Edition 25 - May 2009

Welcome Message

Welcome to the 25th edition of the Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Sector e-News.

Some of the interesting topics for you this month include:

  • Your chance to tell us what you think about the family law reforms
  • Information on the complaints processes for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners
  • Attorney-General Department’s subsidised assessment and training scheme
  • Social research to undertake a Workforce Mapping Project
  • The Annual Child Support Stakeholder Survey
  • An invitation to share your family stories
  • Changes to the definition of income and how certain types of income affect some Centrelink payments
  • Scoping for the Leadership and Governance training

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 you think the sector should be aware of.

To keep the FRSP e-News focussed on issues of interest to the FRSP, details about training opportunities can be emailed to Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) for consideration. Information about training and events held nationally can be found on the FRSA website.

FRSP e-News seeks contributions from the sector on practice updates and policy issues relevant to the FRSP Sector. Should you have a topic of interest you feel the sector or industry stakeholders would be interested in please send it to the FRSP mailbox for consideration. Articles should be less than 300 words and in paragraph format.

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

Regards

Robyn Fleming
Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Disclaimer: The opinions, comments and/or analysis expressed in this document are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Sector News

The Survey of Family Relationship Staff is in its last week! Don’t miss your chance to tell us what you think about the family law reforms.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies is undertaking research about the changes to the family law system introduced by the Australian Government in July 2006.

We are seeking your experiences of how the changes to the family law system are working in the context of both new and expanded services about what has worked, what could be done better, and how the reforms are affecting the people who use your service.

This is an important opportunity to have your say about how the reforms are impacting on your service and the families who access it, as well as a chance to have your say about how you would like services to be delivered to families in the future.

Your participation is voluntary and your responses are strictly confidential: no information about individuals – or the agencies they work for – will be identified in reporting the findings of the study.

The survey can be completed online or via hard copy.

If you would like to take part please call the Service Provision Project team on 1800 352 275 or email familylawevaluation@aifs.gov.au.

Complaints Processes for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners

Existing registered family dispute resolution practitioners and practitioners who meet the new accreditation standards in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 must have access to a complaints mechanism/s that will cover all family dispute resolution services they provide. 

The intention of a complaints mechanism is that there will be a process which is independent from the practitioner to deal with complaints.  Examples of complaints mechanisms include:

  • an internal complaints mechanism established by an organisation of which the practitioner is an affiliate or employee or on whose behalf the practitioner provides services
  • a complaints mechanism established by a professional association of which the practitioner is a member
  • complaints procedures of statutory bodies established by the Commonwealth, a State or Territory.

It is more appropriate for family dispute resolution practitioners operating as individuals or small businesses to use a complaints mechanism established by a professional association of which the practitioner is a member. Internal complaints mechanisms should not be used unless sufficient independence of process can be demonstrated.

Practitioners are expected to observe guiding principles of accessibility, fairness, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in developing appropriate complaints mechanisms.

For further information on accreditation and registration see www.ag.gov.au/fdrproviders or contact the Practitioner Registration Unit on 1800 025 255 or FDRRegistration@ag.gov.au

Attorney-General’s Department’s subsidised assessment and training scheme

From 1 July 2009, all family dispute resolution practitioners will need to meet the following three key competencies from the Vocational Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution (CHC80207) to maintain registration after 30 June 2009:

  • Respond to family and domestic violence in family work (CHCDFV811A)
  • Create an environment that supports the safety of vulnerable parties in dispute resolution (CHCDISP804A); and
  • Operate in a family law environment (CHCFAM505A). 

Subsidised assessment and training – important dates

The Australian FDR Training Group is delivering subsidised assessment and training for practitioners who were registered as family dispute resolution practitioners by 28 February 2009.

Family dispute resolution practitioners eligible for the Attorney-General’s Department’s subsidised assessment and training scheme should complete their assessment and training by 31 May 2009 to maintain continuous registration after 30 June 2009.

Between March and June 2009, the Australian FDR Training Group is offering the three required competencies in the form of two modules:

  1. Operate in a family law environment (CHCFAM505A); and
  2. Domestic violence and vulnerable parties (CHCDFV811A and CHCDISP804A).

Practitioners may elect to complete the modules through one (or a combination) of the following pathways:

  • Application for Recognition (for experienced practitioners who do not require further learning)
  • Training will be available both online and face to face in every State and Territory.

A pathway selection guide is available to assist practitioners to choose the most suitable pathway for their situation.  This guide and other information about the training and recognition process is available on the Australian FDR Training Group website www.fdrtraining.edu.au

Please go to www.fdrtraining.edu.au and enrol now to complete your assessment and training by 31 May 2009.

Questions about training should be directed to the Australian FDR Training Group on (08) 8245 8145 or via email helpenrol@rasa.org.au.

Questions about the final Accreditation Standards or eligibility for the subsidised training should be directed to the Attorney-General’s Department’s Practitioner Registration Unit on 1800 025 255 or via email fdrregistration@ag.gov.au.

Social Research to Undertake a Workforce Mapping Project

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) have commissioned Colmar Brunton Social Research to undertake a Family Relationship Services workforce mapping project.

The overall objective of the project is to generate a map and a base profile of the national FRSP workforce.  The research will be used to provide data on the nature of the FRSP workforce and to inform future policy on how to best support the workforce. 

