ACWA’s core responsibility is to advocate for systemic changes to improve the lives of vulnerable children, young people and their families. Our strategic plan emphasises the need for ACWA to work collaboratively with government and non-government stakeholders in seeking to achieve positive outcomes for the most vulnerable in our community. Over the past six months, ACWA has been focusing our attention on activities that align with this objective.
For example, we have been working with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and AbSec on establishing a joint NGO/Government team tasked with identifying and resolving critical issues associated with the Permanency Support Program and other reforms. Ongoing consultation with NGOs and other stakeholders will be a critical component of this work. With this in mind, we will be releasing within the next few weeks a proposed list of focus areas for the team, which are outlined in the attached document. The draft list includes, but is not limited to, proposed work on:
- Addressing issues related to the roll-out of ChildStory and expanding the efficient usage of this system across the sector
- Identifying and promoting what constitutes good practice in connection with matters arising before, during and after care proceedings (this work will involve the Children’s Court, DJC, the NGO sector and other stakeholders)
- Improving processes relating to placement referrals, including the uptake of referrals
- Improving the efficiency of carer recruitment and authorisation processes, and examining ways in which carers can be better supported
- Enhancing data capture, and related analysis, to drive practice and system improvement
- Identifying and promoting good practice involving the participation of children and young people (and clients more generally) in relation to the services that they receive.
I would welcome your feedback on the above list to guide us in settling the team’s work.
It is important to stress that the process for determining the list of priority areas is but one of the important governance and communication issues that will need to be addressed in order for this initiative to represent a genuinely collaborative and effective exercise between the NGO and government sector. Without the ‘buy in’ of the NGO sector, as well as other stakeholder groups, the work of the team will be significantly restricted in what it can deliver. For this reason, please don’t hesitate to contact me if there are any aspects of this initiative that you would like to discuss: (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0409 782 614).
While on the topic of systemic change, ACWA has been involved in discussions with government stakeholders around securing an active role for the NGO sector in helping to deliver the Their Futures Matter reforms, particularly in relation to the work associated with placed-based system transformation. Once again, we believe that strong ‘buy in’ from NGOs will be critical to enhancing the outcomes that can be delivered under this broad system reform initiative.
ACWA has also been funded to work with AbSec and DCJ on developing strategies to reduce the number of children and young people in Alternative Care Arrangements (ACAs). As part of this work, data on children and young people in current ACA arrangements is being thoroughly analysed and coalface discussions about the circumstances of 86 individual children and young people in ACA placements have already taken place. While the focus will continue to remain on individual children, there are systemic and structural issues contributing to ACA arrangements where both short and medium term solutions need to be found. Already, as many as 30 member agencies have contributed to identifying these issues, together with possible solutions. Some of the options being explored include: creative and flexible use of individualised funding; other care environments with accredited providers; and clearer and more streamlined pathways in connection with the employment of therapeutic care options. Formal communication to increase clarity around contracting issues, as well as clear messaging regarding the availability of individualised packaging, are critical and ACWA is keen to see these issues addressed as a priority.
ACWA is also seeking to change the way that we deliver and plan our training. Under our new approach, there will be ongoing and targeted consultation with members, as well as government and other NGO stakeholders, aimed at ensuring that our training products are more effectively supporting and enhancing service delivery. So we can be more responsive and flexible in meeting the demands of the sector for our training products, we are also moving towards a contract-based staffing model.
ACWA is also eager to work with Permanency Support Program (PSP) training provider Curijo, along with DCJ and AbSec, to develop a workforce needs analysis plan and implementation strategy, which will ensure our sector is equipped with the skills needed to effectively carry out the critical work required under the PSP.
In the coming months, ACWA is planning to host a series of fora exploring critical issues currently affecting the sector. The topics that are set to be examined will include: carer remuneration; the National Redress Scheme and its insurance implications, and; best practice approaches to engaging with, and meaningfully involving, clients, including vulnerable parents and children and young people in care.
I look forward to seeing you at ACWA’s AGM on October 31.
All the best