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Queensland Child Protection Week Awards 2016

by PeakCare Qld on 2nd September 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> September -> Queensland Child Protection Week Awards 2016

PeakCare congratulates the 2016 Queensland Child Protection Week Award recipients. Each year numerous nominations are received and the onerous task of assessing applications and voting for the winners is undertaken. Whilst so many outstanding practitioners, policy makers, programs and individuals are nominated across the various categories, it is increasingly difficult to select winners. It is, however, heartening to see the calibre of the work being undertaken across Queensland in many organisations and industries. The inordinate amount of individual and collective endeavours determined to enhance child and family wellbeing in our state means we have much to be optimistic about.

At the Awards Ceremony and launch of Queensland Child Protection Week yesterday, Child Safety Minister, Shannon Fentiman and Queensland Child Protection Week Committee Chair Elisabeth Kobierski both spoke of the complexities of child protection work and the need for everyone in Queensland to take responsibility for child and family wellbeing. They called on all government, non-government agencies, schools, families, friends, neighbours and community members to be part of the solution in keeping children and young people safe by focusing on their wellbeing. They also congratulated the Award recipients and the many unnamed child protection advocates around Queensland who are dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and their families.

Minister Fentiman announced an exciting initiative for early intervention work. She noted funding of $1.5 million for the Queensland Government to partner with the University of Melbourne to deliver the First 1000 Days program to provide young families with the right support at the right time. This program focuses on the first 1000 days of a child’s life and the implementation in Queensland will adapt the program to incorporate a holistic service system response that includes various presenting issues such as disabilities and domestic and family violence. Research clearly demonstrates that the earlier that intervention can happen, the better the outcome for children and families. The First 1000 Days program is testament to this. Two trial locations are currently being identified.

PeakCare was pleased to chair the 2016 Queensland Child Protection Week Awards Committee. In doing so, we’ve witnessed the resounding efforts and unreserved energy of many in our sector and the wider community. As we congratulate the outstanding winners of the QCPW 2016 Awards, we also note the everyday professionals across many sectors and Queensland’s community members who hold child protection and family wellbeing as a covenant to all that they do. Witnessing the significant contribution to child wellbeing and protection in Queensland through the Awards process alone offers a heartening testament to the reality that many in Queensland see child protection as everybody’s responsibility.

Particularly heartening this year is an organisation that epitomises so much of what we all speak about when aiming to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and their families within the child protection system. We speak of community led processes utilising the expertise of communities. We have so much to learn from this year’s winners of the Addressing the Overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, Young People and Families in the Child Protection System Award.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to the following outstanding child protection and family support advocates in Queensland.

Award Category: Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Contribution to Queensland’s Children and Young People
Award Recipient: Kay McGrath


Kay McGrath is one of the founding members of Queensland Child Protection Week. She has dedicated the past 30 years to advocating for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in Queensland and has used her media profile to advance this cause. She exudes leadership in her capacity and an unwavering commitment to child protection matters. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that Queenslanders are aware of key messages of children protection. She does this through her work with Queensland Child Protection Week as well as through her profession as a Journalist and Channel 7 News reader. Her compassion and her passion for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people is a significant reason that Child Protection Week Queensland began and her on going dedication is part of the reason it exists with such strength today. As Queensland Child Protection Week celebrates its 30th anniversary, this is a prime opportunity to acknowledge Kay’s outstanding contribution and heartfelt dedication to children and young people.

Award Category: Professional (Government)
Award Recipient: Raymond Ho


Raymond is the Deputy Director/Clinical Services Program Manager of the Child and Youth Academic Unit, Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services. The services Raymond provides are critical to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in care. Raymond has been a strong and effective leader in establishing a collaborative approach between Child Safety services and Queensland Health in the Logan area to enhance the access that vulnerable children and young people have to timely mental health services. A recent review of Evolve Therapeutic Services undertaken by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services demonstrates that the collaborative approach fostered by Raymond stands out across the State. A referee for his work stated: “Raymond regularly demonstrates his belief that child protection is everyone’s responsibility. What stands out about Raymond is his enthusiasm and his considered approach. Raymond always looks at what the individual needs and then is innovative in his responses to each young person”.



