Edition 8 - 10 September 2007


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

The e-newsletter continues to be a great success, attracting 106 new subscriptions since it was first introduced in February this year.  However, recent feedbacks from the FRSP Conference revealed only 42 per cent of participants were aware of the e-newsletter.  This information supports past feedback that while the e-newsletter is sent to all FRSP service providers, not all practitioners are receiving the newsletter.

To ensure everyone has the opportunity to be kept informed of program developments that affect their practice and business opportunities, I encourage you to circulate this e-newsletter to all your staff and industry colleagues.

Please inform your colleagues this e-newsletter is an ideal opportunity to reach 433 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders and share service delivery news, research findings and other topics of interest.

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


Robyn Fleming
Branch Manager
Family Relationship Services Branch

Hot topics

FRSP Online Update

A release is scheduled for the end of September, which will mainly contain changes to functionality available to the FRSP Online Administrator and FRSP Online Support Team only. 

These changes include:

  • start and end dates on all reference elements
  • start and end dates for all professionals at the organisation level
  • ability for the FRSP Online Administrator to suspend an organisation
  • forcing of funding year being selected before project outputs can be entered.

The functionality that service providers will see is:

  • fees charged per person and reason no fee charged will not be able to be entered if the session did not occur
  • client outcome screen will not be available unless a registered client has been recorded as attending a session.

If you have any questions in relation to the update, contact the FRSP Online Support Team on 1300 137 305 or frsponline@facsia.gov.au

Drought Counselling Initiative

The Drought Counselling Initiative represents one of a broad suite of measures implemented by the Australian Government to assist farming families and rural communities affected by drought.

The Drought Counselling initiative aims to improve access to personal and family counselling services for individuals and families in drought affected regions by increasing counselling capacity in Exceptional Circumstances (EC) declared areas. 

Funding is provided to Family Relationship Service Providers to deliver services in the EC declared areas where FRSP service providers are available to deliver services and to Centrelink to deliver services in EC declared areas where there are no FRSP service providers available to deliver services.  These initiatives allow clients to access free of charge services that would otherwise attract a fee.

In 2005, FaCSIA undertook a complex needs analysis to determine which areas Drought Counselling funds should be spent.  This analysis took into account a number of factors including drought declared status, remoteness and socio-economic disadvantage.  Following the needs analysis, the FaCSIA decided on a service delivery model which included selecting appropriate providers and liaising with Centrelink.  This needs analysis along with other data informed the 2006-07 and 2007-08 allocations.

Over the last three years FaCSIA funded Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA) to undertake two evaluations of the Drought Counselling initiative. 

  • The first evaluation examined the effectiveness of promotional activities to raise community awareness of drought counselling assistance.  The report from that evaluation was received in May 2006 and is available on the Family Relationship Service Program webpage.  Recommendations from that evaluation assisted FRSP policy development.
  • The second AHA evaluation was a broader study of the effectiveness of the Drought and Sugar Counselling initiatives.  FaCSIA received the Final Evaluation Report of this evaluation in July 2007 and is currently considering its recommendations. 

It is anticipated that the Final Evaluation Report will be available through the FaCSIA website in the near future.  The evaluation found that, overall, the drought counselling initiative was effective, particularly in terms of a tangible increase in counselling capacity and a significant improvement in accessibility to services.  The effectiveness of the drought counselling initiative is due largely to the quality of the services delivered by the FRSP service providers involved.

On 24 October 2006, the Government announced a further $2.1 million to extend FRSP Drought Counselling to the 2007-08 financial year. 

In July 2007 Minister Mal Brough approved a proposed allocation for that funding.  To ensure continuity in the provision of counselling services to drought affected areas, the allocation for 2007-08 replicates the 2006-07 allocation as closely as possible. 

FaCSIA’s State and Territory Offices will be in contact with affected providers during August and September to make arrangements to distribute the drought counselling funding.

FRSP Conference Evaluation Survey results: The FRSP Conference a Success

Thank you to all the participants at this year’s FRSP Conference!  A total of 500 delegates were in attendance.  Conference evaluation surveys were returned by 164 delegates.

The conference successfully achieved its objectives and participants provided predominantly positive feedback.

For those of you who completed the survey, your input has been invaluable.  The survey results will assist in developing future sector conferences.

