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Valuing the Voices of Families in the Queensland Child Protection System is In the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 24th March 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> March -> Valuing the Voices of Families in the Queensland Child Protection System is In the Spotlight

Most working in child protection, regardless of their position, are well aware of the complexities that families, children and young people need to navigate on a regular basis. They are also well aware of the plethora of research and practice wisdom that speaks to the vital importance of children and young people remaining connected with their family and kin. There is no question that children and young people are most likely to thrive when they can be at home safely with their families and kin within their communities. When this isn’t possible support in staying connected is essential.

Navigating the many twists and turns associated with being involved with the child protection system for children, young people and families can be a quagmire. Most need support and guidance in this process. Whilst the CREATE Foundation has a long history of offering guidance, support and a voice to children and young people in the care system, the voice of parents has been largely stymied. In recognition of this and the need to support families through the system and the gamut of requirements asked of them, the Family Inclusion Network (FIN) was formed.

FIN responded to concerns by practitioners and parents about the lack of opportunities for parents to contribute in policy and practice discussions. Families constantly communicated a lack of fairness and opportunity to have their say. FIN was initially an unfunded activity supported by Micah Projects occasionally receiving one off project grants. Ongoing funding has now been granted to FIN to continue to develop as a network.

Family Inclusion Networks exist around Australia, with FIN Townsville being the first in Queensland. The Southeast Queensland FIN, the most recent addition to the FIN groups, funded in 2015 is an expansion of the previous FIN Brisbane. Now part of the national group and focused on the support and advocacy for parents in their region FIN SEQ, in keeping with FIN Brisbane, is auspiced by Micah Projects as a renewed and more far reaching version of the previous Brisbane network.

FIN SEQ continues as a network of parents and non-government organisations committed to ensuring that the voices of families are heard:

The Family Inclusion Network facilitates opportunities for parents and kin to be advocates for children and themselves on issues that affect their lives. It is absolutely essential that parents have a voice about the systems that impact on them and members of their family. Parents are the experts on their family and they have a wealth of knowledge about what works and doesn’t work for their family, says Coordinator Susie Edwards.

Over the past few months, parents, kin and non-government workers have come together to discuss changes to Child Protection, Domestic and Family Violence and Adoption policies. Through this active collaboration between families, services and governments, FIN SEQ aims to include the voices of families about the way in which services are delivered in Queensland. Since its commencement FIN SEQ has been developing a relationship with the Parent Leadership Training Institute in Connecticut to create opportunities for training which will enable parents to be advocates for their children and themselves.

FIN SEQ staff have been overwhelmed by the support offered by parents, practitioners and stakeholders who contribute to the running and collaboration of the organisation. In particular, those parents who share their most intimate and private details and talk openly about their experiences and hopes for the future. These combined voices are significant in their capacity to make a difference to the lives of children, young people and their families in Queensland: Parents have been really engaged and want to take part in policy and practice discussions, says Katie O’Halloran, FIN’s Parent Engagement worker.

A parent representative with a long term involvement in FIN stated: To me being involved in FIN from a parent perspective is that we have our input, we’re listened to and understood. I’ve felt from the moment I became part of FIN that parent’s voices were listened to, respected and understood. I’m proud to be a part of FIN SEQ.

The Vision of FIN Southeast Queensland is:

Valuing children | Partnering with families | Embracing diversity

For more information or to join, please contact FIN SEQ via Phone: 3013 6030, text 0438 673 094 or visit their website www.finseq.org.au

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