Edition 14 - 14 May 2008

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

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

  • Parenting Orders Program Forum - 10 and 11 April 2008
    The Attorney-General's Department hosted the Parenting Orders Program Forum in Sydney on 10 and 11 April 2008. The Parenting Orders Program assists separating families who are in high conflict over parenting arrangements
  • New Family Relationship Service Program generic brochure
    The Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) generic brochure is being updated to include expanded service types.

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach 453 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

AGD Internet site expanded to include information for FRSP service providers

Following consultations with stakeholders last year, improvements have now been made to the Attorney-General's Department's website for practitioners. The new pages create a 'one-stop shop' for all practitioner resources developed by the Department.

A simplified navigation structure and several new pages have been published with resources previously only available on the Family Relationships Online 'Secure Site'.

There are dedicated pages and resources for Family Relationship Centres staff, Research and Evaluation, Useful links and more. Information that was previously available only through the 'Secure Site' can now be either downloaded directly from the website or sent on request.

Improvements have also been made to the Family Dispute Resolution pages and resources to make the information easier to access for both current and potential practitioners.

The information for service providers currently on Family Relationships Online has been moved across to the new pages, leaving that site's content purely for the general public. The 'Secure Site' will be retired on Friday 23 May 2008.

Sector News

Parenting Orders Program Forum - 10 and 11 April 2008

The Attorney-General's Department hosted the Parenting Orders Program Forum in Sydney on 10 and 11 April 2008. The Parenting Orders Program assists separating families who are in high conflict over parenting arrangements.

The Forum was facilitated by staff from UnitingCare Unifam and provided an opportunity for the 20 service providers to undertake professional development, share information and develop and enhance mentoring relationships with each other.

Over the two days of the Forum, sessions were held on a range of issues and involved small group work. Topics included the challenges of client pathways, working with difficult clients (including protocols and gap identification), working with children, clinical case studies (involving development of strategies for case management) and self care for practitioners and supervision of other staff.

Participants were also fortunate to hear a presentation on the topic of Children and Trauma and assessment of the impact of parental conflict on children.

The Forum had high levels of attendance, with about 60 managers and practitioners representing all of the services under the Parenting Orders Program. Officers from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Attorney-General's Department were also in attendance.

Feedback indicates it was a very successful event. If you would like more information, please contact the Parenting after Separation Section at Attorney-General's Department.

New Family Relationship Service Program generic brochure

The Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) generic brochure is being updated to include expanded service types.

We plan to distribute copies of the brochure to all FRSP funded organisations in June 2008.

The brochure will also be posted on the Family Relationships Online website for you to download.

Other existing FRSP brochures in the suite are complementary and can be provided to clients as appropriate.

Please destroy the old FRSP generic brochure when you receive the new brochure in the mail.

Watch this space for further updates.

For more information, please email frspe-news@dss.gov.au.

Shared parenting responsibility in Australian family law and the impact on children seminar – 13-15 April 2008

On 13 to 15 April a seminar was hosted by the Centre for Peace, Conflict and Mediation, Hawke Research Institute, at the University of South Australia.

The Seminar brought together family law and social policy practitioners to re-focus the shared parenting debate with the child at the centre.

In a sample of the key themes, there was exploration of the importance of

  • Rigour in introducing social research concepts into the law arena; that the legal interpretations of the best interest of the child need to consider perspectives derived from sound research and acknowledging the statistical prevalence of abusive environments in highly conflicted cases that are more likely to present to the courts.
  • The role of the primary caregiver and the importance of attachment in early childhood. These factors highlighted benefits of quality shared time as opposed to the amount of shared time.
  • The need for care in making long term property settlements that may financially disadvantage children in the future was explored in research of parenting arrangements.

All presentations are available online at the Hawke Institute website. A working party has been formed to advocate changes to the Family Law.

CSA stakeholder survey

In order to assess how effectively it currently engages with stakeholders and to plan future work in this area, the CSA is conducting a stakeholder survey. This is your chance to have your say!

