Edition 5 - 11 June 2007

Welcome

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

By the time the next edition comes out, 25 new Family Relationship Centres will have opened and a range of new Early Intervention Services (EIS) and Post Separating Services (PSS) will have been rolled out across Australia.  Additional EIS and PSS services to be rolled out from 2 July include:

  • 26 Family Relationship Education and Skills Training
  • 27 Men and Family Relationship Services
  • 26 Family Relationship Counselling
  • 9 Children’s Contact Services
  • 8 Parenting Order Programs

On a separate note, if you are a new subscriber of this e-newsletter, I would like to inform you this medium is a fantastic opportunity for you to reach up to 315 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders to share service delivery news or to raise any issues you consider the sector should be aware of.  I encourage you to use this e-newsletter for this purpose and welcome your contribution.

If you would like to write a story for edition six or provide feedback about articles in this edition, please email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au.

 

Regards

Robyn Fleming
Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Hot topics

Two new Post Separation Services announced in the May Budget

On 8 May 2007, the Australian Government announced funding for two new service types under the Family Relationship Services Program. They are:

  • New relationship services for children from separated families in regional Australia
  • New post separation co-operative parenting services for separated parents in high conflict in 28 regional locations

The new services for children will be established in 2008-09. This new program will help children to express themselves and deal with grief and loss issues. This will assist in reducing the risk to children's emotional health and enabling better relationships with separated parents.

The new post separation parenting services will help parents deal with issues by raising awareness of child-focused behaviours. It will operate in regional areas where it's not practical to run a full Parenting Orders Program. The education component is based on Building Connections which was piloted in northern New South Wales in 2006 and gained significant attitude changes in separated parents towards their former partner and children's need.

Commenting on radio about the initiatives recently, the Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock, said 'what we have been seeking to do now for some time is to get people to think about family issues and, if they're intent on separating, dealing with the issues in relation to children, where they're able to have a relationship. I call it children having the right to know both of their parents - and I think they do have that right - and not to be treated as an item of property over which people fight.'

'What we're looking for in relation to a program that has been now demonstrably successful, is providing a new educational support program in 28 regional locations, because people in these places don't get access to some of the programs that have been operating in our capital cities. And this is to assist separated parents in conflict that is affecting contact between parents and children,' Mr Ruddock said.

The evaluation report on Building Connections is available under Children's Contact Services, and the research report on the outcomes of child-inclusive practice is available under Dispute Resolution at http://www.ag.gov.au

The press release about the Budget measure (titled 'Helping Separated Families and their children') can be found at  http://www.ag.gov.au

The new funding will be rolled out over two years. More details of the new services, including selection processes, will be announced in due course.

Launch of Keys to Living Together

The Hon Mal Brough MP announced the release of the Keys to Living Together (KTLT) resource on 15 May, during National Families Week.

KTLT is a suite of new Family Relationship Education and Skills Training resources developed by FaCSIA that aim to strengthen families by focusing on key relationship issues. The resources are free, interactive and a fun tool for all family members to use as a step-by-step guide for dealing with personal relationships throughout their lives.

The first three DVD and mini-magazines in the series are:

  • Taking the first step. This resource is for couples who are making a significant commitment to each other such as marriage, or moving in together.
  • Instant families. This resource is for couples with children from previous relationships who are creating a new family together.
  • Then we were three. This resource is for couples who have had or are having their first child.

A comprehensive and phased distribution strategy for the KTLT has commenced and will include Members of Parliament, FRSP service providers, key stakeholders, and the public.  Each FRSP service provider and Family Relationship Centre will receive 100 copies of each of the three resources, as well as a range of promotional products for distribution to clients. 

Further KTLT products are in the first stages of development for empty nesters, young people, families with a member that has mental illness, and families with a son or daughter who has a severe disability.

To order these KTLT resources, please phone 1800 050 009 between 8.30 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Friday (except national public holidays). Alternatively, you can download these from the website at www.facsia.gov.au/keys.

Introduction of compulsory family dispute resolution - Update

The Attorney General's Department has been conducting a series of information sessions around the country to explain the legislative changes which come into effect on 1 July. The changes focus on the introduction of compulsory family dispute resolution.

The information sessions have been well attended and well received. Anyone who missed the sessions can obtain a copy of the materials provided including an information kit and a registration package (for individual practitioners) from www.ag.gov.au/fdrproviders.

Questions taken on notice at the sessions are being answered and posted to that web address.

All funded organisations approved to provide family dispute resolution should have received their registration packages and registration numbers by now. 

You are reminded to please return the registration form with the names of the practitioners authorised to provide family dispute resolution on the organisation's behalf, within 28 days of receipt of the package.  Those individuals are also required to complete their own 'individual' registration form.

