Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
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.
Welcome to QATSICPP New Members
QATSICPP would like to welcome two (2) new members to the QATSICPP Family of member organisations.
Firstly, welcome to Mununjali Housing and Development Company Limited, who provides services to community such as:
- Mununjali Jymbi Wellbeing Program: for families who difficulties from time to time and ongoing healing and support for individuals and their whole families;
- Long-term affordable accommodation (Housing): for members of the community and families;
- Aged Care Respite and In Home Care services; and
- PaCE - Parent and Community Endabling Program: the PaCE program focuses on the development and implementation of creative and innovative approaches to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous young people through enhancing Indigenous engagement with schools and education providers.
Mununjali are located in Beaudesert and can be contacted on 07 5541 2575. If you would like more information, please visit their website at: http://mununjali.com.au
Also welcome to our second new member, The Cape York Partnership Group Limited (CYP).
CYP provides reform and leadership to its community in the Cape that is dedicated to empowering Indigenous individuals and families. CYP encourages individuals and family to take responsibility and improve family functioning and self-reliance through positive parenting support, as well as engaging parents and families to engage in their children’s education. For more services that CYP provide, please go to their website: http://capeyorkpartnership.org.au
CYP are located in Carins and can be contacted on 07 4046 0600.
Congratulations and welcome to the QATSICPP family. We look forward to building strong relationships with you and supporting both organisations as we move forward.
Palm Island Children and Family Centre: The Impact of Genuine Locally Grown Services
“Successful Families, Successful Communities”
The CEO of the Palm Island Community Company (PICC), Rachel Atkinson recently presented to the 2017 SNAICC conference the unique character of PICC and its impact on improving the wellbeing, education and health of young children and their families.
Ms Atkinson informed the delegates, "PICC has a number of distinctive features which, together, create a sound foundation for enhancing the effective, prevention-focused early childhood service system. We think there is a direct link between the way services are provided by PICC staff and the significant improvements in child protection currently being observed".
Ms Atkinson stated that, "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are rarely taken into care on Palm Island and this has been the case for a number of years. This is an outstanding and very encouraging situation given current over-representation issues across the nation".
Ms Atkinson added, "This is not to say that all of the problems of a dysfunctional child protection system are resolved on Palm Island, this is far from the case and there is much work to be done, however, the reduction or elimination of children being removed from their families and communities is a significant step in moving forward."
The PICC system of delivering services to families and young children has evolved over the past 7 years since the inception of the organisation.
Throughout this time Ms Atkinson stated that there had been a focus on ongoing refinement of services, the development of good governance, securing long-term stable funding and active networking that provides the internal and external support required to review, reflect and adapt services to better suit the unique character of the Palm Island Community.
- According to Ms Atkinson, the critical features of the Palm Island Community Company early childhood development service system that contribute to a successful early childhood agenda include the following:
- Local employment – this cannot be overstated and is the cornerstone of the PICC organisation
- The existence of a place-based mature organization – dedicated to Palm Island and the people of Palm Island only
- Good governance – the appointment of a skills based Board of Directors with a majority of Palm Islanders
- Accredited service
- A system of daily continuous improvement
- The establishment of the Palm Island Elders group to guide and inform service implementation and development
- Stable pool of staff with family and community natural support networks, and a deep knowledge of culture, customs, family groups, Island dynamics, resources and supports
- Strong, consistent high-quality training with practice support.
