Edition 9 - 8 October 2007


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

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

For new subscribers, FRSP Sector e-News is an ideal opportunity for you to reach 445 FRSP service providers and industry stakeholders to share service delivery news or to raise any issues you think the sector should be aware of. 

To contribute to the next edition’s news 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

Helping children with autism package

The Australian Government is aware of the impact of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) on children, their families and carers.

In light of this, the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, announced on 3 October 2007 a $190 million package, Helping children with autism, designed to help children with ASD, their families and carers. The package seeks to provide earlier and more accurate diagnosis of children with ASD; increased access to early intervention programs for children aged 0-6 years with ASD; as well as further support services for children up to 12 years of age.

The package contains a number of FaCSIA initiatives, including:

  • $30.1 million over five years to fund service providers to develop and deliver education and support programs to families and carers of children with ASD up to six years of age. 
  • $17.4 million over five years for 20 Childhood Autism Advisers (CAAs) located in various areas across Australia, to provide a gateway to services for up to 15,000 children under six years of age with ASD and their families and carers.
  • $34.8 million over five years to establish playgroups for up to 8,000 children a year in a range of locations, for children up to six years of age with ASD.   
  • $36 million over five years to fund service providers to deliver approved early intervention programs.  These services will support children with ASD up to six years of age who require more structured and intensive early intervention than playgroups can offer, for up to two years.  
  • $27.9 million over five years to facilitate access to intensive early intervention services for children with ASD up to six years of age with the most profound needs.  Eligible families and carers supporting children with profound needs will be able to apply for up to $20,000 over two years which will contribute to costs incurred through accessing approved intensive early intervention services. 

More information about this package can be obtained by calling the Helping children with autism Inquiry Line on 1800 289 177 and TTY 1800 260 402 or go to the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website. 

New Funding for Drought Response

The Prime Minister recently announced an expanded package of assistance to families and communities affected by drought – see Australian Government Strengthens Drought Support.

Within this package, FRSP has obtained an additional $11 million in funding for 25 Drought Response Teams in Exceptional Circumstances declared areas.

Under this measure, high quality counselling and support services will be delivered by FRSP funded community based organisations to individuals, families and communities.  This measure will feature early intervention, crisis intervention and community capacity building projects to respond to individuals and families affected by the drought. 

Services will be available across Australia with coverage in regional and rural areas.  The measure will commence 1 December 2007 and continue until 30 June 2009.

FRSP Online Update

A release took place on 28 September with minor changes to the system functionality.

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,
  • enforcing the funding year be selected before project outputs can be entered.

Service providers will notice the following changes:

  • New web services functionality has been built to allow third party software to communicate with FRSP Online in real time. This allows service providers using 4DISCS application to enter data only once without the need of duplicate data entry into FRSP Online. With testing of 4DISCS transfer process nearly complete, web services have been activated on the production server. Final configuration settings for 4DISCS will be available after this release by contacting the FRSP Online helpdesk on 1300 137 305 or by email frsponline@facsia.gov.au
  • Fees charged per person and the reason no fee has been charged will not be able to be entered if the session did not occur.
  • The Client Outcome screen will not be available unless a registered client has been recorded as attending a session.
  • A session cannot be created until a professional is attached to the activity.
  • The last professional attached to an activity cannot be detached from the activity if any sessions have occurred.

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


Endorsement of the Industry Skills Council Competency Standards

The national Relationship Education qualifications developed by the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (ISC) were endorsed by the National Quality Council (NQC) on 9 September.

The qualifications have now been forwarded to the Ministers for sign off. The qualifications will be added to the Community Services Training Package (CHC02) volume three following a publication period and will be available for purchase through the ISC or via the National Training Information Service website.   

Registered Training Organisations (RTO) wanting to apply to have the new qualifications added to their scope of practice need to contact their State Training Authority (STA). Once the qualifications have been added to the RTO's scope of practice, they will be available for practitioners to undertake through a recognition assessment pathway or through a training and assessment pathway. 