Please direct any queries about the registration process or receipt of the registration package to the Practitioner Support Unit on 1800 025 255 or by email at fdrregistration@ag.gov.au.

The 2007 FECCA Congress in Hobart, Tasmania on 30 and 31 July

On 30 and 31 July, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) is holding a 2007 FECCA Congress at the Wrest Point Resort in Hobart, Tasmania.  The theme of the Congress will revolve around the concepts of EMPOWERMENT and INCLUSION. 

FECCA is a national peak body that promotes multiculturalism, community harmony and social justice.  It is involved in community education, advocacy for equitable access to services and information for Australians from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as human and cultural rights.  The organisation categorically rejects racism and discrimination on any grounds and it works in strategic partnerships with other organisations to build an inclusive, diverse, accepting and prosperous 21st century Australian society.

FECCA is currently inviting proposals to present papers at 30 minute sessions (15 minute presentations and time for questions or discussion). These presentations may outline relevant initiatives or experiences, be academic research papers, be historical or real-world in nature, but must address one of the three streams of the Congress outlined below.

1. Using today to shape tomorrow

It is commonly held that in order for a society to remain competitive, vibrant and relevant, significant emphasis and policy must be devoted to the preservation of its past and setting solid foundations in the present with a view to its future. This stream will explore issues relating to youth, children, education and training, arts and sport, culture and heritage, the environment, sustainability, health and ageing.

2. Empowerment and inclusion

The goal of a diverse society should be, through easily accessible and equitable distribution of resources, to empower and include as many sections of the community in order for them to participate in decision making, the greater Australian community and to fully embrace society and life in general. We are keen to explore the concepts of empowerment and inclusion in Australia with regards to issues facing women, regional communities, people with disabilities, the concept of universal human rights, new and emerging communities, employment, racism and discrimination, business, trade, politics and the wider issues of access and equity.

3. Australia as part of the global village

Australia’s successful and unique diversity is well known. As we make our way forward in a rapidly changing and diversifying world, opinion swings between bunkering down and engagement, between unity and diversity. In this stream, the Congress will explore the issues of multiculturalism and diversity, cross cultural and interfaith issues, Australia’s role on the international stage, immigration and citizenship, refugee and humanitarian issues, the role of the media and the concept of Australian values.

The Congress will be an informative, productive and engaging one and FECCA certainly hopes to see you there.

FRSP News

Family Relationship Service brochures

The Family Relationship Services Post Separation Service (PSS) brochures produced by the Attorney-General's Department are proving very successful.

The brochures provide information about:

  • Family Relationship Centres
  • Family Relationship Advice Line
  • Family Relationships Online
  • Parenting after separation
  • Children's Contact Services
  • Family Counselling
  • Family Dispute Resolution; and
  • Compulsory Dispute Resolution.

A dedicated number has now been established for direct ordering of the PSS products. Please telephone 1800 114 393 if re-ordering these PSS brochures.

To complement these brochures, a suite of Early Intervention Service (EIS) brochures are currently being developed and will be mailed out soon.  These brochures 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.

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

Quality-assured parenting information website

The Raising Children website at raisingchildren.net.au provides research-based and quality-assured parenting information on over 800 topics covering all the essentials of child health and development and family well-being.

With an emphasis on practicality and reliability, the website caters to users of different backgrounds and abilities, presenting information in a range of text, graphic and interactive formats.

The Raising Children website was designed with both parents and professional users in mind. Professionals working closely with families of children aged 0-8 can access a wide range of downloads, tip-sheets and resources to help them support parents in their care-giving role. These resources can be used with the assurance that each article has been reviewed by at least two independent experts.

To view the website, go to http://raisingchildren.net.au.

Family Relationship Services Australia

The Inaugural Board of Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) is progressing well in becoming established and operational, and are now calling for new members.

Joining FRSA will enable you to participate in FRSA’s establishment and decision-making processes, with the election of the new Board of Directors in July being the first which members can take part in. 

The new Board will be formally announced at the Second Biennial Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Conference to be held on 1-2 August.  Those who wish to participate in the election process are encouraged to return their Membership Application Forms in June.

The May edition of FRSP Sector e-News reported the outcomes of a consultation paper circulated to the sector in April.  The consultation paper proposed a membership structure, governance structure and membership fee structure.  Responses to the paper indicated the sector’s support for these proposed structures and FRSA is now in the process of amending the Constitution to implement the membership and governance structure outlined in that paper.

In anticipation of FRSA soon becoming operational, a recruitment process is now underway to appoint an Executive Director for FRSA.  Work is also being done to physically establish the secretariat in Canberra.

