Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
Family Matters February 2018 Update
Family Matters is the National Campaign for eliminating the disproportionate representation of our children in statutory child protection systems in Australia. Since the last newsletter edition, we have continued to drive targeted efforts and strategies aimed at increasing Campaign visibility and engagement; including tangible efforts that support the National Campaign objectives; whilst also supporting the Queensland rollout of the Our Way strategy and Changing Tracks action plan.
Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2037 has been developed in consort with the Queensland Government and with commitment from multiple Departments; and aims to drive and deliver on key system, service, practice and process level reforms, changes and enhancements; to contribute to halting and eliminating the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in statutory child protection systems. Changing Tracks: An action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2019 is the first three-year action plan of the generational strategy, and sets out strategies, reforms and improvements for pursuit; including greater accountability and responsibility across all system levels.
In support of Our Way and Changing Track's rollout, Family Matters Queensland have been maintaining active, regular dialogue with the Queensland Government and in particular the Our Way strategy team within the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS), to provide routine and regular oversight and monitoring of the action plan's rollout and progression of its embedded strategies and action measures. Fortnightly meetings are subsequently now in progress between the Our Way team and Family Matters Queensland, to provide regular, routine opportunity for joint consultation and progress review. Furthermore, Family Matters Queensland is in the process of working with the Our Way team to attend regional workshops being convened across the State regarding the Our Way strategy and Changing Tracks action plan; with an intertwined focus on supporting embedment and effective use and activation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.
At the jurisdictional level, Queensland Family Matters has also been focused on achieving increased engagement and mobilisation of active efforts at service and practice levels, through our Queensland Family Matters Leadership Group. The Leadership Group comprises local, regional and state-based organisations involved in the planning and direct provision of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The aim of the Leadership Group is to help drive and deliver on state-based strategies, actions and approaches that promote and support the vision, targets, principles and building blocks of the Family Matters Campaign; whilst also committing to and applying tangible responses that promote the Our Way strategy; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. Leadership Group meetings are now to be convened on a monthly basis, with the latest meeting held 30 January 2018. 2018 priorities for the Queensland Leadership Group have been guided by collective input and dialogue from a range of signatories to the Campaign, as well as informed by findings from the latest 2017 Family Matters Report.
Queensland Family Matters attended the launch of the report at Parliament House in late November 2017, at which time political engagement with the campaign was also a key focus.
An upcoming focus for Family Matters Queensland is also this year's National Week of Action, to be held 14 - 20 May 2018. The purpose of the Family Matters National Week of Action is to profile the campaign and its priorities, as well as to advocate the needs, experiences and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and the importance of retaining connection to culture, community and country. QATSICPP and Family Matters Queensland are pleased to announce that we will be administering a micro-grant round for local community events and promotions to be held at the time of the National Week of Action, with 10 grants available to the value of $500, and 5 grants available to the value of $1,000. Applications are invited from local organisations and communities to run an event or promotion in your community. An application form will be circulated throughout our member networks and Family Matters signatories and any questions can be directed to our Family Matters Queensland Co-ordinator, Jess Mcardle (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A special acknowledgement also goes to those who were involved in the recent screening of Cherbourg Women - My Struggle My Fight, held Friday 19th January 2018 at Bunyupa Park in West End. In early November Yamaji filmmaker Janine Kelly travelled to Cherbourg Community with her Aunty Rhonda Collard-Spratt to document the up close and personal stories of the Cherbourg Women who are suffering the removal of their Children and Grandchildren. Through the heartache and pain these brave women tell their stories:
"Our aim is to fight to keep our children safe and to stop them from being forcibly removed by DOCS, taking them off country and placing them with non Indigenous carer's and families where the children in turn lose their culture and identity and the essence of their footprints their land and country. We Need to stand together United and fight this ongoing battle"
We encourage any organisations who are not yet signatories to Family Matters Queensland to take the Statement of Commitment to the Campaign, or pledge your support as an individual via our national website: www.familymatters.org.au.
Future Directions for Family Led Decision Making
As the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system continues to rise, peak bodies such as SNAICC and QATSICPP strongly advocate for initiatives to address this trend and strive to keep children connected to family, community and culture.
One such initiative trialled across four Queensland sites in 2016 and 2017 was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family-Led Decision Making (ATSIFLDM). ATSIFLDM Convenors in Ipswich, Mt Isa, Cairns and Thursday Island supported families to participate in decisions about the safety and wellbeing of their children.
The family led decision making approach was found to enhance case planning and outcomes for children due to the involvement of family and community members who understand the specific family context, relationships, needs, risks, and support options available, including cultural support.
The Queensland Government committed in its Changing Tracks action plan to expand the family led decision making approach state-wide. Implementation of the state-wide initiative will be informed by findings from the trial noted in the SNAICC Report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family-Led Decision Making (2017) and the external evaluation report compiled by research partners Ipsos and Winangali.
Recent legislative changes to the Child Protection Act raise the bar on participation of family in decisions that affect their children. As legislative changes are implemented throughout the year, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies will gain greater autonomy in engaging with families at risk of, or subject to, statutory intervention. Prior to this change, services have had a limited role in providing cultural advice to the child safety department.
