Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
Family Participation Program Townsville
It is widely recognised that the statutory system hasn’t always been effective at addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering the child protection system, and that this situation continues to occur at an unsustainable rate. The TAIHS Family Participation Program (FPP) team aims to address the current situation by working with families to assist them to better understand child protection concerns and to ensure they have a say when important decisions about their family are being made.
The FPP is a new program that recognises the importance of explaining to families that their circumstances can change at any given point in time and our role is to support them to address identified child protection concerns. Families are made aware of Child Safety’s immediate worries including those things that are not negotiable and must change. Our service explains to families that the FPP engagement is an ongoing process involving parents, children and extended family members. Our service values the family’s identified needs whilst presenting alternative options that will promote a culturally safe outcome for children. To promote self-determination the TAIHS FPP uses a family led decision making process that ensures families have a voice when developing solutions to make their children safer. Although the FPP referrals may come from different points across the child protection continuum, our model promotes self-determination by adhering to the same family led decision making process.
In terms of continuously improving our service to families, children and community the TAIHS FPP will develop tools and strategies to ensure families feel comfortable and confident in providing feedback. Critical to our success is capturing the family’s strengths and stories over time to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. For example, by having families actively participate in the design of our model of service means that our program is drawing directly on family strengths and exploring their own solutions. Experience tells us that children are safer and more connected to community and culture when Murri and Islander families are directly involved in the planning and able to make informed choices.
Legal Aid’s Child Protection Early Intervention Program
The child protection system can be difficult for vulnerable parents to navigate, particularly in the early stages of involvement by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women. At times, community-based support agencies may be working with parents who urgently need legal advice and assistance about child protection issues.
Legal Aid’s Child Protection Early Intervention Program partners with community-based support agencies to receive referrals for parents who are involved with or are at risk of becoming involved with the child protection system. The Early Intervention Program works closely with support services to advocate for parents to receive the support and guidance they need to keep their children safe, which helps ensure that statutory child protection intervention occurs only as a last resort. Importantly, the assistance provided by the Early Intervention Program may involve legal advice and assistance before court proceedings begin. Lawyers in the Early Intervention Program can assist parents to negotiate with Child Safety with the aim of achieving a less intrusive outcome. The Early Intervention Program aims to work with community agencies to deliver a holistic service to parents, with lawyers working to meet the parent’s legal needs while support workers provide assistance with the client’s social and emotional needs.
The Child Protection Early Intervention Program is also supported by Legal Aid’s Indigenous Community Engagement Officer to deliver Community Legal Education and to engage and build connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through agencies such as QATSICPP.
A recent referral to the Early Intervention Program saw a community-based support agency refer a mother to the service for assistance with negotiations with Child Safety. Child Safety had become involved with the family due to concerns about substance abuse, housing, domestic violence and mental health. At the time of the Early Intervention Program’s involvement, the children were living in the care of family members under an informal safety plan. However, no arrangements had been made by Child Safety for the children to have contact with the mother. Although Child Safety had intervened, the matter had not yet progressed to a court application.
A lawyer working for Legal Aid’s Early Intervention Program had face-to-face meetings with the mother and her support worker, with the lawyer travelling to meet with the mother at the support worker’s office. This ensured that the meetings took place in a familiar space where the mother felt comfortable and allowed her to more easily access legal advice. With the permission of the mother, the support worker also remained during the meetings to provide emotional support.
During these meetings, the lawyer gave the mother legal advice about responding to Child Safety’s intervention and explored ways in which the lawyer could assist. The support worker also discussed how the community support agency was working to assist the mother to alleviate the concerns raised by Child Safety, including linking the mother in with appropriate services and assisting with the mother’s housing issues. By working together and sharing information, the lawyer and the support worker were able to better assist the mother to address the child protection issues.
The mother was initially hesitant to engage with the lawyer due to concerns about causing tension with Child Safety. The lawyer was able to reassure the mother that she could support her working relationship with Child Safety, while at the same time advocating for her to have contact with the children.
Working closely with the mother and her support worker, the lawyer began advocating for Child Safety to establish a contact regime between the mother and the children. This involved the Early Intervention Program lawyer attending a number of meetings at Child Safety’s offices to represent the mother. At each of these meetings, the lawyer worked collaboratively with the support worker to ensure that the mother was practically and emotionally supported to attend, and that she had a clear understanding of what would occur at the meeting.
