Edition 18 - 8 September 2008

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

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

  • New care estimator for separated parents
    New 'care estimator' developed by the Child Support Agency (CSA) available on the CSA website from 25 August 2008.
  • Attorney Generals Department officially opens Family Relationship Centres
    Attorney-General Robert McClelland officially launches new Family Relationship Centres in Adelaide South Australia, Chermside and Logan in Queensland, Melbourne, Broadmeadows and Chadstone in Victoria, and Parramatta, Bankstown and Gosford in NSW
  • Keys to Living Together resources
    The next suite of family relationship resources in development will target families with young children with disability, rural couples and men.

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach 459 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

Hot News

New care estimator for separated parents

Separated parents can use this new tool to estimate their child support care percentage and level by selecting dates in an online calendar.

Parents’ care percentages and levels are used to calculate how much child support they receive or pay under the new Child Support Scheme introduced on 1 July 2008. The care estimator helps parents understand how their child support payments are calculated under the child support formula, and can also be used for planning care of children into the future.

Family Relationship Centre staff and other service providers working with separated parents or parents experiencing relationship difficulties can also use the tool, in conjunction with CSA’s combined child support-family assistance estimator, also available on our website.

To use the estimator, follow these steps:

  1. Select a starting date for the parent’s twelve month care period
  2. Select days on which the parent has care from the calendar, selecting recurring days using a 'recurring care' section.

The estimator tells you the total number of days of care, the care percentage and the child support care level, and provides links to explanations of care levels.

CSA staff also have access to a corresponding care calculator.

Visit www.csa.gov.au to access the care estimator, or the combined child support-family assistance estimator. More information about care levels is also available on this site.

The Attorney-General launches new Family Relationship Centres

The Attorney-General Robert McClelland recently officially launched new Family Relationship Centres in Adelaide South Australia, Chermside and Logan in Queensland, Melbourne, Broadmeadows and Chadstone in Victoria, and Parramatta, Bankstown and Gosford in NSW.

In opening the centres Attorney-General McClelland said “Separation and divorce can be extremely traumatic events. Family Relationship Centres offer vital support for separated parents so they can resolve their conflicts and place the interests of their children first”.

With 24 Family Relationship Centres commencing operations on 1 July this year and the Broome Centre commencing on 1 October, there will be a network of 65 Centres operating across Australia.

Keys to Living Together resources

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) released the first suite of Keys to Living Together resources in May 2007. The Keys to Living Together series is a relationship education and skills resource for people to use in their own home.

The three resource kits available at present are:

  • Keys to Living Together – Taking the First Step for newly committed couples
  • Keys to Living Together – Instant Families for blended and stepfamilies
  • Keys to Living Together – Then We Were Three for families with a new baby.

Each resource kit contains a DVD and mini magazine. Distribution and promotion for these kits within the general public and the community sector continues.

The next suite of resources in development will target families with young children with disability, rural couples and men. A successful reference group meeting took place on 27 August 2008 involving consultation with representatives from the sector and relevant peak bodies, on the new resources for families with young children with disability and rural couples.

A reference group meeting to discuss a new relationship resource for men will be held in October 2008, following the outcome of market research to inform the focus and development of this resource.

It is anticipated that the new suite of Keys to Living Together will be released in July 2009.

All the Keys to Living Together resource kits will be independently evaluated in 2009.

Sector News

Getting tough or getting together – using a Restorative Framework for better student engagement in connected communities

The Wodonga Network schools in partnership with local Police and community agencies in north east Victoria have developed an innovative model, bringing together Restorative Practices (RP) and Family and Community Group Conferencing (FCGC). This practice is supporting cultural change, demonstrated by improved outcomes for disengaged young people and their families.

Partners include: Wodonga Middle Years College, Kiewa Valley Primary, Wodonga South Primary, Melrose Primary, Wodonga Police, Upper Hume Community Health Service and our research partners, Deakin University and Australian Catholic University. The project has also had excellent support from the Centre for Adolescent Health (Melbourne) for the past three years.

The model involves RP and FCGC being used to address issues of disengagement, family violence and breakdown, anti-social behaviour, bullying and child and young person wellbeing. The success of this unique, strength based model places the student and their family at the centre of this family led decision making process.

RP has been introduced in many schools across Australia and FCGC has been used as a model within the Justice System for some time; however, using both methods in a complementary approach gives improved outcomes for the student and family. This early intervention approach has also improved service coordination and strengthened relationships between families, schools, police and community based agencies.

Case studies and data currently being collected demonstrate significant reductions in suspensions, expulsions, criminal activity and increases in student attendance and engagement through improved academic outcomes.

For more information contact Shandell Blythe, Resolve Adolescent Counsellor and Family Mediation, Family and Community Group Conference Convenor, Upper Hume Community Health Service, Wodonga.