Now services can focus on empowering family and community to participate in decisions that affect children in their own way based on the best interests of the children.
Training will be offered to the sector to develop an understanding of the principles underpinning family-led decision making and to develop skills in how to best facilitate family meetings, support the voice of children and families in case planning and decision making, meet identified needs and work collaboratively with partners involved in the family-led decision making process.
MARABISDA (Mackay) Organisational Profile
MARABISDA (Mackay And Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association) Inc. We are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation incorporated in 2009.
Our main objective on being incorporated was being to support particularly Mackay's young Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander people to participate in the sporting or cultural activities of their choice. Many of our young people are very talented in their chosen sport, but are unable to excel due to their financial limitations. MARABISDA has continued with this objective, although our service delivery programs are now the main priority for us as an organisation.
MARABISDA's Governing Committee currently consists of six (6) Directors, who are all of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or Australian South Sea Islander heritage, and are living in or strongly connected with the Mackay community.
We currently employ 12 staff and deliver the following programs from our office at 2/17 Macalister Street, Mackay:
- Piccaninny Foster and Kinship Care Service (commenced in 2012) - Recruitment, support, training and assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foster and kinship carers in Mackay, Sarina, Proserpine, Bowen, and Moranbah.
- Indigenous Family Wellbeing Service - We deliver the IFWS as a Consortium in the Mackay/Whitsunday region with Mudth-Niyleta Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation (Sarina), and Girudala Community Co-operative Society (Bowen), as the lead agency. We have employed a Men and Boys Worker and Early Childhood Development Coordinator with the IFWS Consortium to work with our mob across the Mackay/Whitsunday region.
- Recognised Entity - MARABISDA were approached to auspice the Mackay Recognised Entity workers in early 2017, and this arrangement continues until such time as the Recognised Entity review is completed. We only have two (2) workers for the RE in the Mackay region, and these ladies cover the geographical area from St Lawrence in the South, West to Moranbah, and North to Bloomsbury/Midge Point.
Our other past community activities include the sponsorship of education programs such as Knukela Binbi Beerkou (Year 10 Certificate II Work & Life Skills) and the PaCE Program that ran from 2012 to 2015.
Our self-generating income activity, MARABISDA Bingo on Friday nights, enables us to continue with financially supporting our local young athletes and leaders in their chosen sport or field.
Please visit our website, www.marabisda.org.au, to learn more about our staff, Board and activities.
Family Wellbeing in Central Queensland
Central Queensland Indigenous Development Ltd (CQID) has been appointed by the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services as a key provider of Family Wellbeing Services to Indigenous communities in and around Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Woorabinda, Emerald, Longreach and Rockhampton.
The goal of the Service is to keep more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children safe by ensuring children and their parents, carers and family members are supported with developing their strengths, skills and capacity to live healthy and positive lives. While also working alongside the Department of Communities & Child Safety to reduce over-representation and increase cultural support and wellbeing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care. Through family led decision making a process that recognises the impact of the past traumas and the importance of healing, in raising strong healthy, happy children and families while nurturing positive cultural identity for all children.
To achieve synergies, CQID has formed partnerships with other Indigenous organisations to bring a collaborative approach to promoting wellbeing and to ensure the strengths of partners enhance service provision to clients. Our services across Central Queensland will be looking at ways that we can work more collaboratively across agencies to support clients with a variety of expertise and hope that it will be strengthened in the future.
In the past three months we have received good news stories from around the region where Family Wellbeing Officers have been successful with securing accommodation, employment and reconnecting children and families through family gatherings. There are a number of Men and Women's Groups that are being established across the region as well as healing camps being developed in partnership with local Traditional Owners and Elders.
As an organisation we are excited about being a part of the roll out of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Programs state wide. For further advice on a service near you please call us on 07 4920 0000.
CEO Report - February 2018
2018 promises to be a massive year for QATSICPP and the community controlled child protection sector!
This year will bring significant reform, building on some significant achievements from last year - I hope you all have lots of energy!
With new legislation, and the statewide rollout of the Family Participation Program and other key initiatives under the landmark "Our Way" generational strategy, we are optimistic that the sector will be well positioned to lead the design and delivery of services that will make a real and meaningful impact for our children, their families and communities.
At a national level, we are actively engaged with the Closing the Gap refresh, advocating strongly that the disproportionate representation of our children in out of home care must be addressed as a national priority, through clear targets and accountability mechanisms for all Governments and service providers across all indicators of our children's wellbeing, a comprehensive national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's strategy and establishment of dedicated national partnership agreements to achieve equity and equality for our children.
In line with the 2017-2020 QATSICPP Strategic Plan, we will continue to shift the narrative for our sector in a clear departure from a sector that needs to be fixed or "strengthened" to one which pursues and promotes practice excellence. Our conference, (see below), is a great opportunity to showcase the brilliant work that our member organisations do to enable positive outcomes for Aboriginal children and families.