The project comprises of 2 components: the organisational survey and the individual staff survey.  The organisational survey component will involve a census of the 104 Family Relationship Service organisations that operate across the country, focusing on particular aspects of the workforce such as training and qualifications, type of work, and pay rates.  This will require each organisation to complete a questionnaire providing accurate details of the numbers and characteristics of their staff.

This organisational survey will be supported by a second survey of individual staff members.  This component of the project will help to get information on how staff are feeling towards their positions, focusing on training, satisfaction and future intentions.

FaHCSIA and Colmar Brunton are working with Family Relationship Services Australia, Attorney-General’s Department and the Joint Sector Government Workforce Development Working Group to develop the surveys.

FaHCSIA is hoping for a high participation rate from organisations in order to collect accurate and reliable data on the workforce.   FaHCSIA and Colmar Brunton will contact all FRSP organisations with further details upon commencement of the project.

Annual Child Support Stakeholder Survey

In late April 2009, the Child Support Agency (CSA) will be conducting its second annual stakeholder engagement survey. An email with a link to the online survey will be sent to key stakeholders including members of the national and state-based child support stakeholder engagement groups, and organisations who work with CSA’s Regional Service Centres.. 

The survey will measure key aspects of CSA’s engagement such as:

  • the extent to which stakeholders feel that the CSA is actively engaging them and providing them with opportunities to enhance support provided to families;
  • the effectiveness of the child support stakeholder engagement group meetings; and
  • whether CSA can do more to build awareness and knowledge of the Child Support Scheme and services provided by CSA.

The results of the survey will be used to plan CSA’s future stakeholder engagement activities and to identify ways to strengthen the stakeholder engagement groups.

A summary of the survey findings will be published in CSA’s Child Support Stakeholder News.

Completing the survey will only take about 10 minutes.

Please contact stakeholders@csa.gov.au if you have questions about the CSA Stakeholder Engagement Survey.

Families to share their stories

Parents and children’s stories can help other families. Research shows that separated parents want to hear about how other parents managed separation and the challenges associated with shared parenting.

If you know of a parent or child who would like to share their experience, contact us at media@csa.gov.au to find out more.

Have your say about CSA

The Child Support Agency has added its 'Customer has a say' phone survey to the CSA website, allowing customers to provide their views of the service provided by the CSA via the online channel. Accessed from a button at the right-hand side of the website, customers are invited to have their say about CSA. Results are aggregated with the phone survey and used to inform CSA service delivery improvements over time.

CSA website user satisfaction survey

The Child Support Agency has launched its six monthly website user satisfaction survey to ask customers, stakeholders and other users what they like and dislike about the CSA website. The survey is used to benchmark user satisfaction with the website over time and guide ongoing development. The latest survey includes a component asking respondents about their use of various online tools to help the agency understand how to engage them more actively online into the future. 

Changes to the definition of income for Centrelink customers

From 1 July 2009, there will be changes to how certain types of income affect some Centrelink payments. The changes will also affect what Centrelink defines as income. Depending on their circumstances, some people may be affected and may need to provide additional information to Centrelink to receive the correct amount of family assistance.

Definition of income

The changes to the definition of income may affect people if they receive Family Tax Benefit, Baby Bonus or Child Care Benefit and:

  1. they make Reportable Superannuation Contributions, and / or
  2. they own investments.

It is important to remember that what Centrelink defines as assessable income is not always the same as what the Australian Tax Office defines as taxable income.

Reportable Superannuation Contributions include discretionary contributions, also known as concessional or before-tax contributions. For example, voluntary salary-sacrificed contributions made by the employer on behalf of the employee or total superannuation contributions made by a self-employed person for which they can claim a tax deduction. Reportable Superannuation Contributions need to be declared to Centrelink as part of the family income estimate.

Net losses from financial investments will also be included to calculate family assistance from 1 July 2009. This is the loss from investment earnings, not capital losses. If a person expects to make a net financial investment loss this needs to be declared as income for the family income estimate. Centrelink already includes net losses from rental properties as income. Together, net losses from rental properties and net losses from investment income are known as total net investment losses.

For more information about the changes to the definition of income, visit www.centrelink.gov.au  or call 13 6150.

Conference and Training

Scoping for the Leadership and Governance Training

Leadership and Governance training will be developed for both government and non-government sectors to give potential leaders of community organisations the skills to become effective leaders, and will enhance partnerships under the compact. The dual focus of the program will be leadership and management.

Families Australia is currently scoping human resource development requirements in relation to leadership and governance and available leadership/governance courses for the family services and parent/child services sector, including government workers collaborating with this sector. Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) will consult with the Family Support Program (FSP) sector, and some organisations will be contacted by FRSA regarding their development needs and required content for the course.

The Leadership and Governance training course is currently in the scoping stage, with pilot training to be developed at a later date.

Resource News

Child Support Stakeholder News…working together to support separated families

CSA produces a monthly e-newsletter – Child Support Stakeholder News…working together to support separated families.  With information tailored for stakeholders it’s an update on events, products and information to assist you in supporting separated parents and their children.

CSA is keen to receive feedback or ideas for articles of interest to stakeholders. If you have feedback or a story idea please email stakeholders@csa.gov.au.

You can also subscribe to receive your monthly copy of Child Support Stakeholder News…working together to support separated families and updates about this site.

Subscription

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Feedback

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 8 May 2009. Edition 26 of the FRSP e-News will be emailed on 1 June 2009.

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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Content Updated: 27 September 2013