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View from the Frontline with Phil Schultz

by Peakcare Qld on 30th July 2014

Home -> Articles -> 2014 -> July -> View from the Frontline with Phil Schultz

An Interview with Phil Schultz

What is your current position/role?

"I am the Queensland and Northern Territory State Director for Mission Australia (MA). MA began in Brisbane 155 years ago and has grown to become one of the nation’s largest community service organisations.

"I oversee 715 employees and 30 volunteers in the delivery of more than one hundred programs across Qld and the NT. These services are heavily focused on support for children, young people and their families.

"MA works largely in disadvantaged communities, often in remote locations, and we believe strongly in the benefits of early intervention and prevention, as well as targeted programs to help young people avoid being caught up in the justice system. I ensure the programs are working effectively for our clients and both meet and exceed all risk and compliance standards from funding bodies. I also work with other industry providers and peak bodies to consistently advocate for the needs of disadvantaged children and families."

For how long have you worked within the child protection system? In what kinds of positions or roles have you previously worked.

"I have worked in and around the system for the past 16 years, commencing with MA in Brisbane as a Team Leader in 1998.

"One of the most satisfying positions for me leading into my current role was as General Manager for MA’s employment programs in Qld and the NT.

"I saw first hand the impact of joblessness on individuals and families, and the affect this has on children. I have always taken a special interest in the impacts of unemployment in the many Indigenous communities in which MA has worked.

"My greatest source of pride has been the efforts I made with my team to lead and develop MA’s position as a significant provider of Indigenous Employment Program (IEP) in Australia."

What motivates or inspires you in working with or on behalf of children, young people and/or families?

"The experiences of children and families going through difficult times, especially indigenous children, motivate me every day.

"It is a privilege to be in a job where I can actually help deliver support and create change. As children we dream of what we can be and as we get older we then want the best possible life for our own children.

"I want to see all children get the best possible start in life. This foundation will ensure that one day they will provide for and guide their own children to a fulfilling life.

"If we empower an individual we can change a nation."

Do you think outcomes will improve for children, young people and families in Queensland as we commence implementing reforms recommended by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry?

"It is very pleasing that the Queensland Child protection Commission of Inquiry recognised the need for more targeted early intervention and prevention programs. While there is still an absolute need for support and care of children and families who have already entered the child protection system, as a community we need to be in a position to respond early, quickly and appropriately when extra help and intervention is required.

"As an example, we have seen great success in programs that address problems before they become more serious. In SEQ our Referral and Active Intervention programs are working by providing intensive family support for vulnerable children and in South Brisbane our Family Assist programs target children who are experiencing neglect and are at risk of entering the child protection system."

What do you think are the greatest challenges that we face in the future in implementing these reforms well?

"Designing an early intervention prevention system that is flexible enough to work in all communities across Queensland, especially indigenous communities in remote locations.

"I am fortunate to be part of the Child and Family Reform Stakeholder Advisory Group that is partnering with Government through the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. This has been an outstanding recognition from Government that they cannot do this alone and are actively seeking the knowledge and skills of front line NGOs.

"The most pleasing part for me is the commitment of the community organisations involved that we are there from the perspective of having the best possible system and process for the most vulnerable children and families in our communities.

“These sorts of partnerships are the reason I am confident that we are making lasting improvements.”