Edition 3 - 9 April 2007


Welcome to the third edition of the Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Sector

Just like the first edition, the second edition attracted a significant increase in subscriptions with an increase of 20 per cent in the number of people registered. 

The e-newsletter is now sharing service delivery news and raising important issues relevant to the sector with about 290 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders each month. 

In this edition, Relationships Australia Queensland has kindly shared their case study analysis on innovative service delivery. The Child Support Agency has also provided their latest information on an initiative with the Australian General Practice Network.

To contribute an article to the fourth 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 topics

Father Inclusive Practice Pilot update

The Father Inclusive Practice (FIP) Pilot is now underway and will assist eight Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Early Intervention Services (EIS) and eight Early Childhood Program (ECP) services to better meet the needs of fathers.  

Specialist practitioners have been selected and will begin preparing the FIP Good Practice Guides in early May.

The closing date for expressions of interest from FRSP EIS has been extended to 20 April 2007.  Successful applications will be announced on 27 April 2007.

The FIP Pilot is a wonderful opportunity for you to contribute to the continued development of the FRSP.  The FIP Pilot overview has further information on the:

  • support FaCSIA will provide for participating organisations;
  • Pilot selection criteria; and
  • Pilot aims, measures of success, activities and timeline.

To express interest in participating in the Pilot, please respond to the selection criteria and email your response to Neal Ollett at neal.ollett@dss.gov.au.

For more information, please call Neal Ollett on (02) 6212 9167.


The new representative body for the Family Relationship Services Sector

The Inaugural Board of Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) has produced a Consultation Paper to continue to engage stakeholders in the process of shaping the new representative body for organisations funded through the Family Relationships Services Program (FRSP).  All FRSP funded organisations will receive a copy of this paper with an invitation to provide feedback.

This paper builds on the series of ‘Working Together’ publications.  It has been informed by feedback from organisations that completed the online survey conducted over December 2006 – January 2007 and/or participated in one of the consultation forums facilitated by PALM Consulting during February 2007.  Organisations not currently receiving FRSP funding, related national networks and funding bodies are also invited to participate in this consultation process.

The Consultation Paper invites feedback on a proposed membership and governance structure as well as a range of specific issues such as the process for determining the Chairperson of the organisation and proposed membership fees.  A feedback sheet accompanies the paper, alternatively comments can be sent by email to admin@frsa.org.au or by fax to 02 6281 1794.

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

A forum for Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants providers

The Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs is funding Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrant (FRSHE) providers to attend the second FRSHE provider forum in Melbourne on 11 and 12 April 2007.

The forum will:

  • continue the process of identifying good practice for FRSHE services;
  • establish a learning community; and
  • support the FRSHE evaluation process, particularly in engaging FRSHE services to document their findings through action research.

The first forum allowed FRSHE Providers to share information on their practices and discuss strategies to overcome the challenges they have faced. The second forum will build on this and allow FRSHE providers more time to share their findings. 

Some of the findings include:

  • the importance of partnerships and capitalising on each other’s expertise;
  • drawing on refugee communities for staff and up-skilling workers to meet community needs;
  • using community consultation/focus groups to develop programs;
  • the importance of flexibility in service delivery;
  • the use of creative therapeutic techniques such as using pictures, art and other media to pass messages; and
  • taking services to the clients by using venues such as schools and homes.

An evaluation report on the FRSHE is expected to be completed by September 2007.

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

New Family Relationship Service Program brochures

In response to public and sector demand, the following suite of Post Separation brochures and new family relationship service brochures were recently mailed out to service providers and a variety of industry stakeholders early in the year:

  • Family Relationship Advice Line;
  • Family Relationship Centres;
  • Family Relationships Online;
  • Children’s Contact Services;
  • Family Dispute Resolution;
  • Family Relationship Counselling; and
  • Parenting Orders Program.

These brochures can also be downloaded from www.familyrelationships.gov.au.

To complement these brochures, a suite of Early Intervention Service brochures are currently being developed and will be available in May 2007 to service providers and other industry stakeholders.

FRSP service types to be covered by these new brochures will include:

  • Men and Family Relationship Services;
  • Mensline Australia;
  • Family Relationship Education and Skills Training;
  • Adolescent Mediation and Family Therapy;
  • Specialised Family Violence Services;
  • Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants;
  • Family Relationship Services for Carers of Disabled Children; and
  • Family Relationship Services in Special Circumstances – Drought Counselling.

FRSP will continue to monitor demand for these brochures and will update and reprint when required.  Additional resources will be added to the range of information as they become available.