Award Category: Professional (Non-Government)
Award Recipient: Kids Helpline, yourtown

Kids Helpline (KHL) is Queensland’s only free, private and confidential 24 hours a day, 7 days a week phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years. This year, KHL celebrates its 25th Birthday. KHL is incredibly proud that since 1991 they’ve been there at any time for any reason when children and young people needed to call. KHL was created to give children and young people somewhere to turn when they needed help, particularly in relation to concerns such as abuse and neglect. In 2015, KHL responded to 1035 contacts from children and young people with concerns about child abuse including domestic and family violence (DFV). Of these contacts, 63% were either experiencing current abuse or at risk of abuse. KHL partners with child protection agencies, emergency services and specialist mental health services to support positive outcomes for children’s safety and wellbeing.

A referee commented: “Kids Help Line has been operating for 25 years and over that time they have played a significant role in supporting children and young people at risk of harm or abuse. They have played a proactive role in providing children and young people with support whilst advocating on their behalf in assisting to report child protection issues and supporting young people through that process. They provide ongoing support from a counselling perspective to children and young people affected by child protection issues.”


Award Category: Regional Program
Award Recipient: Laci Christiaen, PCYC Youth Engagement Project, Elanora Police Beat

Laci Christiaen was the Youth Engagement Officer employed at Elanora Police Beat by the Police Citizens Youth Club. Laci demonstrated innovation and collaboration during her time at the Police Beat. She case managed over 150 young people in an 18 month period and developed several programs tailored to meet various complex needs within schools and the community. Her efforts in creating and facilitating outstanding programs has been beneficial. One innovative program called ‘BIF’ (Boxing Imagination Focus) is delivered to students in schools. Aimed at anger management, each session involves boxercise followed by ‘talks’ based on boxing terminology such as ‘on the ropes’. This session is aimed at providing the skills to enable clients to deal effectively with stress. Due to its success other schools are now requesting that BIF be delivered in their schools. A referee commented: “It is hard to find people as passionate as Laci, who also have the skills and qualifications she does who will work for youth worker wages. The feedback from our local stakeholders, in particular the schools, has been overwhelmingly positive.”



Award Category: Youth Participation
Award Recipient: Next Step After Care

CREATE Foundation, UnitingCare Community, Life Without Barriers, South Burnett CTC, Integrated Family and Youth Services and Youth Empowered Towards Independence collectively and individually have an extensive history supporting young people in out of home care to build independent lives. As part of their ongoing commitment to supporting young people, these partners established the landmark Next Step After Care service. This is Queensland’s first targeted service dedicated to supporting young people between 15 and 21 years of age as they move out of the care system and begin establishing independent lives. Young people were involved in the development of the Next Step program from design through to determining the outcomes the program needed to achieve.

Next Step After Care service has supported more than 700 young people. The service offers tailored and individual support, brokerage, referral and assessment, complex case advice and cultural support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Importantly the service is available 24 hours a day via the UnitingCare Community 1800 number, text and email which allows young people to call anytime. The service is provided throughout Queensland with offices in Beenleigh, Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Kingaroy, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns.

Award Category: Community Initiative
Award Recipient: The BEAR Plan, Bundaberg North State School

Implemented by the Bundaberg North Primary School Guidance Officer and School Chaplain initially in response to the 2013 Bundaberg floods, the BEAR plan is an innovative approach to assisting traumatised children to develop self-regulation skills. Through a whole of school approach, an initial awareness raising process is used whereby all students are taught four key personal calming strategies: Breathe, Exit, Ask and Relax (BEAR). This plan has been expanded into many other primary and secondary schools.
Students identified as experiencing heightened levels of emotional distress resultant from trauma, abuse, anxiety and family conflict are invited to participate in a more intensive level of the BEAR plan. Students are given a teddy bear to keep at school and are able to visit their Bear when they feel emotionally distressed. A range of products are also given to the students to reinforce the four BEAR strategies. Whether they engage with adults when they visit their bear or are just comforted by their bear is entirely up to them. According a referee: “The stand out feature is that this program assists with children being able to process their feelings and work through them. They take these strategies into high school and to their homes. Parents are embracing these strategies too.”