Key survey results found that:

  • the conference achieved its objectives to:
    • celebrate the sector’s achievements
    • address challenges that lie ahead for service provision
    • provide the sector with an opportunity to give and receive feedback
    • promote networking amongst stakeholders from across Australia
  • 80 per cent of respondents rated the registration process as above average to excellent, with a significant number indicating they did not personally organise their registration
  • workshops were well attended; and 84 per cent generally agreed or definitely agreed workshop content was relevant, however, qualitative results indicated the workshops would benefit from being longer, more in-depth and solution-focused.  A limit on the number of workshops would help to focus on critical issues facing FRSP providers
  • 79 per cent rated the exhibition, overall, as good or excellent (equivalent 4 to 5 out of 5)
  • email or e-Newsletter were overwhelmingly the preferred method of contact (total 86 per cent)

Overall, the conference was regarded as a success with over 79 per cent of participants rating the conference overall as good or excellent (equivalent to 4 to 5 of a possible score of 5).

The conference report is still in development. Updates and future developments will be provided when they become available.

For more information, email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au quoting FRSP Conference Evaluation Survey results: The FRSP Conference a Success! – Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

Expansion of Family Pathways Networks

The Attorney-General recently approved funding to support a further seven Family Pathway Networks.  The networks are located in Albury/Wodonga, Launceston, NSW South Coast, NSW Central West, Coffs Harbour, Gosford and Melbourne and will each receive $33,000 in 2007-08 to support them in their activities.

These networks are in addition to the current 10 networks in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Darwin, Canberra, Hobart, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney and Wollongong.

Networks contribute to developing a more integrated family law system.  For example, Networks assist members and their staff to make more collaborative referrals and hold regular meetings and information exchanges to keep their local community up to date with their services and recent developments.  Networks also hold a range of forums that have been integral to the success of distributing information on the family law reforms and promoting discussion on the impact of these to the wider community.

Network members can come from non-government organisations providing services to separated families, legal practitioners specialising in family law, along with representatives from state and Australian Government bodies such as the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Magistrates Court, the Child Support Agency and Centrelink.

Family Pathways Networks, including location, membership and activities, are driven by the local community of service providers. If you would like more information on how networks operate or contact details for the nearest network to you, please email pathwaysnetworks@ag.gov.au.   We would also be interested in hearing from new networks not currently receiving funding.

Launch of Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dads, Uncles and Pop

The Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dads, Uncles and Pops program was officially launched by Robyn Fleming on the 22 August 2007. 

Funded by FRSP under the Men and Family Relationships Initiative, the resource was developed by Centacare Broken Bay and is the outcome of a collaborative partnership with Centacare New England Tamworth, New England Institution of TAFE Tamworth, The Yaamanhaa Men’s Group Tamworth and the Aboriginal Training Unit Corrective Services NSW. Representatives of these organisations, Larry Trudgett of the NSW Department of Community Services and consultants Bula Ngumbaay Pty Ltd were on the project team.

Hey Dad! is an innovative, strengths-based, early intervention parenting program for men. Its foundations are in a strengths-based and community capacity building model. The purpose of each group is for the men to build individual and community skills in being a more effective and involved dad, uncle or pop. The program is built on the premise that more confident and effective fathers are essential for healthy and secure Aboriginal children, families and communities.

A trial of the program was delivered in five locations, including Tamworth, the Central Coast, Lithgow and Cessnock Correctional Centres and the Parklea Remand Centre, with a total of 56 Indigenous men participating.

An independent evaluation completed by Dianne Beatty, Alt Beatty Consulting, noted the program was well received by Indigenous communities and the sector.  It stated the response of Indigenous men was “overwhelmingly” “very positive.

For more information, email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au quoting Launch of Hey Dad! For Indigenous Dads, Uncles and Pops – Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

New Guideline for Family Law Courts and Children’s Contact Service

The Attorney-General’s Department has recently published a new guideline to assist Family Law Courts and Children’s Contact Services in their work with families ordered to use a Children's Contact Service for supervised visits or changeovers.

A Guideline for Family Law Courts and Children’s Contact Services provides a clear and concise overview of Children’s Contact Services to assist courts in making appropriate referrals, which also take into account the need for families to eventually self-manage parenting responsibilities.