If you would like a copy of the FRSA Consultation Paper or Membership Application Form, please contact admin@frsa.org.au

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

Father Inclusive Practice Pilot

The FIP project is piloting a model to assist the Family Relationship Service Program funded organisations to better engage and meet the needs of fathers in their communities. 

Key practitioners and participating organisations for the Father Inclusive Practice Pilot (FIP) have been selected.  Details of the successful organisations participating in the project will be provided in the next Newsletter. 

An initial meeting of key practitioners and the project consultant occurred in early May 2007 and a Good Practice Guide is being developed to support the project. 

It is anticipated that the resulting practical resources and learning will be broadly available across the sector upon completion of the pilot in June 2008

FRSP Online update

The FRSP Online Support Centre has been undergoing some recruitment over the past two months, and has attracted a number of experienced Support Centre staff.  The new members have been trained in the operation of FRSP Online and will strive to offer the highest level of support services possible to all FRSP Online users.

The Privacy Impact Assessment draft report is expected in the first week of June.  Once FaCSIA has had an opportunity to review the report, it will be circulated to the sector for broader discussion. 

The Support Team is working on updating all of the data entry forms, so they correspond to the options available within FRSP Online. The Attorney-General’s Department has requested some additional options to some of the current questions and some wording changes due to the implementation of the compulsory dispute resolution changes.  These forms will be distributed mid-June, for commencement on 1 July

For those organisations that have been approved to use 4DISCS or CIS as an alternate data entry system to FRSP Online, certification of these applications should be completed within the next month.  Once certification is complete, the functionality will be switched on in FRSP Online which will allow these applications to directly transfer data to FRSP Online.

Should any organisation have concerns or questions about FRSP Online or require training, they should contact the FRSP Online Support Centre on 1300 137 305 or send an email to frsponline@facsia.gov.au.

Family Relationship Centre Orientation Training

This training is designed to orient staff of the Family Relationship Centres to their new working environment.  The training will highlight issues staff may encounter in the context of the new family law system, with a particular focus on the best interests of children.

The orientation training is for staff involved in client service delivery for the 25 new Family Relationship Centres scheduled to begin operation on 2 July. 

The program will cover all relevant subject areas necessary for the efficient running of the centres.  These will include but are not limited to:

  • background, objectives, and principles of the family law reforms and the role of the Centres and Advice Line in relation to these changes operational requirements for Centres
  • information from existing providers about their experience in the various activities undertaken within Centres
  • changes to family law
  • the place of Family Relationship Centres within the Family Relationship Services Program and their relationship with the Family Relationship Advice Line and other key agencies, such as Centrelink and the Child Support Agency
  • Family Relationships Online and other related IT training; and
  • research and evaluation.

Questions regarding the Orientation Training for Family Relationship Centres should be directed to Naveed Ali on (02) 6234 4937 or via email at naveed.ali@ag.gov.au.

Introduction of compulsory family dispute resolution - Update

The Attorney General's Department has been conducting a series of information sessions around the country to explain the legislative changes which come into effect on 1 July. The changes focus on the introduction of compulsory family dispute resolution.

The information sessions have been well attended and well received. Anyone who missed the sessions can obtain a copy of the materials provided including an information kit and a registration package (for individual practitioners) from www.ag.gov.au/fdrproviders.

Questions taken on notice at the sessions are being answered and posted to that web address.

All funded organisations approved to provide family dispute resolution should have received their registration packages and registration numbers by now. 

You are reminded to please return the registration form with the names of the practitioners authorised to provide family dispute resolution on the organisation's behalf, within 28 days of receipt of the package.  Those individuals are also required to complete their own 'individual' registration form.

Please direct any queries about the registration process or receipt of the registration package to the Practitioner Support Unit on 1800 025 255 or by email at fdrregistration@ag.gov.au.

Family Mental Health Support Services

The FMHSS initiative is establishing seven demonstration sites around Australian to provide support for families impacted by mental health issues, and undertake related community development activities.

Preferred providers have been selected to deliver the seven Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) and the Family Relationship Service Program State and Territory Office network is finalising funding agreement negotiations. 

A formal announcement of the selection process outcomes is anticipated for June 2007. 

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

Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council - competency standards

The Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CSHISC) was funded to develop national competency based standards and a suite of qualifications for the Family Relationship workforce.  The development of the Family Relationship qualifications occurs within the context of workforce development in response to the introduction of significant reforms to the family law system, part of which will have a considerable impact on the Family Relationship workforce including the development of new service models and expanded services.