For more information, go to The Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council or email frspe-news@facsia.gov.au

Request for Tender - Independent Assessment of Compliance by FRSP funded organisations

The Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) is in the final stages of engaging a suitably qualified Contractor to undertake an independent assessment of compliance by funded organisations with the Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) Approval Requirements.

The decision to conduct an independent assessment at this time was prompted by a need to ensure that all existing funded organisations comply with the Approval Requirements, a set of minimum standards for FRSP funded organisations.

Independent assessments will be phased over a two and a half year period and are to be completed by 30 June 2010. 

Although the overall timetable for independently assessing each funded organisation will be negotiated between FaCSIA and the successful Tenderer, initial priorities will be:

  • organisations whose Funding Agreements are due to expire on 30 June 2008, and
  • service types incorporated within 2006-09 Funding Agreements that are due to expire on 30 June 2008.

As the schedule of visits is developed, FaCSIA will contact individual service providers.

Throughout the independent assessment process, the Contractor and/or FaCSIA will ensure that each funded organisation has full access to any documentation/reports concerning its assessment.

New Family Relationship Service Program resources fact sheet

For easy access and ordering of all the Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) resources available, free of charge, a resource fact sheet has been developed listing all resources produced by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department, such as:

  • Brochures
  • Wall posters
  • Bookmarks
  • DVDs and supporting booklets
  • Postcards
  • Flyers.

To view and download these resources, go to the FRSP resource fact sheet

Good governance - A key issue at the recent FRSP Conference

At the recent FRSP Conference in Melbourne, panel members from the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA), Relationships Australia and the National Institute of Governance explored the topic of good organisational governance. 

FaCSIA reported that a greater level of rigour is now being applied to compliance with funding agreements and contracts, as a greater level of consistently is now required in order for FaCSIA to meet obligations under the Financial Management Act.

Some examples of how this will apply to FRSP funded organisations include:

  • acquittal of funding from previous years - this will now be required before further funding is provided
  • milestones must be fully met unless adequate reasons for not doing so are provided, and
  • client fees from FRSP funded programs must be recorded and expenditure accounted for, as Funding Agreements require this public money to be spent on FRSP service delivery.

The requirement for compliance with FRSP Approval Requirements helps ensure service quality across the sector. Individual organisations are expected to constantly review and improve service quality. The Australian Government will work closely with the sector in developing and implementing mechanisms to achieve these results.

The National Institute of Governance at the University of Canberra (the institute) has a range of resources and services available to support non-profit organisations achieve good governance.  Templates designed to help organisations further develop governance practices in the context of their own culture, mission and operations are also available through the Institute.

Sector Updates

Update from Drummond St on new Family Mental Health Support Service

With our new FaCSIA funded Family Mental Health Support Service-Demonstration Project (FMHSS), Drummond Street Relationship Centre has a rare and wonderful opportunity to develop our capacity to identify and respond to mental health symptoms, illness, and risk in families.

Our FMHSS covers five inner Melbourne local government areas (Melbourne, Yarra, Boroondarra, Port Phillip and Stonnington). Through this program, we have built our agency capacity and filled service gaps by:

  • providing referrals, limited case management and resources to help people with mental health symptoms and illnesses, and their family members, to navigate the relatively complex mental health and related service system
  • providing specialised counselling and groups for family members impacted by another’s mental illness, to address their needs and the needs of their family members, to support them in their relationship
  • enhancing our Family Intake Service capacity to screen and assess for mental illness symptoms and diagnoses present in families accessing our service, and our capacity to screen and assess for families ‘at risk’ of developing mental illness
  • developing our research and evaluation capacity to assess mental health and wellbeing at different points within our service involvement, and
  • collaborating with other specialist agencies in helping target groups (those at high risk of developing mental illness with low rates of accessing services) namely Indigenous, CALD and young people, to access services.

In order to screen for risk, we are using risk and protective factors identified in research (National Mental Health Strategies: Promotion, Prevention, & Early Intervention for Mental Health: A monograph, 2000) associated with developing mental illness in particular, as well as other health risk behaviours. Behaviours such as early school leaving, problematic alcohol/drug use, gambling etc. The factors we are focussing on are those within our service delivery scope, relating to individuals and families and those factors are amenable to assistance and change rather than those essentially outside a families’ present control (such as premature birth).

