Edition 17 - 15 August 2008

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

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

  • evaluation of the Family Law Reform
  • information on the new Indigenous sub-site providing support for the Child Support Agency’s Indigenous customers online
  • announcement of the winner of the first ever annual SACS award for leadership in the not-for profit sector
  • information on the recent update to the Family Dispute Resolution brochure from the Attorney-General's Department

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach 462 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders to share service delivery news or to raise any issues of which you think the sector should be aware.

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


Robyn Fleming
Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Sector News

Australian Institute of Family Studies – evaluation of the Family Law Reform

Since our last article in the April FRSP Sector e-News, the family law evaluation team has been very busy. It’s time for an update about our activities.

Fieldwork for the first survey of staff for the Service Provision Project has now been completed and we are analysing the data. This is a fascinating process and we would like to thank all of the organisations and individuals who took part, for providing us with their insights into the new family law system.

The Legislation and Courts Project team has also been busy interviewing judicial officers and lawyers across Australia about the changes to the family law system. They are preparing to conduct a national survey of family lawyers later in the year.

The pilot for the Families Project’s Family Pathways: the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families has now been completed. Fieldwork for the main survey – which will involve around 10,000 parents – will be commencing in August.

As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, a survey of service clients is also planned for later this year. We are currently developing survey instruments and sampling methodologies and will provide a more detailed overview of this study in next month’s newsletter. In the meantime, we would welcome any suggestions about how best to undertake this project within the context of your own services.

If you have any suggestions or questions about the evaluation you are welcome to call Kelly Hand, Manager, Service Provision Project, on 1800 352 275 or email us at familylawevaluation@aifs.gov.au

New Indigenous website for separated parents

The Child Support Agency (CSA) launched a new Indigenous website last month to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander separated parents with child support enquiries.

The website was developed following recent market research into the communication preferences of Indigenous separated parents.

The Human Services website provides information about child support, including a step-by-step guide to registering a child support case, links to support products and services and a list of upcoming regional and community visits by CSA staff.

Indigenous community organisations and service providers are encouraged to visit the site so they can help separated parents with their child support questions and direct them to relevant support services.

The CSA is also working hard to ensure Indigenous separated parents are fully informed about their rights and responsibilities in other ways. For example, in the past three months the CSA has held several Indigenous information sessions in Dubbo, Darwin, Alice Springs, Yarrabah, Palm Island, Port Augusta and Shepparton.

This month we will be holding an information session at the Redfern Community Centre on 19 August at 5.30pm.

There will be Indigenous CSA staff available to answer questions about child support as well as other service providers from the community.

Separated parents who would like to discuss their child support options in person can visit one of the CSA’s offices or Regional Service Centres, listed on the website at www.csa.gov.au. Alternatively, they can call 13 12 72. Indigenous parents can ask to speak to one of the CSA’s Indigenous officers if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Family Relationship Services Branch is moving to a new location

To accommodate departmental restructuring, the Family Relationship Services (FRS) Branch has moved. FRS Branch’s new physical address will be:

Woden Town Square
Level 2
Bank House
Woden, ACT 2606

Our postal address will remain as before:

Box 7576
Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610

Although email services will be unaffected, phone numbers will change. We will be contactable through the FaHCSIA Switchboard Toll Free: 1300 653 227 (calls from mobile phones charged at mobile rates) or TTY: 1800 260 402. Please be patient if enquiries take longer than usual due to the move.

‘Oscar’ for community services worker

Christine Barca has proved herself the leader in the field by winning the top award for charity workers in Victoria and New South Wales.

In an ‘Oscars’ style ceremony attended by staff from more than 60 charities, Christine, a senior manager with GordonCare for Children, walked away with the first ever annual SACS award for leadership in the not-for profit sector and a cheque for $10,000.

An elite panel of judges brought together by the SACS Consulting group recognised the ground breaking work Christine has done to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in our society. The judges felt that Christine “exemplifies outstanding leadership in the front line in providing care and services for children from separated families. Through her passion, energy and innovative approaches she has made an extraordinary contribution”.

Christine commented, “I am very humbled, thrilled and honoured by the experience”. She said she “was in disbelief” as she accepted her award and credited her success as a leader to her extraordinary team and supportive family.

Christine Barca joined GordonCare in 2004 to lead the implementation of the Parent Orders Program, which was a first in Victoria. Christine set out to integrate this program with the Children’s Contact Services and drove the development of a common program management methodology, resulting in a seamless program now called Services for Separated Families.

GordonCare, established in Melbourne over 120 years ago, is the "quiet achiever" in the charity world and over the years has provided homes and hope for thousands of children and families, especially in the southern areas of Melbourne. 

Christine can be contacted on her mobile 0400 227 437 and at the office (03) 9555 1439

1125 Nepean Highway
Highett  Victoria  3190

From left to right of the photo:

Richard Bluck, Executive Director of Leadership Victoria, Ashley Dickinson, Commander in Charge, Operations Co-ordination Department, Victoria Police, Janice van Reyk - Sustainability Consultant, Manidis Roberts, Andrew Marty, Managing Director SACS Consulting, Christine Barca, Manager Services for Separated Families, GordonCare for Children, Robyn Charlwood, Consultant, ANZ Trustees, Stephen O’Kane, Secretary, Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Victoria

Conference and Events

Family Relationship Services national conference 'Collective Wisdom: together we are better'

Family Relationship Services Australia is hosting the inaugural national conference 'Collective Wisdom: together we are better' in Cairns, Queensland, 5-7 November. The conference offers an exceptional opportunity for sharing knowledge and identifying and progressing collaborative practice.

This national conference provides a unique opportunity for:

  • new practitioners in FRSP services to develop their skills and networks – with the workforce estimated to have doubled since 2005 this is important and timely
  • new and experienced practitioners to workshop the implications of new approaches and research findings in areas of specific service delivery and practice relevant only to the FRSP
  • senior executives and service managers to tap expertise and share information about the implementation of service models such as FRCs, carer support and drought support packages
  • organisations to work collectively to identify strategies for addressing challenges such as workforce shortages
  • the FRSP sector to hear from government and related sectors about the strategic issues and directions that may impact on the delivery of services to Australian families
  • to identify the future direction for the sector.

FRSA looks forward to a diverse range of presentations relating to family relationships and relationship support service delivery. For further information visit the Family and Relationship Services website.

Be prepared – new Family Dispute Resolution Accreditation requirements are coming!

Training offered nationally by the Family Mediation Centre.

The Family Mediation Centre has been offering Family Dispute Resolution and Mediation training since 1985. As a Registered Training Organisation we are accredited to offer individuals and organisations the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution, first course starting in 2009, and Recognition Assessment for individual units of this course.

For further enquiries please call  (03) 9556 5333 or visit our  

Australian Institute of Relationship Studies (AIRS) training

Supervision Training – this training consists of four workshops and can be attended individually. Together these workshops provide the fundamentals for participants to enhance current practice or work towards promotional possibilities.

14, 21 and 28 November and 5 December 2008

For more information email us at airs@ransw.org.au or visit our website

FRSP Online training

Face-to-face training on FRSP Online/Reporting Portal will be available in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne at Cliftons training facilities from 18 August to 4 September 2008.

FaHCSIA will provide the training free of charge, but all other participant expenses will need to be met by the nominating organisation.
For more information visit the FRSP Online website.

Resource Updates

Update to Family Dispute Resolution brochure.

The Attorney-General's Department recently revised and updated the Family Dispute Resolution brochure (FPB006). This revised and updated brochure provides current information regarding family dispute resolution, including changes to the family law system from 1 July 2008 and the requirement for certificates before filing parenting matters in the courts.

The revised brochure features a picture of a young boy straddling a chair and (out-of-focus) in the background a man and woman. The original Family Dispute Resolution brochure featured a picture of two (partially visible) people sitting on either end of a park bench. The revised brochure has remained orange in colour. The purple brochure, Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution, has also been discontinued and is no longer available. The original Family Dispute Resolution and Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution brochures should now no longer be distributed to clients.

To order the revised and updated Family Dispute Resolution brochure, please telephone 1800 114 393 between 8:30am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday (except national public holidays) or visit Family Relationships Online at www.familyrelationships.gov.au and click on the Brochures and Publications link.

Child Support Scheme Reforms stakeholder eBulletin

The Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin is a great source of 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 concern separated parents 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, send it 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 15 August 2008. The next edition 18 will go out on 8 September 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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