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

Keys to Living Together DVD and booklet

The new Keys to Living Together (KTLT) relationship education resources are in the final stages of development.

Tailored KTLT resources will be available for new couples, families with a young child and step or blended families and will provide families with easy access to relationship information.The resources will address key issues impacting on family relationships in a relaxed and friendly style.

KTLT resources will be distributed to all FRSP funded organisations over the coming months, to hand out to their clients.  They will also be posted on the internet for downloading.

Further details will be provided in next month’s edition 4.

FRSP Online update

FRSP Online is a redevelopment of FaCSIA’s previous data collection system, FaCSLink. Over the next few months, there will be some interesting developments happening with the system.

Release 1.5 is scheduled for 6 April 2007 and will enable organisations using authorised and certified third party software to enter and transfer their FRSP Online data. A number of issues have been resolved as part of the release as well as a number of minor enhancements.

Information Integrity Solutions will commence a Privacy Impact Assessment in April 2007.  This assessment will review all system functionality released during phase one of FRSP Online to ensure it’s compliance with the Information Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act. 

Training for FRSP Online was recently held in Darwin, Alice Springs, Hobart and Launceston and has now been made available for all service providers to attend. More than 250 users have received face-to-face or telephone training since December 2006. Feedback from participants indicates that the training helped them understand the basis of the program and how FRSP Online works.

The FRSP Online Support will continue to offer telephone training as an ongoing service to operators of the system.  To register your interest, please contact the FRSP Online Support Team on 1300 137 305.

To obtain a copy of the FRSP Online training manual, please visit frsponline.dss.gov.au

Compulsory Dispute Resolution Information Sessions

Information sessions about compulsory dispute resolution will be held in May 2007 by the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD)

The sessions will be held in all capital cities and some regional locations across Australia and will involve family dispute resolution practitioners, family lawyers and others working in the family law system.

Reforms to the Family Law Act 1975 are currently being introduced that will change the way courts deal with parenting disputes.  From 1 July 2007, a court will not be able to hear an application for a new parenting order unless the parties file a certificate from a registered family dispute resolution practitioner. There are some exceptions to this requirement.

The Department is establishing a family dispute resolution register for organisations and individuals authorised to issue the certificates.  FRSP organisations approved under the Act to provide family dispute resolution will be automatically registered. However, they will need to provide some additional details including the names of individuals authorised to provide family dispute resolution on the organisation’s behalf.  In addition, those individuals will be required to submit their own application for inclusion on the register. 

An accreditation system for family dispute resolution practitioners is also being introduced as part of these reforms. The system will help ensure that practitioners providing compulsory family dispute resolution meet appropriate standards.

Further details about the information sessions, compulsory dispute resolution and accreditation will be made available closer to the date and will also be available at www.familyrelationships.gov.au

Child Inclusive Practice Training

The Attorney‑General’s Department will be running four-day skills workshops on child inclusive practice following research by Dr Jenn McIntosh and Caroline M Long, Children Beyond Dispute 2006. 

The workshop is targeted at family dispute resolution practitioners and other clinical staff involved in child inclusive work. The workshop will offer a one-day information session for managers, intake workers, family advisers, and others that may be involved in Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution practice.

The first workshop will be held in Melbourne from 17 to 20 April 2007 and will be delivered for Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian participants.  Workshops in other States will follow later in the year. 

Family Pathways Network forum

On Monday 30 April and Tuesday 1 May 2007, Project Officers from the Family Pathways Networks across the nation join together in Canberra for their National forum.

The forum will provide an opportunity for the Project Officers to obtain new skills and share ideas about new and improved ways of meeting the objectives of the Networks. It is also an opportunity for the Attorney-General's Department to update the Networks on policy and program developments.

The Pathways Networks promote awareness and support on the continual cultural change in family law, provide professional development opportunities for members, and work collaboratively with other service providers, including legal professionals, to provide an integrated family law system.

Contact Sophie Charles for more details on (02) 6234 4851.

Parenting Orders Program forum

A forum for practitioners who work in services under the Parenting Orders Program will be held in Melbourne on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 May 2007.

The forum aims to provide an opportunity for recently established current service providers and organisations or those about to establish a service under the Parenting Orders Program to undertake some professional development, share information and develop and enhance mentoring relationships between the more established services and the newer services.

Eight new services are due to commence in July this year and representatives from these and other existing services will be able to discuss the operation of a Parenting Orders Program, including obstacles and barriers to effective implementation and strategies to address these issues. Participants will also increase their understanding of the stakeholders involved in the Program and develop ongoing relationships with other service providers.

