Edition 19 - 7 October 2008

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

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

  • new accreditation standards for family dispute resolution practitioners
  • eighteen new services to support children after separation
  • information about Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Reports for FRSP funding which are due this month.

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach approximately 600 subscribers, consisting of FRSP service providers industry stakeholders and individuals, 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


Mark Cawley
Acting Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Hot News

New accreditation standards for family dispute resolution practitioners

Family dispute resolution practitioners will need to meet new accreditation standards by 1 July 2009 under changes to the family law regulations.

The Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) Regulations 2008

The new Regulations were approved by the Governor-General on 18 September 2008. Family dispute resolution practitioners will be able to meet the new accreditation standards from 1 January 2009. The current registration system will continue until 30 June 2009.

Registered practitioners will need to have met the new requirements by 30 June 2009 to be accredited after that time.

The new accreditation system has been introduced to ensure that those providing family dispute resolution meet a set of nationally consistent standards. The new standards include specific competencies for all family dispute resolution practitioners. These include:

  • Responding to family and domestic violence in family work
  • Creating a supportive environment for the safety of vulnerable parties in dispute resolution
  • Operating in a family law environment

Training and assessment against the new accreditation standards will be delivered by registered training organisations and higher education providers.

Financial assistance will be available to help registered family dispute resolution practitioners meet the new standards. All currently registered practitioners and those registered under the current system by 28 February 2009 will be eligible to access subsidised assessments and training. See the Attorney-General’s media release.

A request for tender process has commenced to select providers to deliver subsidised assessments and training for these practitioners.

The tender is available on the Australian Government tender system at www.tenders.gov.au.

New accreditation requirements
The new accreditation requirements provide for three pathways to meet the requirements:

  1. completion of the full Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution (or the higher education provider equivalent); or
  2. an appropriate qualification or accreditation under the National Mediation Accreditation Scheme and competency in the six compulsory units from the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution (or the higher education provider equivalent); or
  3. inclusion in the Register before 1 July 2009 and competency in the three specified units (or higher education provider equivalent).

The Regulations allow for higher education providers to certify that the postgraduate course or units they provide are equivalent to those in the Vocational Graduate Diploma.

The Regulations are available on ComLaw at www.comlaw.gov.au

Australian Institute of Family Studies – Family Law Evaluation

As a part of the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ evaluation of the family law reforms, the Institute is undertaking a national study of separated parents. This study, called Family Pathways: The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families, will follow the pathways of parents who separated after the introduction of the reforms in July 2006. The study seeks to understand how changes to the family law system and child support scheme affect the lives of separated parents and their children.

Telephone interviews are being conducted with some 10,000 separated parents from all over Australia. The study has been in the field since early August, and so far over 8,000 interviews have been conducted.

In these interviews, separated parents are asked a range of questions, including questions about care arrangements for their children, how these arrangements were negotiated, and how well the arrangements are working out for all involved.

These parents will be interviewed again in mid 2009 to see how they are faring and how they have adjusted to life after separation.

A National Compact

The Australian Government, as part of its social inclusion agenda, is exploring ways to develop a new, stronger and more respectful relationship with the not-for-profit sector. The social inclusion agenda recognises the critical role the not-for-profit sector plays in delivering services, advising and developing social policy and advocating on behalf of marginalised groups. A strong relationship between the government and the sector will be crucial to the success of the agenda and related reforms.

One way the Government is exploring how to develop a stronger relationship is through the development of a National Compact. This is an agreement between the Australian Government and the not-for-profit sector that outlines how the two will work together to improve and strengthen their relationship, now and into the future.

While recognising the independence of the not-for-profit sector, a National Compact would provide a means to capture views of disadvantaged and marginalised groups and strengthen capacity within the sector to deliver efficient, effective and innovative services in response to community needs.

Initial Consultations

Senator Ursula Stephens, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, together with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), has sought views from community organisations, state and territory governments, and users of community services about the idea of a National Compact.

In addition, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) undertook a series of preliminary consultations about the not for profit sector’s views on the value of a National Compact. An expert panel was also established to provide advice on the consultation and to ensure the transparency and integrity of the process and ensure a diverse range of views are considered.

For more information please visit www.socialinclusion.gov.au/An_Australian_Compact or email AustralianCompact@dss.gov.au

Sector News

Supporting Children after Separation Program – Eighteen new services announced.

The Attorney-General Robert McClelland recently announced eighteen new services to support children dealing with the breakdown of their parents’ relationship.

The organisations invited to begin funding negotiations were recommended through the 2008 Supporting Children after Separation Program selection process.

Services are expected to open by the end of November 2008.

For further information follow the link to the press release which includes information on the locations and successful applicants.

Post Separation Cooperative Parenting services and two other FRSP services

The application process for 14 Post Separation Cooperative Parenting Services, a Regional Family Dispute Resolution service in Broken Hill, and an Early Intervention Service in Geelong will commence in October.

The Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs are seeking proposals from applicants to establish and deliver:

  • 14 Post Separation Cooperative Parenting services
  • a Regional Family Dispute Resolution service in Broken Hill
  • an Early Intervention Service in Geelong

More information about this competitive selection process including details of proposed Post Separation Cooperative Parenting service locations and selection documentation will be available online through Attorney-General's Department website and Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website from 13 October 2008.

Hard copies of the selection documentation will be available by telephoning 1800 721 283 from 13 October 2008.

Applicants must lodge their applications by 2.00pm AEDT on Monday 8 December 2008 at:

PSCP Tender Box
Attorney-General’s Department
Robert Garran Offices
National Circuit

The outcomes of the application process will be announced in March - April 2009. All new services are scheduled to open in July 2009.

Family Relationship Services for Carers

Family Relationship Services for Carers, a nationally offered service type under the FRSP, provides mediation and counselling to assist families who are:

  • concerned about the future care of their family member with disability
  • thinking about making arrangements for the future care of their family member with disability
  • experiencing disagreement around the future care needs of a family member with disability.

Services are tailored to family circumstances and may be delivered in individual, couple or family settings.

Families who are considering the future care of their family member with disability can use these services. The service provides an impartial person to assist families to take into account the needs and interests of the whole family unit when considering future care arrangements.

The state and territory provider contact details for this service type are given below. Please note that the name for the service varies between states and territories as shown below in brackets.

Services provided under Family Relationship Services for Carersare free of charge.

Centacare Canberra – Goulburn
(Family Counselling and Mediation Service (for carers and families and families supporting a person with disability))
02 6162 6100

Interrelate Family Centres
(Relationship Services for Carers)
1300 736 966

Centacare Catholic Family and
Community Services
(Disability Carers Family Relationship Service)
1800 337 552

Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide Inc
(Carers Mediation and Counselling Service)
08 8202 5190 or 08 8150 7213

Relationships Australia Tasmania
(Disability Carers Program)
1800 002 222

Eastern Access Community Health Inc
(Family Relationship Service for Carers (with a family member with disability))
1300 303 346

Anglicare WA Inc
(Disability Counselling and Mediation Service)
08 9263 2050

Centacare NT
(Family Relationship Services for Carers)
08 8944 2000

Alternatively, call the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321 8.00am–8.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am–4.00pm Saturdays (except national public holidays).

Child Support Agency
The popular Me and My… series of booklets are under review

The Child Support Agency (CSA) is reviewing the popular Me and My… series of booklets. The booklets were developed by CSA to support families experiencing separation, providing practical ideas and advice on a range of issues, including hints on reducing conflict, money and re-partnering.

The series was released between 2002 and 2006 and the review aims to ensure the publications remain relevant and useful for parents and families affected by separation. The review will consider if the products are still practical, the content of the booklets is appropriate and look for ways to further improve the series.

If you or your organisation uses the booklets, the CSA wants to hear from you. You can contribute to this review by completing a short (less than 10 minutes) survey online.

To order copies of the Me and My… series go to www.csa.gov.au or call 1800 040 972.

Conference and Events

Family Relationship Services National Conference 'Collective Wisdom: together we are better' – 5 to 7 November 2008

Places are filling fast for the Family Relationship Services Australia 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 our website.

Queen Elizabeth Centre (QEC) 5th Biennial International Conference: Reaching Out To Vulnerable Families: Achieving Better Outcomes for Children – 20 and 21 November 2008

As one of Victoria's leading providers of early parenting services, QEC has helped parents to manage challenges that arise during early parenthood for 90 years. QEC's core business is to provide specialised care, support and education to families who are experiencing difficulties raising infants and children up to three years of age.

QEC is delighted to facilitate the 2008 conference to bring together academics, policy makers and practitioners from child protection and family services, early education and intervention and child and maternal health sectors across Australia and provides a significant opportunity for professional development and networking.

The key themes of the conference align closely with the current public policy position of FaHCSIA and include:

  • Supporting early childhood development.
  • Promoting positive infant and parental mental health
  • Preventing family violence
  • Protecting the wellbeing of children at risk of adverse life outcomes
  • Engaging fathers
  • Access for Aboriginal and other CALD families
  • Supporting staff engaged in challenging work with families

The speaker program includes international experts as well as prominent Australian presenters. For further information please follow the link www.qec.org.au/biennial-conference.php?id=84

The Institute of Family Practice

is pleased to announce that it now has the following qualifications on its scope:

  • Certificate IV in Relationship Education
  • Diploma of Relationship Education
  • Diploma of Family Intake and Support Work
  • Vocational Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling
  • Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution

These new nationally recognised qualifications bring together the experience of UnitingCare Unifam and UnitingCare Burnside in developing innovative programs for the community welfare sector. RPL will be available to enable practitioners to obtain all or part of these qualifications.

Visit www.ifp.nsw.edu.au or phone 02 8830 0755 for more information.

Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report

The Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report for FRSP funding is due on 31 October. FRSP service providers are no longer required to submit Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Reports on a FaHCSIA template. FRSP service providers are now required to ensure that they provide information as shown below:

For each year of operation you must provide Us with an Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report:

    1. in respect of the Funding provided by the Department under this Funding Agreement;
    2. prepared in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards;
    3. reporting income and expenditure in respect of the Funding provided under this Agreement with expenditure to be reported for each Service Type, irrespective of the number of outlets/locations in which the Service Type is operating against the approved budget (where applicable) or, where there is no approved Budget, against major account code items;
    4. verifying that you have spent the Funding provided on the Activity and in accordance with this Agreement; and
    5. any other matter required by Us for accountability purposes, including, without limitation, the matters set out in sub-Item E2 of the Schedule.
  1. you must ensure that the Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report is independently audited by an Approved Auditor in accordance with Clause 7.5 of the Terms and Conditions. You are responsible for paying for this audit.
    The Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report submitted to Us must be accompanied by a report from Your Approved Auditor that includes an opinion on:
    1. whether the Annual Audited Financial Acquittal Report presents the financial transactions fairly in accordance with the Funding Agreement and Guidelines, applicable Australian Accounting Standards and other mandatory professional reporting requirements and is based on proper accounts and records;
    2. whether Your organisation’s management has ensured that the rules and legislation governing Your organisation has been complied with; and
    3. where there is an audit qualification or limitation of scope, an outline of the reasons for the qualifications or limitation of scope, and any related recommendations.
  1. where required by Us, You agree to pass on to Your Approved Auditor any request from Us detailing additional audit requirements.

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 20 October 2008. Edition 20 of the FRSP e-News will be emailed on 10 November 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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