The qualifications include:

  • Certificate IV in Children’s Contact Services
  • Diploma of Children’s Contact Services
  • Diploma of Family Intake and Support Work
  • Vocational Graduate Diploma in Relationship Education
  • Vocational Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution
  • Certificate IV in Relationship Education
  • Diploma of Relationship Education

On 31 May 2007 CSHISC participated in a Department of Education, Science and Training facilitated teleconference where state and territory representatives from the state and territory training authorities considered the draft qualifications and materials.  The outcome of this teleconference was recommendations for some minor edits which will be made prior to submitting the qualifications to the National Quality Council for approval to forward to the Training Ministers for endorsement.  The qualifications are expected to be endorsed in July 2007.

CSHISC will now implement the qualifications, including development of a recognition process for practitioners who may already meet the competency requirements and national implementation workshops to inform employees, employers, training providers and workplace assessors.  Implementation workshops will be held in all Australian capital cities from 19 June to 10 August 2007.  Limited funding is available to assist with the travel of rural and remote practitioners wanting to attend the implementation workshops, please contact CSHISC on 02 9263 3590 for further information.

For more information on the competency standards project, go to www.cshisc.com.au or email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au.

Sector Updates

Sudanese men's group

Under the Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants (FRSHE) initiative, Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) organisations provide family relationship services to families who arrive in Australia through the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Program. 

FRSHE services seek to respond to the pressures that undermine family stability for humanitarian entrant families.  A lack of information and life skills within the context of Australian society, the loss of traditional family support structures and changing expectations in a new cultural setting all place immense pressure on families that have been traumatised by experience in their countries of origin.

The Migrant Information Centre (MIC), Eastern Melbourne, works in partnership with South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre to provide FRSHE services in Eastern Melbourne, Dandenong and South Eastern outer Melbourne.  One of the services delivered by MIC is the Sudanese Men’s Group.  MIC has agreed to share a report on the operation of this service, which is an interesting case study of an organisation using culturally appropriate methods to reach a specific target group.

The new Child Support Scheme - a better balance for separated families

A national multi media advertising campaign commences in late May to advise separated parents that the Child Support Scheme is changing in July 2008 and that the Child Support Agency (CSA) needs to get in touch with all affected parents.

To ensure all customers receive important information from CSA relating to the new scheme, the CSA is urging customers who have not updated their contact details for some time, to contact CSA as soon as possible.

The campaign, The new Child Support Scheme – A better balance for separated families, which features the colourful ‘Balance Family’, combines press, radio and online advertising, a campaign website and direct mail to CSA customers.

It seeks to ensure Australia’s 1.4 million separated parents are aware that changes are coming and without updated contact details, CSA will not be able to ensure their new child support assessment under the Scheme will be accurate.

It also highlights that the changes will affect most separated parents registered with CSA, even those who transfer child support privately.

The new Scheme will start in July 2008 and all child support payments will need to be re-assessed by the CSA. CSA will be writing to all customers, including parents who privately transfer payments, to collect newly required care data later this year so their new assessment can be generated. 

The new formula will better reflect the costs of raising children today and take account of the fact that older children cost more, treat both parents’ incomes and living costs more equally, and make sure that children from first and second families are treated more equally.

To make sure assessments are correct and parents receive the family assistance they’re entitled to, CSA needs parents’ up-to-date contact details now.

CSA is making it easier for parents to update their details with the CSAonline service that lets parents contact us and get information anytime. Parents can enrol for CSAonline through the CSA website www.csa.gov.au.  Parents can also update their details by calling CSA on 131 272.

CSA is also planning to hold Child Support Scheme reforms information sessions for a range of stakeholders including service providers prior to the introduction of the changes on 1 July 2008. 

For more information about the Child Support Scheme reforms, go to www.australia.gov.au/csa.

From advocacy to policy - communities driving change

As national conversation about community priorities continues to evolve, leaders of the nation's community groups will come together with local, state and federal government officials and business leaders for the Communities in Control Conference 2007.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘From advocacy to policy - communities driving change’.  The conference will focus on the need for community organisations to become central to the search for policy solutions.

The conference will include keynote presentations from a number of influential speakers including the Hon Justice Michael Kirby, Eva Cox, Sam Lipski and the Hon Mal Brough. There will also be a performance by musician Paul Kelly.

The Communities in Control Conference is being held by the community organisation www.ourcommunity.com.au at Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. The conference will be held on Monday and Tuesday 4 to 5 June and will include a pre-conference skills day on marketing, media and advocacy (Sunday, 3 June), and a forum on ‘youth in communities’ (9.30 am to midday, Wednesday 6 June).

For further information on the conference please go to www.ourcommunity.com.au/cic2007.

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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, 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 15 June 2007. The next edition of FRSP Sector e-News will be released on 9 July 2007.

To provide feedback and/or to send topics of interest, email frspe-news@facsia.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@facsia.gov.au.

Content Updated: 20 April 2012