We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate in this exciting new venture for our sector. If you are interested in getting involved or would like further information, please contact Reima Pryor on 03 9663 6733

Launch of new national endorsement process

The Institute of Group Leaders (IGL) has launched a national endorsement process for community-based group work programs and a website register of those programs.  This process enables organisations and individuals who have developed group work programs to obtain national accreditation.

The endorsement process is focused on the programs’ development rather than the recognition of competency of the facilitator (Specialists in Group Work, 2000).

The program endorsement process will enable:

  • organisations or individuals to recognise their group work program as a ‘quality program’
  • organisations or individuals to display an ‘IGL Endorsed Program‘ sticker on the program manual. This may be useful to for the marketing of the programs or to promote the sale of manuals to other organisations, and
  • other organisations or group facilitators to access the IGL website and obtain information about existing programs that focus on different target groups and issues. To access the IGL website to check the endorsement status of group work programs and to obtain information about the program, organisations or group facilitators should approach the relevant copyright holder.

 Closing date for endorsement applications is 21 December 2007. Extensions can be applied for before the closing date.

The Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP) sponsors two awards that include a $500 gift voucher for Open Leaves Bookshop for outstanding group work programs. These awards will be announced at the 2008 Institute of Group Leaders Conference on the 7-8 March 2008.

To receive a copy of the endorsed group program criteria or for more information email admin@igl.org.au or visit the Institute of Group Leaders website.

New support product for teens - launched September

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has launched a new booklet, Family separation: a guide for teens and website www.youth.csa.gov.au to support teenagers with separated parents.

Both resources contain practical advice on a range of issues that teens identified as being highly important after parental separation, including how to cope with their emotions, dealing with change, adjusting to step-families, being concerned about what the future might hold, managing their health and wellbeing, and maintaining their studies.

Family separation: a guide for teens and the youth website were developed in consultation with youth and community organisations and has been widely supported by service providers, including Kids Help Line, beyondblue: the national depression initiative and Relationships Australia.

The booklet and website also include contact details for a range of organisations that specialise in family separation, mental health, domestic violence and other youth-specific services.

This free booklet is available by ordering online on the Department of Human Services website or by phoning 1800 040 972.

Free audio books now available to support separated parents

Five information products are now available from the Child Support Agency (CSA) in audio format for customers experiencing separation and who are vision impaired or have difficulties with reading.

A key activity for the CSA is supporting separated parents, new partners, kids and the extended family to overcome the turbulence of separation and develop positive family relationships for their children’s sake. The Me and My series of free booklets were developed to minimise the impact of separation on families and focus on the main issues that separated parents have identified as affecting their family.

Over half a million of the free booklets were distributed in the last financial year. With high demand for the booklets, CSA started producing the series in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese and has now also made an audio format available to ensure even more parents can benefit from this valuable support information. The audio product was developed with the assistance of Vision Australia, a professional vision accessibility service provider.

The free Me and My series cover key issues around separation including repartnering and second families; practical money ideas; taking care of yourself; tips and hints on forming a workable relationship with your ex; and guidelines for people who are parenting from a distance.

To obtain the free Downloadable MP3 versions of Me and My booklets, as well as the original hard copy booklets visit the publications page of the CSA website or phone the publication ordering line on freecall 1800 040 972. Parents who speak a language other than English can call the telephone interpreting service on 131 450.

Child Support Scheme Reforms Stakeholder eBulletin update

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 bulletin will help keep you up to date with particular issues that separated parents are concerned with about child support and the reforms.

Below is a link to the latest editions of the stakeholder 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.


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We value your interest in this publication and seek your feedback about the articles published. Feedback notes will be kept confidential. 

We also seek contributions from the sector. Should you have a topic of interest you feel the sector or industry stakeholders would be interested in, 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 12 October. The next edition of FRSP Sector e-News will be released on 12 November.

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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