In addition, PICC has developed a highly effective integration model to produce outcomes for the early childhood development agenda. Services currently delivered by PICC include:
- Safe House
- Children and Family Centre
- Community Justice Group
- Diversionary Service
- Women’s Shelter and Services
- Safe Haven Program
- Family Wellbeing Centre
- Social Enterprises
- Family Medical Practice
- Ready Together
- Early Childhood Development, Parenting, Health and Wellbeing Program
Ms Atkinson spoke about the integration demonstrated by the PICC model, "This approach has many benefits including multiple entry points for clients, staff having a deep local knowledge, including historical knowledge and how this impacts on the community, efficient and effective referrals system and innovation opportunities to name a few. However, with integration, there are concerns that consumers may not get adequate choices in a service system dominated by one organisation. PICC is well aware of this issue and considers it to be a necessary consequence of a fully integrated system with many benefits.” To mitigate this issue, PICC has implemented the following:
- recruitment of staff across services is representative of the family groups on Palm Island
- community representation on the PICC Board
- consultation with the Elders Advisory Group to guide service establishment, development and reform and to provide advice on local issues such as any community groups take-up of services or other issues of accessibility
- a system of robust, effective and immediate referrals of clients who decline to receive a PICC service
- the use of brokerage funding to support external referral
- participation in a strong community network of services on Palm Island so that interagency knowledge is maintained
- a comprehensive and accessible complaints and feedback system
- development of policies which directly address this issue including service delivery and HR policies such as Code of Conduct and staff employment contracts
- training of staff in areas of confidentiality, ethics and managing conflicts of interest
- staff are restricted in their access to data – staff, with the exception of management, are only able to access the data of their particular service
Ms Atkinson stated that the benefits of being a local resident and staff member responsible for delivering direct services to local community members far outweigh the disadvantages as, "We know that a deep knowledge of family and community is advantageous and results in better assessment of strengths and needs".
Ms Atkinson concluded her presentation by saying that she, "Hoped to have convinced you that a successful early childhood development system, which is delivered by local staff, and is having a direct impact on the numbers of children being removed from their community, can be achieved in a remote Indigenous Community.”
"I am hoping that I have convinced you that the employment of 100 local staff, which comprises 95% of PICC staff, is achievable and recommended to have an impact on child protection outcomes in remote communities."
Rachel Atkinson is a proud Yorta Yorta woman. She can be contacted at the Palm Island Community Company on 07 44214300 or by email
The start of something big
The Community of Practice was developed as part as QATSICPP’s commitment to support the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Services across Queensland. The Community of Practice is a virtual team whose focus is on the embedment of the Practice Standards in a local context as well as a sector wide commitment to practice excellence in the delivery of Child and Family Wellbeing.
The Family Wellbeing services were each asked to nominate a lead practitioner to participate in the virtual team.
Our first meeting occurred on the 8th and 9th of August. At this meeting we had 8 practice leads. Like all good things, we began with engaging with one another and we did this through a lot of talking and sharing of ideas (as well as a laugh or two!).
During this initial meeting we developed our Terms of Reference and established the expectations for the group and the role of QATSICPP. We also discussed any emerging practice issues and possible strategies for these issues.
Since this meeting, we’ve had a further two (2) teleconferences and at the end of November, the group will meet again in person for four (4) days. The first two days will be spent discussing emerging best practice and the embedment of the Practice Standards and the final two days will be spent undertaking the Train the Trainer in the Practice Standards and the Supervision Framework. The Train the Trainer will allow the practice leads to be able to go back to their workplaces and on deliver.
As part of my role in the Community of Practice, I am available to provide external supervision to the members of the group and with the assistance of Dion (Tatow), we will continue to promote and provide access to professional development.
If you have any questions/queries about the group, please feel free to contact either Dion or myself.
Article provided by QATSICPP Senior Practice Leader Candice Butler. For further information, please contact Candice via E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official opening of the Goolburri Family WellBeing Service in St George on 6 September 2017
On a fine, sunny day in St George members of the Community, Local Government, Goolburri Staff and children and families came together to share time, stories, laughs and good food. The event took place to celebrate the establishment of the new Family Wellbeing Team in the South West. Goolburri Health Advancement now has offices in Cunnamulla, Charleville, St George and Roma. The hub for service delivery is based in St George and this was the venue for the celebration. It was also Child Protection Week and the focus was on the Wellbeing of all families and the work that will be done by staff to ‘walk and talk’ with families to stay together and to have happy, healthy lives.
The funding from the Dept of Communities (Child Safety) was acknowledged and Regional Executive Director, Matthew Lupi along with Goolburri CEO Lizzie Adams, spoke of this great step forward in the delivery of community-based and family-led services in the Region. Elders from the Community, Pam Turnbull and Shirley Thurston attended, shared lunch and spoke of their experiences.
The Celebrations begins a new and exciting journey for Goolburri staff and families in the South West. It is a hopeful and positive step forward for the whole community toward Family Wellbeing.