The Child Support Agency is committed to working effectively with its stakeholders to improve the support available for separating and separated families. The CSA works with a wide range of stakeholders across Australia.

The survey is available online - please click on the link and follow the instructions: CSA stakeholder survey.

The closing date for the survey is 23 May 2008.

This is an important opportunity for you to provide your views. Please take the time to complete the survey.

Conference and Events

National Children's Contact Services Conference – 2-3 June 2008

A National Children's Contact Services Conference will be held in Adelaide on Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 June 2008 for practitioners and managers working in Children's Contact Services. Each service will be invited to send two staff to the Conference.

The Conference will provide opportunities for professional development with a focus on skills for both practitioners and managers working in current services and for the fourteen new services that will begin operating from July this year. This will include small group work on contemporaneous and objective observational note taking, differentiating between child inclusive and child focussed practices, and discussion of issues surrounding management of feedback, complaints and staff performance. Participants will also have the opportunity to network with other services and stakeholders.

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.

National Stepfamily Practitioner Training update

Stepfamily Association of Victoria Inc (SAVI) has received funding from the Australian Government to provide stepfamily practitioner training workshops in each state and territory in May and June 2008.

Training will increase practitioners' understanding of and responsiveness to the needs of Australian stepfamilies. The workshops will be relevant to practitioners in Family Relationship Centres, Family Relationship Service Program-funded organisations and the broader community sector.

One day workshops will be conducted in conjunction with community partners listed below, in the following regional and capital cities:

State City Date Community partner Telephone
ACT Canberra 26th June Relationships Australia (02)61227129
NSW Bathurst (full)
Gosford 6th May Centacare (02) 4324 6403
Tamworth 5th June Anglican Counselling Service (02)67652527
NT Darwin 11th June Relationships Australia

(08) 8923 4943

QLD Cairns 25th June Centacare (07) 4044 0130
SA Adelaide 6th June Lutheran Community Care (08)83313111
TAS Launceston
Hobart 20th June Positive Solutions (03) 6231 1301
VIC Melbourne 16th May SAVI, Daniela Zimmermann

(03) 9481 1500

Mildura (full)
WA Fremantle (full)

For further information, contact the Stepfamily Association of Victoria Inc (SAVI)
Daniela Zimmermann, Training Manager, danielaz@stepfamily.org.au
Steve Martin, Executive Officer stevem@stepfamily.org.au
Phone (03) 9481 1500,
Fax (03) 9481 1700
Information on National Training 2008 is also available on the SAVI 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
Adelaide Showground, Wayville (TBA) 2009

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.

Training opportunity: Working with Men

Ross Fletcher is Senior Project Worker with UnitingCare Burnside, Men and Family Relationships Program and has operated the Fathers' Support Service at Parramatta for almost a decade. Ross is running the Working with Men training.

As the fathering role has evolved in the community, many men recognise the need for support, advice and education outside of their usual sources such as work, family and friends. They seek quality, professional services that are inviting to them to engage.

Fathers seeking help for the first time may experience mixed feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Their approach needs to be met with understanding, yet their behaviour needs to be addressed with honesty and directness.

What to expect from the training:

  • Understanding the help seeking behaviour
  • Making a meaningful connection in engaging fathers
  • Gaining cooperation from fathers
  • Responding to a father's grief
  • Being okay with open emotions
  • Gender issues

Who is the training for?
This training is for workers who encounter fathers in their current work or who are interested in working with fathers. This may include group workers, counsellors, legal people, child protection workers and workers in advocacy roles.

Time: 9.30am to 4.30pm

WWM 2 Working with Men Tuesday 20 May 2008
WWM 3 Working with Men & Conflict Wednesday 21 May 2008
WMM 4 Working with Separated Fathers Thursday 22 May 2008

For more information about each workshop or course, click on the course name

For a copy of a registration form, click HERE.

For a copy of feedback from the Institute of Family Practice training, click HERE.

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 16 May 2008. The next edition 15 will go out on 9 June 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

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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