Fams contributed to a diverse range of working groups with government and service providers including Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) sector meetings, peaks meetings, NSW disaster mitigation planning, and many more.
The March 2023 state election provided an opportunity for strong sector led advocacy to government. Fams developed our 2023 Election Platform informed by the 2021-2022 Annual Survey, where the sector identified what key elements to include in our Election Ask. We worked closely with our fellow peaks to ensure our message was powerful and consistent.
We asked for increased accountability (introducing a Minister for Children with a focus on the first 2,000 days and introducing an overarching framework for vulnerable children) and increasing funding by 25% across early intervention and prevention programs, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
Fams issued a media release and received coverage in the Daily Telegraph. Our platform was supported by our fellow peaks, AbSec, ACWA and NCOSS. We represented the sector at a meeting with the Minister’s Chief of Staff and Shadow Minister at the time, Kate Washington. Fams also received a formal response of support from The Greens.
A new government was elected in March 2023. Fams was in front of the Minister in June. Minister Washington expressed that she is fully committed to early intervention and prevention and looks forward to forming relationships with the sector. We also discussed the gravity of the findings from the Child Maltreatment Study and the opportunity for the new government to make a significant impact during their term.
Fams collated a submission to the Australian Government’s Early Years Strategy, in consultation with the sector. Our recommendations were in line with our Election Ask and included developing an action plan to drive collaborative approaches between levels of government, establishing disaster preparedness and recovery as a focus area and ensuring that the Strategy must align clearly with Closing the Gap’s targets.
We partnered with Youth Action to write a submission to the Human Rights Commission’s Youth Justice and Child Wellbeing Reform. The joint submission highlighted the need to address systemic disadvantages that often underlie young people’s involvement in justice and child protection systems. We recommended the need to prioritise building workforce capacity to provide specialist, culturally safe, trauma informed and evidence-based services to these children, young people, and families.
Fams submitted a comprehensive ministerial briefing to The Hon. Kate Washington MP, Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Inclusion, on the critical role of non-governmental organisations in delivering Family Preservation Services (FPS) in NSW.
We conducted extensive consultations within the sector to inform our briefing which highlighted the urgent need for clarity, consistency, and certainty in policy settings to mitigate the uncertainties surrounding Family Preservation recommissioning. Additionally, we emphasised the need to address staff turnover and capacity constraints at DCJ.
TEI Contract Amendment
In May 2023, DCJ announced a new contract amendment clause into the TEI contracts. The sector expressed concerns about the amendment, and in response we hosted a sector conversation with DCJ to provide clarity. We had 172 participants and with sector feedback, advocated to DCJ for changes in the proposed amendment clause. Our advocacy was successful, and resulted in a change in the clause, reflecting the sector’s wishes.
Mandatory Reporter Guide
Fams represented the sector in the redesign of the Mandatory Reporter Guide alongside skilled sector colleagues including child protection, education, police, health, social services, as well as representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. Fams worked to ensure that the voice of and experiences of the sector were heard in the redesign.
A key aspect of the redesign was the need for a whole of community response to child protection. This means listening to the voices of Aboriginal communities, understanding their needs and perspectives, and working together to develop solutions that are culturally appropriate and effective, moving the system from a reporting to supporting approach.