New QATSICPP Staff Member: Queensland Family Matters Campaign Coordinator
Jess Mcardle is pleased to be joining the QATSICPP team as part-time Queensland Campaign Coordinator for the Family Matters Campaign in Queensland. Jess has been working for some years now within and across the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled sector, spanning health and social service domains, and in both fixed and consultancy capacities.
Jess has a backgroundin Social Science and has applied experience in working with Community Controlled organisations in relation to policy, strategy and planning, new service and program development, monitoring and evaluation and research more broadly. Jess is very pleased to be joining QATSICPP to help drive the Family Matters Campaign for the Queensland jurisdiction and will be working closely with Leadership Group members and other stakeholders over the coming period.
Predominant functions of the role include secretariat and coordination and support, accompanied by policy support, communications and promotions, and direct liaison to services for local messaging and engagement. Family Matters Leadership Group members and QATSICPP members more broadly are welcome to contact Jess for any enquiries relating to Family Matters, including regarding local participation mechanisms and sign-on to the Statement of Commitment.
Ph: 0428 419 176
Family Matters Update
Family Matters is the National Campaign for eliminating the disproportionate representation of our children in statutory child protection systems in Australia. Family Matters Queensland is pleased to report continuation of progress and momentum for the second half of 2017. Considerable efforts have been directed toward maintaining and growing the participation and engagement base of the campaign, and in particular in driving and actualising measures and strategies outlined in Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2037 and Changing Tracks: An action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2019.
Our Way is a generational strategy developed in consort with Queensland Government and with commitment from multiple departments, 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 symbolises the first three-year action plan of the generational strategy, and sets a roadmap for change, reform and improvement; as well as greater accountability and responsibility across Departments and sectors to contribute tangible benefits and improvements.
Family Matters Queensland has subsequently been focused on supporting and advocating both the generational and three-year strategy, including its principles of shared commitment, joint accountability, and government working in true partnership with community, families and children. True and effective implementation and embedment of the Child Placement Principle and its five elements is a dual priority, which has also been influential in the design and development of Our way and Changing Tracks; and associated strategies needed to create a supportive system and service environment that is able to achieve tangible and improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families.
In Queensland, we also continue to focus on the recruitment of local champions, as we recognise that it is through their leadership, within their families, organisations and communities that the most significant and sustainable change can be cultivated. We invite all QATSICPP Members and Supporters to sign the Statement of Commitment (organisations) and sign the Family Matters pledge (individuals). We would welcome your participation on the Queensland Family Matters Leadership Group, so if you are interested, please get in touch with us at QATSICPP, or with the Queensland Campaign Coordinator, Jess Mcardle.
Queensland Family Matters Campaign Coordinator contact details:
M: 0428 419 176
Sector Profile - Dion Tatow
Where your mob from:
On my mother’s side, I’m Iman and Wadja. On my Dad’s side, I’m South Sea Islander from Ambrym Island in Vanuatu.
Name an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person that has influenced your life or encouraged you to be the person you are?
My maternal grandmother – Patsy Doyle
5 things I cannot live without:
Other than air, food and water – coffee, snakes (The Natural Confectionery Co. ones, not Allen’s lol), a comfortable bed, netball and indoor plumbing.
What is your favourite flavoured ice cream?
I would have said chocolate until a couple of weeks ago, but I just discovered boysenberry. Even though I’ve never had it (or if they even make it), I reckon chocolate/boysenberry would be my favourite.
If you could have a drink with someone from history who would it be? And what drink would you have?
Depends on the definition of history?? If it is recent history, then would have to be my (deceased) partner, Josh. Gin and Tonic, Tall glass, lots of ice.
If you could be an animal what would you be?
An eagle – imagine just soaring around in the sky!!
What is your favourite season and why?
Netball season, because it’s on TV
What do you miss most about being a kid?
All the holidays
What hobby or activity that you don’t do now but think you might like to do when you retire?
Sitting under a shady tree on/near the beach, reading (rarely get the time now).
What goes through your mind when your boss asks to talk to you privately?
What song do you love to dance to?
It’s Not Right, But it’s Okay by Whitney Houston