The guideline provides information in three parts: factors to be taken into account by the court when referring families to a Children's Contact Service; matters to be considered during a family’s involvement with a Children's Contact Service; and moving to self-management.

The guideline includes practical suggestions for the Family Law Courts and Children’s Contact Services when dealing with issues that commonly arise during a family’s use of a Children's Contact Service.  The guideline also includes model orders for supervised visits and changeover, which will assist judicial officers, lawyers and parents to ensure appropriate orders are made.

Similarly, Children’s Contact Services will be able to draw on the guideline as a reference point for matters they should consider when working with the Family Courts during a family’s involvement with their service.

The Attorney-General's Department would like to thank the members of the working group who helped put together the information contained in the guideline.

A Guideline for Family Law Courts and Children’s Contact Services can be found on the following websites:

Copies of the Guideline will also be distributed to Children's Contact Services, courts and family lawyers in October.


Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution Workshop

The Attorney-General’s Department is offering staff of Family Relationship Centres and other Family Relationship Service Program organisations the opportunity to attend a four-day Core Skills Workshop in Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution practice awareness, developed by Dr Jennifer McIntosh.

The workshop focuses on the evidence-based principles behind this particular approach.  Participants will be introduced to the core clinical thinking and practices of parent and child work.*

Those who identify as child consultants, dispute resolution practitioners and others who need to understand child inclusive practice principles in family dispute resolution, such as managers and other clinical staff, are encouraged to attend.

The workshops will be held in:

  • Perth - 18-21 September 2007 (open to WA, NT and SA participants only)
  • Brisbane - 23-26 October 2007 (open to QLD participants only)
  • Sydney - 3-6 December 2007 (open to NSW and ACT participants only)
  • Melbourne - 19-22 February 2008 (open to VIC, SA and TAS participants only).

Details including the workshop outline and registration forms will be emailed to organisations two months prior to each event.  Places are strictly limited and pre-registrations will not be accepted. 

For more information, email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au quoting Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution Workshops – Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

* Please note that participation in this four-day program is not of itself sufficient input for clinicians to become qualified as a Child Consultant.  Prior tertiary training in developmental psychology, counselling or child psychotherapy, and substantial supervised experience in working therapeutically with children is required for those contemplating the role of Child Consultant.  Those without prior and adequate developmental experience should not consider this aspect of the work.

Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) – registered conferences and event

Invitation to Participate in Review of the AFRC

In addition to the FRSP conference and workshop invitations mentioned above, don’t forget to refer to the Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse website for other Australian and International conferences, seminars and events supporting family relationship service providers and practitioners.

Thanks to all those who provided contact details on the FRSP conference evaluation form for the evaluation of the AFRC.  If your organisation was not able to provide this information for any reason at the conference, please provide us with the contact details of someone in your organisation best placed to give feedback on the usefulness of the Clearinghouse. 

Please email a name, employing organisation, telephone / fax number and email address to afrc@aifs.gov.au by 21 September 2007.  The evaluation will commence early October 2007.  The feedback you provide will be important in deciding how the Clearinghouse will operate in the future and what services it will provide.

Please also send a brief description of any research your organisation is currently undertaking.  This will assist with the broader evaluation of the new family law system and the AFRC in the identification of research of interest to others.

Upcoming Survey of Research Activities in the FRSP Sector

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is undertaking research into the impact of the new family law system reforms.  As part of this, AIFS are interested in collecting information on current research activities being undertaken by FRSP providers.

Your input will assist AIFS in this process, such as to help inform the government’s decisions regarding the ongoing development of the new family law system. 

Further information will be provided in the next newsletter.

Update on Family Relationship Services Australia

The new Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) Board convened for the first time by teleconference on 15 August and will meet again in Canberra, mid October.  The option to expand the Boards’ capacity, through two additional appointments, is being considered along with a process to establish robust consultation mechanisms to identify strategic priorities.

The FRSA membership has continued to grow.  There are now 102 Full Members and another 11 Associate Members.  The secretariat is taking shape with a recruitment process underway to appoint two additional staff members.  The logo, stationary and website are also under development. 

FRSA is keen to build a more in-depth profile of member organisations and to consult on potential member services, but understand that this must wait until the closure in October of applications under the current FRSP selection process.  In the interim, FRSA is responding to queries and issues raised by members, which to date have included subcontracting, performance reporting and contract management.   FRSA welcomes requests from both service providers and government stakeholders to undertake consultation with the sector, which will inform policy and service delivery, through constructive dialogue and collaboration.