Phone: 02 6022 8888 Mobile: 0427 929 245 Email: sblythe@uhchs.vic.gov.au

Family Law Evaluation – survey of FRSP clients

As many of you are aware, the Australian Institute of Family Studies (the Institute) is undertaking an evaluation of the changes to the family law system introduced by the Australian Government in July 2006. The Service Provision Project component of the evaluation considers the interaction between the reforms and family relationship service delivery.

To date, both qualitative interviews and web-based surveys have collected information from the perspectives of many service providers, with further surveys across the sector planned for later this year and early 2009.

However, to fully understand how the reforms are working in the context of family relationship services, the perspectives of service clients are also needed. To address this, the Institute is planning to survey a sample of service clients.

While the development of the client survey is still underway, it is clear that service providers will play an important role in its success.

To protect the privacy of clients, the Institute will be asking services to help inform clients about the survey and to invite them to take part.

It is important that we have as many responses as possible to ensure that the findings represent the views of clients from across both the sector and different groups within the community. This will help ensure that the results of the study are both useful and robust.

While we acknowledge that your assistance will create some extra work for a group of already very busy people, the Service Provision Project team will work closely with all services to help minimise the impact of the project on both staff and clients.

We will be providing more details about the client survey in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or questions about the client survey or any other aspects of the evaluation you are welcome to call Kelly Hand, Manager, Service Provision Project, on 1800 352 275 or email us

New FRSP Online Client Consent Form

A new client consent form has been developed after consultation with the Family Relationship Services Australia, FRSP Online working group and Deacons.

This form is to be implemented with the FRSP Online update release which is scheduled for 4 October.  Service providers are required to either use the new form which will be available from the FRSP Online website or incorporate the exact text from the form into their own document.  The text must not be changed in any way.  The Department, together with the working group, will review the impact of the new form to discern if further changes are required in six months time.  

For more information, please contact the FRSP Online Support Centre on 1300 137 305 or e-mail us

Conference and Events

Workshops with FRSP Managers of AMFT, SFVS and MFR

In August 2008, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) hosted four consultative workshops with managers of:

  • Adolescent Mediation and Family Therapy services
  • Specialised Family Violence Services
  • Men and Family Relationship Services.

Providers of the National Illicit Drug Strategy – Strengthening Families projects were also invited to participate.

Consultative workshops were held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide and were well attended by the sector. Over 100 representatives from identified services participated in the workshops, providing an invaluable insight into the delivery of services and a great opportunity for networking.

The workshops provided a great opportunity for participants, both FaHCSIA and service representatives to gain a greater understanding of how the different services are supporting families and the synergies between the different service types.

FaHCSIA would like to give particular thanks to those services who offered their time to meet with FaHCSIA staff in the days prior to workshops. The time taken to talk with FaHCSIA staff is very much appreciated.

A summary on the key themes of discussions and outcomes of the workshops will be made available in the coming weeks. In the interim, further information can be obtained by emailing FRSP@dss.gov.au

Australian Government sponsors FRSPs to attend 2008 Australian Family Therapy Conference, Brisbane

The Queensland Association for Family Therapy (QAFT) is proud to be hosting the 2008 Australian Family Therapy Conference in Brisbane
from 1 to 3 October 2008.

We adopted the theme Working for Families, and have streams on mental health, family law, child protection, trauma and professional practice and training.

With keynote presentations from international speakers and workshops by local family therapists, this is a conference for those wanting to advance their skills and practical understanding of how to work effectively with families.

Australian Government sponsorship has enabled all FRSPs to attend the conference at the same significant discounted rate afforded to Family Therapy Association members.

For Conference details and associated Workshops and Registration click here

QAFT welcomes all FRSP's to the Australian Family Therapy Conference.

Ian Goldsmith
QAFT President

Family Support Drought Response Team (FSDRT) Forum

The Family Relationship Services Branch of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs will be hosting a one day networking forum in Melbourne on 29 September for 25 community organisations selected to deliver counselling services to families in Exceptional Circumstances (EC) declared areas around Australia. 

The forum will provide an opportunity for FSDRT practitioners to discuss best practice delivery models and network with other Commonwealth drought program providers.  The theme for discussion on the day will be ‘how can FSDRT providers maximise opportunities to leverage off other local service delivery systems’, and aims to provide a whole of family approach to support farming families in crisis and small businesses affected by the drought.

Service delivery best practice solutions to assist FSDRT practitioners in the delivery of the FSDRT program will be circulated to all forum participants and relevant stakeholders.

Resource Updates

eNews for Child Support parents

The new Child Support Scheme came into effect on 1 July 2008. In the lead-up to the reforms, customers and stakeholders were kept informed about the changes via regular eBulletins.

CSA customers who want to continue to receive monthly emails will now receive eNews for parents, which delivers up-to-date news and information about CSA and the Child Support Scheme.

Anyone can elect to receive eNews for parents by subscribing on the CSA website.

A new-look eBulletin for stakeholders is currently being developed and will be emailed to subscribers in October. If you haven't already subscribed, you can subscribe here.


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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 19 September 2008. The next edition 19 will go out on 6 October 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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