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Working for a better future and outcomes for our children

News

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.

 

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.

Jess Mcardle
Ph: 0428 419 176
Email: qldfamilymatters@qatsicpp.com.au

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.

Website: familymatters.org.au

Queensland Family Matters Campaign Coordinator contact details:
Jess Mcardle
M: 0428 419 176
qldfamilymatters@qatsicpp.com.au

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?
Redundancy payment????

What song do you love to dance to?
It’s Not Right, But it’s Okay by Whitney Houston

The Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS) funded a trial of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Led Decision Making (ATSIFLDM) from April 2016 to August 2017. Final report details are soon to be released from implementation partner, SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, and independent evaluation partners Winangali Pty Ltd and Ipsos Australia.

The trials sought to empower families and communities to lead decision making in regard to their children and to keep children connected to family, community and culture. Four service providers across Queensland trialled ATSIFLDM for families at risk of entering, or already involved in, the statutory child protection system.

Services involved included Kummara Inc. Family Support Service in Ipswich, Aboriginal and Islander Development and Recreational Women’s Association (AIDRWA) in Mt Isa, Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd. in Cairns and Port Kennedy Association in the Torres Strait.

During the trials, 88 families were supported at three different stages along the child protection continuum. This included early intervention, investigation and assessment, and families on child protection orders.

The Queensland Government has committed to invest in family led decision making for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through the Changing Tracks Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-2019.

Future statewide roll out of ATSIFLDM is supported by recent amendments to the Queensland Child Protection Act that require independent Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander entities to facilitate family participation in decision making.

On a national level, the Family Matters campaign advocates for ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations participate in and have control over decisions that affect their children, which ATSIFLDM provides a vehicle to achieve.

Through legislative amendments, state and national initiatives such as Changing Tracks and Family Matters, change can be achieved to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia’s child protection systems and to instead see children and young people grow up safe and healthy at home, on country, in community, with family and proud of who they are.

The Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School (the Murri School)

The Murri School is a coeducational non-government school established in 1986. The school is Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-controlled. The Murri School was originally a primary school but it now educates children from prep to grade 12. With a proven track record in assisting students to attend and remain in school, the school aims to promote the development of Indigenous students as independent and skilled people who are culturally, morally and socially responsible; employable, capable of self-fulfilment and of contributing to society.

The School adopts a holistic approach that supports the educational, health, social and emotional wellbeing, and cultural development of children and their families. The Murri School provides children with a safe space where they can (re) connect with education and takes an approach which considers the whole child – their spiritual, health, emotional and educational needs in the context of their families, their school and the wider community.

Since 2012, the School has implemented a trauma informed approach to responding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families. This Healing Initiative has demonstrated its ability to both identify service gaps and respond in flexible, child-centric, culturally safe ways to engage highly marginalised families in processes of healing and change. An evaluation in 2014 proposed that sustained funding should be obtained for the Healing Initiative as a core component of a wider “community of care” including family support and community development initiatives for vulnerable children, families and communities at the Murri School.

The 2014 evaluation found that the Healing Initiative program had successfully met its short-term outcomes regarding participation, safety, enhanced care and engagement in healing activities. The analysis also identified that the initiative had resulted in improvements in the following longer-term goals and national outcomes for the intergenerational trauma initiatives auspiced by the Healing Foundation (see Evaluation p.13):

• Improved social and emotional wellbeing of young people
• Improved resiliency of young people
• Improved relationships between young people and their families
• Improved service coordination for young people and their families.

It is noted that the implementation of trauma and healing informed approaches including through government resourcing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop their own healing approaches, and the development of a trauma informed child and family service workforce is one of four key evidence-based strategies required to drive the reduction in the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia’s child protection systems and advance the safety and wellbeing of children (see Family Matters Discussion Paper, February 2016). The other three key strategies highlighted in the Discussion Paper are: increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in decision-making, supporting families and communities to stay together, and embedding accountability.

Further, Deloitte Access Economics conducted a cost benefit analysis of the school’s operation in 2016 (see Attachment D). Findings included: improved educational attainment, improved mental health, less contact with the child protection system, and lower contact with the justice system. Tangible benefits attributed to the Murri School equalled $6.2 million or approximately $27,009 per student. The largest benefit identified was the savings from decreasing usage of child protection services ($17,105/student) followed by the improvements in mental health ($4,425/student). Other potential reductions have been identified which are located in page V Executive Summary.

To view the Deloitte Access Economics cost benefit analysis report go to this link

To view the evaluation report by the Healing Foundation 2014, go to this link

I feel very fortunate to be part of the Family Support Team at the Murri School and contribute to the overall work of the School. The team has myself as Coordinator, 2 full-time Family Support Workers in Lenny Cresdee and Natalie Low and a part-time Psychologist Sally Frye. The Family Support work at the school is high volume face to face contact work on a daily basis. The Team is accessible to the students and families every day of the school semester Family Support is also based in a large, comfortable and welcoming space at the school for students and families. The staff also assist with participation in Family Healing Camps that are run over the school holidays

The Family Support staff work from a trauma based model – the crux of which is providing safety and stability to young people so that they can develop trust and in turn have the ability to form healthy relationships across their lives – both within and outside of the school. This process helps with their overall healing. The resilience of the students and families we see is evident on a daily basis and this combined with the overall sensitivity of the staff positions the Murri School well.

Article provided by Alf Davis, Family Support Team Coordinator, from the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School (Murri School) at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane.

The R.E. program is based on Thursday Island and is part of Port Kennedy Association Incorporated. The R.E. Team provides services to all Islands within the Torres Strait Islands Region. Whilst based on TI the region comprises neighboring islands which are separated by 2,500 square kilometers of water, which incorporates such a diverse cultural background and influence.

Find out more

Family Matters is the National Campaign for eliminating the disproportionate representation of our children in statutory child protection systems in Australia. As the national Co-Chair, I am proud to report that the first half of 2017 has seen significant momentum for the Family Matters campaign, with a focus on collaborative political strategy, mobilisation of local champions for change and a very successful inaugural National Week of Action in May.

QATSICPP took the lead in promoting Family Matters and securing QLD Government Support for foundational campaign activities such as publishing the Queensland Family Matters Position Paper, the inaugural Queensland Family Matters Forum hosted in August 2016 and the Post Forum Report. The Family Matters Leadership Group in Queensland, co-chaired by Aunty Rachel Atkinson and Dr Gerald Featherstone, was pleased to celebrate the launch of an Australian first: a 20-year strategy to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care, Our Way, along with Changing Tracks, a three-year action plan authored in partnership with the Queensland Family Matters Leadership Group, but importantly, drawn from the solutions and recommendations put forward by OUR sector, community leaders – during the Family Matters Forum.The Family Matters Statement of Commitment continues to garner support. Current support includes:

  • 102 organisations
  • 32 state, territory and federal parliamentarians
  • 9 children’s commissioners, advocates and guardians.

In Queensland, we 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 through the National Campaign Coordinator, Fleur Smith.

To find out more about Family Matters, please click here.

 

  • Child Protection Environment

    53.7%

    of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were placed with a kinship or Indigenous carer.
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak

    69,200

    There are 69,200 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children / young people in Queensland.