For more information, telephone 02 6162 1811 or email admin@frsa.com.au quoting Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) – registered conferences and events – Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

Update on the evaluation of the new family law system

The evaluation of the family law reform package is now underway.

In 2006 the Australian Government commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) to undertake the evaluation and associated longitudinal research.

As part of this evaluation, AIFS will be carrying out the following activities between now and the end of this year:

  • interviews with selected managers of Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) services
  • focus groups with selected FRSP staff
  • an online survey of all staff working for Family Relationship Centre, Early Intervention Services and Post Separation Services.

These activities aim to identify the strengths of the reforms, challenges experienced by service providers and areas requiring further improvement.  It is the system as a whole that is being evaluated, not individual services.  In addition, the first client surveys are scheduled to take place in early 2008.

The Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) recently wrote to FRSP service provider organisations outlining the above evaluation activities and advising organisations that they may be contacted by AIFS to participate.  AIFS is now in the process of contacting selected organisations to request their participation in these activities and schedule interviews and focus groups with staff.

AGD and FaCSIA encourage your active participation in these activities as this will provide valuable insight into the impact of the reforms on service provision and outcomes for Australian families.

The Framework for the Evaluation of the Family Law Reform Package is available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

If you have any questions about the evaluation of the reform package, email agdfrsp@ag.gov.au quoting Update on the evaluation of the new family law system - Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

Report on Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants Provider Forum - April 2007

The second Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants (FRSHE) Provider Forum was held over two days in Melbourne, with a series of discussions and activities focused on the current challenges for pilot sites, lessons to date and the upcoming end-point to the overall evaluation.

The forum report - PDF [94kb] captures the results of small group work as well as broader discussion and facilitator presentations.

An evaluation of FRSHE is currently being conducted and once finalised, an evaluation report will be made available in October/November 2007.

Project Officer for the Australian Children's Contact Services Association

The Australian Children's Contact Services Association (ACCSA) will shortly be engaging a Project Officer to undertake a range of projects over a 12 month period.

ACCSA is an incorporated entity whose objectives include the provision of a forum for members, the establishment of networking opportunities, the dissemination of relevant information, the delivery of advice and feedback to funding bodies, and the development and promotion of industry standards and protocols.

Currently ACCSA depends on volunteers in the sector to achieve these objectives.  These volunteers, along with their individual organisations, often provide unpaid or very limited paid time to support the broader Children’s Contact Services (CCS) sector community.

The ability of these volunteers to effectively implement the objectives of ACCSA is affected by the day to day operational and administrative pressures experienced by CCS staff, hence an ACCSA Project Worker will be able to assist the organisation to further its aims and provide more support to the Children's Contact Services sector.

Some of the proposed projects the Project Officer will work on include:

  • updating the Rules of Association and Terms of Reference
  • a revision of the draft ACCSA Standards and subsequent ratification
  • upgrading of the website
  • the development of a database of all funded and non-funded Children's Contact Services in Australia
  • a membership drive
  • the production and distribution of quarterly newsletters
  • the development of a strategic plan and
  • the organisation and implementation of one or more training forums.

The Attorney-General’s Department supports ACCSA in its aims to promote sound practice, identify minimum standards and disseminate information, and has provided funding for this project.

For more information, email agdfrsp@ag.gov.au quoting Project Officer for the Australian Children's Contact Services Association - Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

Family Relationship Advice Line – 12 months of operation

The Family Relationship Advice Line (the Advice Line), which commenced in July last year, has been successfully operating over the past 12 months, having answered over 100,000 calls up to 30 June 2007.

The Advice Line is part of the wider support network for families, which includes the new Family Relationship Centres and other services under the Family Relationship Services Program.  Referrals are a key component of the service provided by the Advice Line as it tries to get families connected to the most appropriate service(s) that meets their needs.  In particular, the Advice Line uses information available through Family Relationships Online to refer callers to services that can assist them in their local areas.