Following negotiations with Child Safety, an agreement was reached for the mother to have unsupervised contact with the children for two nights each week. A longer-term plan was also established with Child Safety to gradually increase the children’s contact with the mother, with the aim of returning the children to her full-time care. The Early Intervention Program continues to work with the mother and the support agency to progress safe contact and to provide ongoing legal advice and assistance to the mother.
If your agency works with parents who need legal advice and assistance with child protection issues, Legal Aid’s Child Protection Early Intervention Program invites you to contact us to establish a referral pathway. The Early Intervention Program can be contacted by emailing email@example.com.
An opportunity for the sector
Candice Butler, our Senior Practice Leader, is working on the development of the following projects in 2019 which will aim to provide an opportunity for engagement of future students, enhancing your supervision story and mentoring.
The projects are as follows:
- QATSICPP Student Hub
- A network of external supervisors
- Mentoring program
The QATSICPP Student Hub will provide an opportunity for Social Work students to undertake their final placements within a QATSICPP Member Organisation. This placement will provide an invaluable opportunity for any student. Candice has already begun discussions with QATSICPP Member Organisations and Universities within the South East Queensland region (last year) and will be in contact shortly to have the Student Hub up and running in second semester 2019.
Strong workers are the vehicle for moving towards stronger families, communities and culture. It is with this in mind that we look towards the development of a network of external supervisors who are able to provide supervision to our workers whilst utilising the QATSICPP Supervision Framework. This network is by no means replacing Supervision that should be undertaken within the workplace rather an opportunity for further growth and exploration of our individual Supervision story.
Mentoring has been identified during both the Community of Practice and the recent Workforce strategy that is currently awaiting formal approval. The aim of the Mentoring program will support mentees to develop their own skills and strategies and be able to reflect and guide their own practice. The program will also support the opportunity to identify future leaders within our sector.
If you would like any further information about any or all of the projects listed above, please do not hesitate to email Candice on firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflections on the Collaboration between QATSICPP and Griffith University in the design and delivery of the postgraduate course
“Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Child Protection Practice Standards”
Over the past 12 months I have been privileged to work with QATSICPP staff and staff from the Griffith University First Peoples Health Unit as we designed and delivered this brand new course for 2018/2019. At Griffith University a course is what we call a single subject.
The development of this course, offered at a postgraduate level via the Graduate Certificate of Human Services at Griffith University, is the end result of a vision by the QATSICPP Board and Staff to offer a university level training opportunity for staff who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community based and community controlled organisation within child protection and family wellbeing. The course is grounded from and developed around the QATSICPP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Practice Standards along with further content developed from QATSICPP and other relevant content. It builds and expends on the important training QATSICPP has been rolling out over past years.
From the initial meetings between Griffith staff and QATSICPP through to the delivery of the course over the 2018/2019 summer I feel the process has been an extremely positive and rewarding one for all participants. This includes the wonderful group of practitioners who enrolled in the course for its first offering and become the first group of students to take the course.
For many of the participants this was their first experience with university level study which is exactly the outcome QATSICPP was hoping to see. It has been clear from the start that QATSICPP have a commitment to support the staff of community organisations to gain more formal qualifications via training that is relevant to their work, culturally safe and supportive of career development.
The course is a mix of online learning that supports a week long residential held in Brisbane in mid-December. There will always be challenges and unforeseen issues with the rolling out of a brand new course such as this, especially when it involves participants having to commit to a week long, intensive learning program, away from home and family. I commend the QATSICPP staff and the staff of the Griffith First Peoples Health Unit for working closely together, on tight deadlines, to make the residential happen.
This first group of students really stepped up to all the challenges both logistically and academically and came together at the Griffith University South Bank campus in Brisbane to create a fantastic collaborative learning experience. Particularly valuable in this week was the huge wealth of knowledge and experience that participants already held coming into the course. It was a week of hard work and commitment and as the course convenor I was really impressed with the positive approach all the participants took.
Outside of the residential the students have also successfully stepped-up to the challenges of online learning and collaboration with participants tuning into the virtual campus from southern Queensland through to the far north and the far west. The technology available through the Griffith digital online environment makes it possible for students to feel much more connected and engaged with the course and each other. It’s a big improvement from the old distance education packages that might have arrived in the mail.
It’s a bit early to report officially on the final outcomes of the course as participants are finishing their final assessments now, with many experiencing huge disruptions from the flooding in north Queensland, however, it’s looking like we will be having a very successful end to what has been a successful first run of the course. I hope to see this innovative and important collaboration between QATSICPP and Griffith University go from strength to strength as we look to offer it again in 2019.