Please contact Diana Xirakis for more details on (02) 6234 4875.

Regional, Rural and Remote Working Group meeting in Adelaide

The Regional, Rural and Remote (RRR) Working Group met in Adelaide on Thursday 29 and Friday 30 March 2007.

The meeting provided an opportunity for members to explore new and emerging issues in the sector which affect regional, rural and remote service delivery as well as progress activities related to the four key areas:

  • mental health and equity of services;
  • improving future funding agreements;
  • develop and promote good practice; and
  • workforce recruitment and retention.

The RRR Working Group was established in response to a number of consultative forums and is made up of representatives from Family Relationship Services Branch, the Attorney-General’s Department and six FRSP service providers with expertise in the delivery of services to RRR communities.

An update on the meeting will be provided in the next edition of the FRPS e-newsletter.

Cross Cultural Responsiveness Training Project - Telephone Discussion Groups

As part of the Cross Cultural Responsiveness Training Project, FaCSIA funded Northern Migrant Resource Centre (NMRC) to conduct three small telephone discussion groups on service delivery issues to people from diverse cultures. 

The discussion topics were:

  • Challenges of working with individuals or communities from Africa;
  • Intergenerational Conflict – case studies; and
  • Domestic Violence and Migrant Communities. 

The teleconferences provided a successful avenue for individual service providers to discuss good practice approaches to working with families and young people when intergenerational conflict arises. 

Through exchanging ideas and experience, the participants benefited from key insights to assist their efforts to support local Sudanese/African families, in particular, the youth, and increased their knowledge and understanding of domestic violence in cultural groups.

NMRC reported that the teleconference model was successful in breaking practitioner isolation and has potential to be further developed. 

Sector Updates

Palm Island family grief assistance

Families on Palm Island who may be living with unresolved grief from longstanding conflicts and struggles are now able to access non‑emergency counselling and support by Relationships Australia QLD (RAQ).

Unresolved grief can manifest into a range of behaviours including domestic and family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and emotional mood disorders. This can result in a person’s physical and mental health seriously declining and is negative to the functioning and growth of the community.

RAQ is committed to embracing foundation principles for this service including:

  • recognition that Palm Island has a long history of unresolved trauma impacting at an individual and community level;
  • the importance of regular consultation and building partnerships with the Palm Island Aboriginal Council and service providers;
  • significant community representation on the project working party to guide the service development;
  • respect for country and culture and the inclusion of such values in service development and service provision;
  • building the community capacity by transfer of skills and knowledge to individuals and service providers in the community; and
  • working with other individuals, organisations and agencies as part of an integrated approach to providing a service to Palm Island.

Over time, the service will function and be run independently by Indigenous staff from Palm Island. The service aims to address some of the issues resulting from the life experiences of people living there and has been supported by many island residents during consultations. The following are comments made to RAQ on one of our site visits.

“It’s so essential to have counselling on the Island and I’ll welcome anything at the moment.”

“The strength of this project is that the skills will kept in the community, it will be localised”

For more information, please email nrae@relateqld.com.au.

Child Support Agency helping doctors source community support for patients

General practitioners (GPs) are in a unique position to recognise when separated parents may be going through a tough time and could benefit from specialist, non‑medical support and services.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) is helping GPs refer patients to these types of services by facilitating access to the CSA Community Service Directory. The directory includes listings for a large number of Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) service providers.

The CSA has been working closely with the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN), the national peak body representing GPs, to provide a joint message to separated parents of the importance of maintaining their well-being. The CSA and AGPN also aim to raise awareness to GPs of the issues separating families face, and the range of CSA and community support programs available to them.

In recognising that access to the Community Service Directory would greatly assist GPs, and support and refer separated parents; AGPN has added a link to the Community Service Directory to their website.

CSA is therefore encouraging all service providers to add or review their details on the Community Services Directory by visiting the Community Agencies section of www.csa.gov.au.


If you do not wish to receive the newsletter, send an email to unsubscribe to frspe-news@dss.gov.au and include the subject header
Unsubscribe to FRSP Sector e-News.

If someone you know would also like to subscribe to FRSP, have them email: frspe-news@dss.gov.au and include the subject header
Subscribe to FRSP Sector e-News.


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 13 April 2007. The next edition of FRSP Sector e-News will be disseminated to the sector on 14 May 2007.

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, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) in collaboration with the Attorney-General’s Department.

To contact the editor, please email frspe-news@dss.gov.au.

Last updated: