Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
Family Matters May 2018 Update
Family Matters: Strong Communities. Strong Culture. Stronger Children is Australia’s national campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture.
Since the February 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.
Family Matters Queensland continues to convene fortnightly meetings with the Our Way strategy team as part of routine monitoring and oversight of strategies being undertaken under Our Way and Changing Tracks. Furthermore, out of session meetings have now also taken place, focused on progressing with actions as per the Changing Tracks strategy, including the development of a draft partnership agreement between Family Matters Queensland and the Queensland Government. Family Matters Queensland is now waiting on the next steps of the agreement’s formalisation, as well as the formal appointment and commencement of the Queensland First Children and Families Board; after completion of the Family Matters nominee EOI process during the early part of this year.
Our Family Matters Leadership Group also continues to meet on a monthly basis. The Leadership Group comprises signatories to the Family Matters Statement of Commitment and helps set the work program for Family Matters Queensland. Major work priorities for the group have focused around increasing campaign engagement and visibility, as well as accountability and commitment to the Family Matters principles and building blocks. To this end, a draft self-audit tool is also in development by the group, which will be a key tool for organisations to utilise, to be able to self-assess current practices, policies, processes and programs against the Family Matters building blocks.
A separate data group has also been formed from the composition of the Leadership Group, to commence work around development of regional profiles for across Queensland. Family Matters Queensland aims to strive toward development of routine, regional report cards that profile key outcomes and indicators, consistent with the scope of measures in the national report, to begin to try and tell our own story between the regional, state and national levels. This will also help contribute to Family Matters Queensland’s contribution to the annual, national 2018 Family Matters report.
Latest work has also been focused around the Family Matters National Week of Action (May 14 – 20 2018). The Family Matters National Week of Action is annual awareness raising event, to harness public engagement and political commitment to our key advocacy asks. During this week, we highlight the fundamental issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The theme for the 2018 Family Matters National Week of Action is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the frontline. It is these individuals, the families and frontline workers, who are our heroes. We want to personalise the Family Matters narrative, speak to the hearts and minds of our audiences, and ensure that communities, families and all individuals engaged in our campaign feel empowered to enact change.
For this year, in addition to supporting national campaign engagement strategies and promotions, Family Matters Queensland coordinated two main events for the National Week of Action. This included the screening of the film After the Apology on the 14th of May at Event Cinemas in the Myer Centre, to launch the week of activities. The documentary received strong attendance and many thanks goes to Gerald Featherstone, Lindsay Wegener and Michael Hogan for participating in the post film Q&A, which stimulated some robust discussion around what is happening in Queensland to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in child protection systems. Self-determination and transition of authority in decision making were also strongly flagged themes of the discussion, as well as the need to challenge systemic racism; and the importance of full application and adherence to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. There are further scheduled dates across the country for screenings of After the Apology, which can be found at https://au.demand.film/after-the-apology/. If you are interested in hosting a screening of the film, please go to https://au.demand.film/how-demand-works/ .
We also hosted another film screening on Saturday May 19th at Kuril Dhagun at the State Library, showcasing the documentary Cherbourg Women – My Struggle, My Fight.
Early in 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"-Cephia Williams.
The event was opened with a Welcome to Country and Traditional Dancers and the introduction to the event given by Family Matters Queensland co-Chair, Aunty Rachel Atkinson. The film was then introduced by Aunty Cephia Williams. A Q&A was held after the film involving women from the documentary, who travelled to be with us at the event. The Q&A stimulated a lot of discussion and again highlighted the need for movement toward cultural authority and the importance of family and community-led decision making. The need for local responses to local issues, driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and community, was strongly reiterated. Many thanks go to the film maker, Janine Kelly, and to all women involved in the documentary.
Many thanks too, to all involved in the coordination and planning of both events. Special acknowledgement also goes out to all organisations that held their own internal event to recognise and promote the National Week of Action.
For more information on Family Matters please visit www.familymatters.org.au
Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Child Protection Sector Workforce Strategy
Those working in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Child Protection services across Queensland play an integral role in supporting and advocating for our children, young people and families. To retain and further develop our current workforce and also attract and recruit others to our sector, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Program - Strategic Implementation Group has tasked QATSICPP to facilitate a Working Group to develop a Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Child Protection Sector Workforce Strategy. The Strategy will aim to identify and address the current and future workforce needs of our sector, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Services, Recognised Entities and Foster and Kinship Care Services.
All staff working in the above services are encouraged to complete a survey designed to gatherinformation to enable us to understand our current workforce profile and future workforce requirements. The survey can be accessed via the link below and is open until 8 June 2018.
If you would like further information about the Strategy, or have suggestions for inclusion, please contact Dion Tatow at QATSICPP – email@example.com
QATSICPP Members Conference 2018
QATSICPP launched both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Definition and Standards as well as the Position Statement for Aboriginal Kinship Care. Both of these papers are available for download on the QATSICPP website.
Jess McCardle provided an update in relation to the Family Matters campaign.
We also heard from Professor Roianne West present on the Graduate Certificate being developed with Griffith University and Professor Clare Tilbury present about the Centre of Excellence.
The winners of the Karaoke competition were Wuchopperen. Thank-you to all of those who got up and sang their hearts out.
A Post Conference report is currently being produced and will be available for all to read. The report will outline the following:
- The Members Conference Participants; and,
- The Conference Evaluations.
We also would like to acknowledge the AbSec staff who attended and engaged with our Sector in Queensland.
The staff of QATSICPP would like to extend a thank-you to all those who attended and on a personal note, I would like to say thank you to all of the QATSICPP staff for their hard-work and dedication in the lead-up, during and post-conference.
QATSICPP are looking forward to celebrating our 10-year anniversary next year so keep an eye out for details in the near future.
60 seconds with Candice Butler
Senior Practice Leader
- Where your mob from:
My mum’s family are from Yarrabah just outside of Cairns. We have links to the Kuku Yalanji and Wulgurukaba tribes.
- 5 things I cannot live without:
- 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?
Marilyn Monroe and it would be a Champagne cocktail.
- If you could be an animal what would you be?
A bear – who wouldn’t want to be able to hibernate for months at a time!
- What is your favourite season and why?
Queensland puts on the best winter in the world so honestly, why wouldn’t I say winter.
- What do you miss most about being a kid?
Not having a fear of heights/going on fast rides!
- What hobby or activity that you don’t do now but think you might like to do when you retire?
To learn how to fly a plane.
- What goes through your mind when your boss asks to talk to you privately?
Is there something that I’ve forgotten to do...?
- What song do you love to dance to?
Cha Cha Slide
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.