The Advice Line is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday (excluding all national public holidays).  These times reflect local times for all callers in all states and territories across Australia.  Given its extended hours of operation, the Advice Line can be a valuable resource for individuals when other services might be closed and they need some quick or urgent information or advice.  Brochures which set out the role of the Advice Line are available at the Family Relationships Online website or in hard copy by calling 1800 114 393 and requesting brochure FPB002.

Data collected shows that over the past 12 months of operation, 58 per cent of callers were female while 42 per cent of callers were male.  The majority of callers were parents (87 per cent) and 7 per cent of callers were grandparents.  The minority of callers were children under the age of 18 (0.5 per cent).  The data also indicated that whilst most of the callers were separated (90 per cent), 5 per cent of callers were considering separation, 5 per cent of callers were from intact families and 2 per cent of callers identified as Aboriginal or Torres Trait Islander.

Overall, the Advice Line has been well received by people who have called, with many commenting that the Advice Line has been ‘fantastic’, ‘very helpful’ and has ‘made a huge effort’ to assist callers.

Sector Updates

Reminder - Marriage and Relationship Educators’ National Conference (MARENC) 2007

The Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs is proud to sponsor MARENC 2007 to be held 20-22 September in Fremantle, Western Australia.

MARENC has proved to be a valuable resource for marriage and relationship educators through:

  • opportunities for delegates to be updated with developments in the field of relationship education, such as the roll-out of the Family Relationship Centres and the new qualifications framework
  • workshops, which provide practical ideas and examples of best practice
  • networking with other professionals, particularly for educators who work in isolation
  • opportunities to meet government personnel who fund relationship services.

The theme for this year’s MARENC is ‘creating harmony’. Healthy relationships are all about harmony.  Marriage educators around the globe are involved in the important task of ‘creating harmony’: harmony within self, harmony in relationships, harmony in community and harmony in the world. Each day the conference will focus on the different harmony themes.

There will be opportunity to enrol in both pre and post conference workshops:

Pre Conference Workshop:
Working With Men
Workshop with Andrew King
Wednesday 19 September 2007
Cost: $165.00

Post Conference Workshop:
Survival Skills For Healthy Families
Four-day Family Wellness Instructor Training with George Doub
Monday 24 – Thursday 27 September 2007
Cost: $825.00 ($770.00 early bird if paid in full by 13 July 2007)

You can now download the application form for MARENC 2007 and the pre and post conference workshops from the Catholic Society for Marriage Education website.

For more information, email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au quoting MARENC – Edition 8 in the subject line of the email.

Years 11-12 Education Resource Pack: Identifying and Avoiding Abusive and Violent Relationships

The Violence Against Women. Australia Says NO campaign is an Australian Government initiative aimed at preventing, reducing and responding to domestic and family violence and sexual assault. 

The campaign includes an education resource targeted at year 11 and 12 students.  Its aim is to encourage young Australians to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid being exposed to abusive behaviour. Primarily it is a preventative education tool for teachers to communicate directly with young people about the early warning signs that can lead to physical violence and sexual assault in relationships.

The subject matter covers complex and often sensitive areas of human behaviour. At its centre is a compelling documentary about a young girl, Angela Barker, who was severely beaten by her boyfriend.  Angela’s story is supported by lesson plans and teaching aids.

The Education Resource Pack contains:

  • A CD-ROM for use in the classroom, including state/territory learning outcomes, teacher lesson plans, student classroom and extension activities, reference and resource information
  • Loves Me, Loves Me Not DVD
  • Violence Against Women. Australia Says NO booklet
  • Violence Against Women. Australia Says NO posters

A copy of the Education Resource Pack is available to order from the Violence Against Women. Australia Says NO website or by contacting the Office for Women on 1800 808 863 or women@facsia.gov.au.

Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin update

Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin

The Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin is a great resource for information about the further reforms to be implemented from 1 July 2008. The eBulletin will highlight different aspects of the new Child Support Scheme and will help keep you up to date with particular issues that separated parents are concerned with regarding child support and the reforms.

Below is a link to the latest editions of the eBulletins. If you would like to receive regular editions of the eBulletin, you can add your details to the Child Support Agency's Community Services Directory and be kept up to date with the latest news about the child support scheme reforms.


If you do not wish to receive the newsletter, send an email to unsubscribe to frspe-news@facsia.gov.au and include the subject header
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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 14 September. The next edition of FRSP Sector e-News will be released on 8 October.

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.

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