Article provided by: Glenn Woods, Course Convenor, School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University.
Parenting Programs Make a Difference to Cairns Families
Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (Wuchopperen) has been providing a variety of parenting programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Cairns region to develop parenting skills and reduce the prevalence of mental health, emotional and behavioural problems in children.
In 2018, Wuchopperen saw 29 families graduate from our key parenting programs including Circle of Security, Parenting Under Pressure, and Triple P. Each program focuses on a different element of parenting and the many challenges of raising children at various ages.
Lorna Baker, Manager of Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre says the parenting programs not only develop the confidence of parents, but also of the children. “We see huge changes in the families who participate in our parenting programs. The children are a lot more confident, and a number of our parents ask our educators for additional activities to do with their children at home.
The programs are all about creating positive relationships between parents and children and giving parents the tools to do this. The programs also provide parents with a support group of other people who might be going through similar issues,” says Lorna. Following the huge success of the programs focused on families run by Wuchopperen in 2018, 2019 is set to be a great year for Wuchopperen and our clients.
“Throughout 2018 we had to establish an additional playgroup to accommodate the number of families coming through Wuchopperen. It is really great to see the progress of all the families and how our team is able to cater to the individual needs of everyone who walks through our doors,” says Lorna. The team at Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre consists of Early Childhood Educators, Family Support Workers and Child Health Workers who can provide a holistic service to all our families.
FPP Induction & AFLDM Training
This article is a reflective piece that will cover the Family Participation Program (FPP) Induction Workshops and Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) training, primarily because I started back at QATSCIPP during the first week of FPP Inductions and it was a busy process to be a part of. The FPP Induction training was held in October 2018 at Rockhampton, Ipswich, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, North Brisbane and Cairns. The AFLDM-SNAICC Training closely followed the FPP Inductions in November-December, and QATSICPP also provided feedback to the Department on the FPP Funding and Program Guidelines in November.
During these busy three months, a few thoughts immediately spring to mind. Firstly, that the capacity of our sector is strong and ever adaptable, and this is evident in our willingness to work with the Department in what can often be very tight timeframes. Due to the nature of the funding process, services across the state were at very different stages of the FPP Program in terms of recruitment and development. However, all member services engaged in very healthy discussion and critique at all the workshops I attended, exploring issues such as how will the services run on the ground, how will reporting occur, the role of the independent person/entity, concerns regarding what ‘happens’ now some families won’t have access to a Recognised Entity and similar practice queries.
Overall, what was clear during the FPP Inductions were the voices of member organisations articulating the opportunity to implement the FPP program in a way that will honour the Legislative reforms, in particular the elements of the Child Placement Principle. It also goes without saying that during such discussion, issues of how the Department will now work and adjust to a program and process that is underpinned by self-determination, choice and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were raised. This is because in theory the reforms represent a real shift in power in how the Department and further the Queensland Government work with our people.
QATSICPP’s feedback on FPP Funding and Program Guidelines provided to the Department further highlighted issues such as what checks and balances will need to be in place to honour FPP Family Plans, how referrals will occur and where and when should an AFLDM occur for a family. No doubt in the coming months (and years) it will ultimately be our Aboriginal and Torres Strait community who will observe whether the intent and process of the FPP are being truly honoured.
The AFLDM training facilitated by SNAICC followed throughout November and December 2019, was also another very busy period for all involved. The training itself was over 5 successive days and again whilst members were in various stages of capacity and this was understood, the sector again ensured that all workshops were well attended. I was fortunate to attend the AFLDM Training that was held at Ipswich and which had FPP staff from ATSICHS, Kummara, Mt Isa, Goolburri and Mununjali attend. Areas such as the Child Placement Principle, Family Mapping, building cultural authority, enabling childrens’ participation and working safely in the context of trauma and family violence were some of the content that was discussed and critiqued over the course of the training. Day four was a particular highlight, as this was when the services had to lead a practical demonstration/role play of working with a family using the AFLDM process. What was evident from observing the role plays were the range of skills that our sector has and are able to clearly articulate. Participants were able to talk through and demonstrate areas such as ‘how to’ clearly outline worries and facilitating a process; whereby families have voice and are and comfortable to ‘talk up’, how to engage families including those that may be deemed ‘difficult’ and how to manage communication with the Department (including when there is regular turn-over of Dept staff – which is often a very real issue we face). Other areas that make the AFLDM work on the day such as organising catering and transport for families was discussed.