Award Category: Education Initiative
Award Recipient: Veronica Taylor, Senior Practitioner Bundaberg Child Safety Service Centre


Veronica has devoted her career to the practice of child protection. She commenced working as a statutory child protection worker for the Queensland government almost 30 years ago. Veronica is a role model to all staff lucky enough to work with her. Her passion for child protection, her attention to technical aspects of legislation and policy and her commitment to her own and her peers’ ongoing professional development is unsurpassed. She is frequently called on to consult on the most complex and difficult matters throughout the state. She does this with no fanfare and with a generosity that has seen many generations of child protection workers develop from her input and support. “She is one of the most respected practitioners in the state with the most exemplary career in child protection. Her mentoring and support that she has provided to countless practitioners over the years, both in the Department and in the sector, means that she passes on her skills to future generations which makes her even more of a stand out practitioner and person. There are way too many to count, the number of staff she has helped in their careers. Its hundreds or thousands” said a referee.

Award Category: Media and Communications
Award Recipient: YMCA Bundaberg Child2Child Promoting Protection Day


YMCA Bundaberg
Child2Child Promoting Protection day is testimony to the successful support and involvement of the Education Department and also the Queensland Police Service who conduct a discussion session with young people around protective behaviours and safety hand concepts. The extension to the general public would not have been possible without the expertise of ABC Wide Bay and the support of the local Rotary club. Additionally, the idea was fostered through YMCA’s membership of the Bundaberg Child Protection Week Action group which is a collaboration of committed stakeholders who aim to create events for every day of the CPW calendar. Most importantly, this media activity involved working respectfully with the most vital stakeholders, approximately 65 young people, by creating opportunities for them to take an empowered role in promoting their own right to safety in the community. “The key feature of the program is that it is so child centred. It’s not just about adults talking at children and young people. This is an outstanding program that tackles the issues from the child’s level rather than lecturing them about the topics. As a result children are able to understand safety and protection issues from their own perspective” said a referee.

Award Category: Volunteer
Award Recipient: Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland (CPPAQ) Board members


The Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland (CPPAQ) was established in 2010 with the aim of raising the profile of child protection law in Queensland and to improve professional collaboration across legal and social science professionals in Queensland. CPPAQ is a completely voluntary organisation with all Board members demonstrating exceptional commitment to enhancing understandings of child protection in developing and sustaining the operation of CPPAQ whilst working full time in busy professional roles.

This group initiated the annual Leneen Forde Public Address to coincide with Child Protection Week together with the delivery of three annual Practice Papers. It has been very successful in attracting highly esteemed professional luminaries and a range of officials and dignitaries in high office to volunteer their time to present and engage in CPPAQ addresses.

CPPAQ has been able to engage financial and in kind support from a range of organisations to promote and deliver quality, evidence based presentations. They have recorded well in excess of 2,000 attendances across the 21 papers and public addresses delivered.

Award Category: Addressing the Over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, Young People and Families in the Child Protection System
Award Recipient: Brisbane North Side Elders


The Brisbane North Side Elders formed a committee/governance group to influence key government and non-government reforms with the aim of improving the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the North Brisbane area. The region has rolled out key reforms, including Family and Child Connect Services, Intensive Family Support Services, region wide government and non-government plans, child protection legislation reviews and other initiatives. The Elders group have been significantly involved in key reforms by providing a voice to guide, challenge and highlight the ongoing disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families, communities and agencies. The Elders group has proactively formed to offer support and mentorship whilst sharing their wisdom and knowledge to influence change for the whole of Brisbane North and Queensland. In addition, the Elders work in collaboration with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services both from a family support aspect and at a systemic level to reinforce best practice.

The Brisbane North Side Elders have been working consistently across the regions in Queensland and at times New South Wales. They share membership and strong relationships with other Elders groups which enables all of the Elders to maximise successful outcomes for children, young people and their families in the community at large. Their ways of working are innovative in that the models of service delivery they contribute to always have a community response and an ownership component to ensure success for all involved.

Their work is summarised succinctly by a referee who has worked closely with them:

“What they are doing today will genuinely change life for our current children and for our next generation and then the one after. The impact of the North Brisbane Elder’s work will be significant and long lasting.”

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