We will also be focussed on ensuring accountability for the "industry" that dominates the delivery of services to our communities and continue to advocate strongly that it is our families, communities and their organisations that need to lead and be appropriately resourced to build the future that our children envision and aspire to.
We look forward to continuing this important work together, and as always, please feel free to get in touch with any of the QATSICPP team, Council Members or Board of Directors.
Farewell to Deb Malthouse, Wuchopperen Health Service CEO
Article provided by Robyn Moylan and Natalie Lewis
After 8 years of dedicated Service to Wuchopperen Health Service (WHS) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community of Cairns, Deb is taking a much deserved break and is retiring at the end of November to be able to spend quality time with her grandson.
Deb has achieved so much over her 8 years of service, WHS has developed and grown under her leadership. WHS has an additional 3 buildings and a carpark on site to accommodate over 200 staff. Deb led the expansion of our Health Service to Edmonton and has led the transition of Miden Clinic to Mulungu Health Service.
WHS has a long-standing association with QATSICPP since its inception, the first Chair of QATSICPP was from WHS. Deb has ensured that we continue to have a strong association with QATSICPP.
On behalf of the Wuchopperen Health Service Board (WHS), members and staff I would like to thank and acknowledge the tireless work of Deb Malthouse. Deb through her leadership and passion demonstrated a clear commitment in serving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Cairns and surrounding area. We wish Deb and her family the very best in her retirement
Further, the QATSICPP Board, staff and membership acknowledge Deb’s personal and professional contribution to the Community Controlled Child Protection sector. Her influence, thorugh enduring commitment and relentless advocacy on behalf of our children, young people, their families and communities has had an impact which extends far beyond Far North Queensland. QATSICPP wishes Deb the very best in her retirement.
Deb Malthouse – Wuchopperen Health Service CEO
Sector Profile - Erin Jia
60 seconds with Erin Jia
Wuchopperen Health Services Recognised Entity Service Coordinator
Where your mob from:
Proud Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander woman - Malanbarra Yidinji (Goldsborough QLD), Komet Le – Murray Island & Badu Island
Name an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person that has influenced your life or encouraged to be the person you are?
My Grandmother Iris Nancy Jia (nee Maza), she was a strong, beautiful, caring, generous woman.
5 things I cannot live without:
My children, Island Dancing, My entire family, Island Kai Kai, my phone
What is your favourite flavoured ice cream?
If you could have a drink with someone from history who would it be?
And what drink would you have? My Uncle Bob Maza and it would be a cuppa tea.
If you could be an animal what would you be?
What is your favourite season and why?
Winter – I love the cold.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Camping with all my family on the beach, swimming in the water holes to bath.
What hobby or activity that you don’t do now but think you might like to do when you retire?
Cook – I love to cook, I just don’t have the time.
What goes through your mind when your boss asks to talk to you privately? What have I done?
Gammon. I know it would be to discuss a process as he’s new to the role.
What song do you love to dance to?
Beautiful Woman – Toots & the Maytails
REFOCUS – an organisational profile
REFOCUS was founded in 2010 to specialise in providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. Our main focus is our children and ensuring that they and their parents receive needed services to assist in creating resilient, safe and happy environments.
- Recognised Entity
- Child and Family Wellbeing
- Targeted Youth Disability
- Community and Kinship Care
Some of our Recognised Entity staff L-R Yarraga Weatherall, Meg Pamenter, Carolyn Weldon, Katie Johnson and Darcy Cavanagh
What’s been happening....
In preparation for the new Child Protection Reform Amendments 2017, REFOCUS have changed all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff roles to be Identified REFOCUS Practitioner positions to be better placed to provide cultural support to children, young people, families and communities across the child protection continuum. The Identified REFOCUS Practitioners’ primary role as the Recognised Entity will remain involved in I & A’s, orders & frontline duties. This means that REFOCUS will have 20 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander team members consulting, being a resource for our children, young people, families and community.
The Wellbeing team are currently running Circle of Security and Indigenous Triple P across Sunshine Coast and Gympie in accessible community venues.
REFOCUS youth workers are collaborating with IFYS youth workers to run art, song, dance and sporting programs for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander youth.
REFOCUS will be moving from their Forest Glenn office to new premises in early 2018 with a space that will be available to our community with connections to land and water in the Sunshine Coast area. The venue will provide a conference space, industrial kitchen and community gardens for community to work, learn and “own” their space.
In the new Wellbeing hub (in 2018) we will be running new programs such as Kai Kai, You Matter, Man Up and a Mums & Bubs program.
REFOCUS also has a new office at Unit 7/12 Discovery Drive, North Lakes. This is where our Moreton Bay Recognised Entity and Community & Kinship Teams are based. This space is available for meetings and community people to access.
The new conference room at our North Lakes office.
The entrance to the new office with Darcy.
We have also recently participated in the QATSICPP Supervision Framework training and we are all madly realigning what our supervision looks like and the quality of how we both provide and receive supervision. We would like to thank the deadly team at QATSICPP for coming out and making sure that, we look after ourselves, so that we can continue to look after our children, young people and families.