Article provide by: Alf Davis, QATSICPP Senior Policy Officer
KALWUN Family Participation Program
“BUILDING SOLID FAMILIES”
From 1 November 2018, the new Family Participation Program (FPP) commenced throughout Queensland replacing the Recognised Entity (RE) role. The South East Queensland Family Participation Program is delivered by Kalwun, ATSICHS Brisbane and Mununjali within their allocated areas, with Kalwun covering the Gold Coast area. The common goal of the service is to empower families to participate in decisions about their children at multiple points over the period of their engagement with the child protection system.
Kalwun FPP commenced on 1 of November 2018 and has an existing team of four; 2 x FPP Convenor’s and 2 x FPP Practitioner’s. We have been fortunate to sustain a team of experienced Child Protection workers (previous RE workers) and have a balance of 2 x females and 2 x males. To date we have successfully worked with 12 families. We have found the transition for the families under the new FPP program to be more welcoming, accepted, inclusive and with ownership being embraced.
A key contributing factor to the success of the FPP is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Family Led Decision Making process, which is empowering our families to they have a voice, with a cultural emphasis on practice delivery (to our families) in a culturally safe way and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in partnership with them.
The FPP support the primary principle that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to self-determination and the right to quality services based on the implementation of the five (5) elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.
- Prevention - that a child has the right to be brought up within the child’s own family and community.
- Participation - that a child and the child’s parents and family members have the right to participate in an administrative or judicial process for making a significant decision about a child.
- Partnership - that Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander peoples have the right to participate in significant decisions under the Child Protection Act 1999 about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, including the design and delivery of programs and services.
- Placement - that if a child is to be placed in care, the child has a right to be placed with a member of the child’s family group.
- Connection - that a child has a right to be supported to develop and maintain a connection with the child’s family, community, culture, traditions and language.
This service is a resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and works independently of the Department of Child Safety.
The FPP work together with parents, families and children to independently facilitate an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making (ATSIFLDM) process. ATSIFLDM is a process that gives authority to parents, families and children to work together to solve problems and lead decision making in a culturally safe space. This approach provides an opportunity to keep children safe in a way that optimises families’ participation and confidence in the process, while meeting any statutory requirements.
The aim of the program is to take a strength-based approach that is solution focussed and engages the family in providing a safe environment for the child. A relationship that seeks to understand and invites responsibility and resilience rather than blame. A strength-based approach that acknowledges the positive aspects of the family and looks for exceptions to identified concerns. The goals of the intervention are developed with the immediate and extended family and other key identified persons. The ATSIFLDM process facilitates shared decision-making involving children, young people, parents and families to develop family-based solutions that provide for the safe care and connection of children; “VOICE and CHOICE”.
Kalwun FPP endeavour to make a difference for our families under the umbrella of this new program by strengthening the “VOICE and CHOICE” of our families and ultimately building SOLID FAMILIES.
Photo of the FPP team; from left to right; Vanessa Summers – CFSS General Manager, John Lui - FPP Practioner, Tanya Blackhall - FPP Convenor, Leiarna Dooley - Service Manager. Unfortunately, we have two team members that are absent.
Establishment of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Council
Hearing and responding to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people:
Establishment of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Council
Over the coming months, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, aged between 14 – 25 years will have the opportunity to provide a voice and be representative on matters affecting youth through the establishment of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Council.
The Youth Council will provide a safe and secure platform for youth to speak up and provide their views on the issues that are affecting them. This Council will provide a space for youth to determine the pace with which issues are dealt with by seeking resolutions and support from people their ages; and further allowing representative bodies the ability to hear youth voices, and incorporate them in to their daily functions, strategic direction and policy influencing. The ultimate aim is to build and strengthen leadership, mentoring and capacity for strong, enabled and confident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland.
One of the key priorities of the Council will be to develop a Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Strategic Framework. This will provide a tool for the sector to commit to Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth achieving goals that are important to them, and that are meaningful and have long-lasting impact.
Supporting this important initiative, QATSICPP would like to thank The Benevolent Society for their generous sponsorship. The sponsorship will assist the council with establishing themselves in the first year. QATSICPP encourages and welcomes sponsorship from other organisations, to support the aims, purpose and directives of the Council into the future.
For more information about the Youth Council, please do not hesitate to contact Sid Williams, the QATSICPP Training and Education Coordinator on mobile 0477701257 or email: email@example.com