theme for the week is "Work and Family - getting the balance right", which reflects the importance of encouraging Australians, particularly working parents, to find ways to more effectively balance work and family life.

All Australians, including community organisations, schools, councils, companies and individuals are invited to participate in National Families Week this year.

Further information is available at the Families Australia website.

The Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expos

Community groups and customers wanting a one-stop-shop of Child Support Agency information can get it all at the forthcoming Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expos.

The CSA is attending all five Expos around the country to raise awareness of the Child Support Scheme Reforms and to promote the Agency's range of booklets and services available to support separated families. The Expos will also provide the general public with a valuable opportunity to meet CSA staff and find out more about the role of the Agency.

The Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expos provide families with parenting information and product advice and are being held in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. Come and see us at the following venues:

Sydney Showground Dome, Sydney Olympic Park 16-18 May
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Bank 27-29 June
Perth, Claremont Showgrounds, Claremont 15-17 August
Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Southbank 17-19 October

Seminars on Contemporary Issues in Family Research

The Australian Institute of Family Studies offers a series of free seminars, presenting research on national and international issues related to family. The seminars go from one to one and a half hours and are designed to provide a forum for discussion and debate.

Abstracts and full text of past and current seminars and information relating to them are available at the Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

Seminars are held at 11.30 am on the third Thursday of each month at:

Level 20, 485 La Trobe Street, Melbourne
(between William and King Streets, and opposite the Flagstaff Gardens)

People wishing to attend a particular seminar should contact the Australian Institute of Family Studies on phone (03) 9214 7888 or email aifs-seminars@aifs.gov.au

To be notified about forthcoming seminars in 2008 or the availability of presentations or papers, please subscribe through the aifs website.

First National Indigenous Family and Community Strengths conference - Our Culture: A Strength To Build On

14-16 April in Newcastle

Convened by: The Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle In partnership with: The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Incorporated (SNAICC)

Fifth Australian Family and Community Strengths conference - Community Engagement: A Rewarding Business

16-18 April in Newcastle

Convened by: The Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle

Both conferences will be held at The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

To find out more go to: Family and Community Strengths conference web page.

Resource Updates

Child Support Scheme Reforms stakeholder eBulletin

The Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin is a great resource for information about the reforms being implemented from 1 July 2008. The bulletin will highlight different aspects of the new child support scheme and will help keep you up-to-date with particular issues that separated parents are concerned with, regarding child support and the reforms.

Below are links to the latest editions of the stakeholder eBulletins. If you would like to receive regular editions of this eBulletin, you can add your details to the Child Support Agency's Community Services Directory and be kept up to date with the latest news about the child support scheme reforms.


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We value your interest in this publication and seek your feedback about the articles published. Feedback notes will be kept confidential.

We also seek contributions from the sector. Should you have a topic of interest you feel the sector or industry stakeholders would be interested in, please send to the FRSP mailbox below for consideration. Those articles not selected will be saved and reconsidered for later editions.

Article contributions/feedback for the next edition is welcome by 18 April 2008. The next edition 14 will go out on 12 May 2008.

To provide feedback and/or to send topics of interest, email
frspe-news@dss.gov.au and include the subject header Feedback to FRSP Sector e-News.

Contact us

This e-newsletter is produced by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) in collaboration with the Attorney-General's Department.

To contact the editor, please email frspe-news@dss.gov.au.

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