Children and Youth Services

Multi-agency collaboration through the Western Child Family Assessment and Referral Service

167 clients were seen in Western CFARN. 36% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 16% culturally and linguistically diverse. 59% of clients had successful outcomes.  

Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA) was selected to pilot the Western Child Family Assessment and Referral Service (WCFARN) in 2018, as one of four CFARN programs funded as part of the South Australian Government’s child protection reform. 

WCFARN service is a pilot program designed to provide a coordinated and targeted multi-agency response to families with a child in the first 1,000 days of their life (from prenatal to 24 months), where significant risks to the unborn child or high risk infant have been identified and are notifiable to the Child Abuse Report Line. The aim is to circumvent statutory child protection interventions by addressing the social factors perpetuating risk, strengthening parent and family capacity and enhancing physical safety and emotional security for the infant and/or child. 

An integral part of the pilot has been creating cultural change in the child protection and wider community services sectorsWCFARN has taken a lead in supporting this change through initiating and facilitating: 

  • The implementation of a standardised service scoping procedure to ensure all referrals involve workers from regional government and non-government agencies supporting each family 
  • Direct referrals into WCFARN from members of the Aboriginal community in the West 
  • Family-led decision making 
  • Joint case management, unified multiagency care plans and case conferencing  
  • A multi-agency Local Partnership Group that supports inter-agency collaboration and innovation to manage referrals and reduce duplication of work. 

WCFARN’s success has relied on high-level executive support behind the innovations in joinedup service delivery, resulting in improved mental health outcomes for vulnerable infant and children. 

Funding acknowledgement: WCFARN is an initiative of the South Australian Government. 

 ‘Dense, inter-dependent connections: collaborative approaches require participants to develop interdependent connections with multiple partners rather than remaining isolated in ‘silos’. – Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2009

‘We don’t live our problems as single issues, but too often our services are oriented to single problems.’ – Claire Ralfs PhD, CEO 

Together 4 Kids

360 clients were seen in the Together4Kids program

Together4Kids (T4K) is a free, child-focused support service tailored to babies and children up to the age of 12 who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness and family and domestic violence.  Read more about Together4Kids… 

Resources to support families and children living in motels
W
omen and children escaping family and domestic violence are placed in budget motels, often for despairingly extended periods. Together4Kids is able to support families at this time through some simple but effective activities and immediately useful tools. Every family visited receives a motel support bag that includes the Together4Kids booklet Colour Me Calm, as well as an age-appropriate storybook and toy 

The Together4Kids Through Your Child’s Eyes booklet is also provided for parents. It offers information on how to discuss things from their child’s perspective and support to attend to emotional/ relationship stability and regulation for both the parent and the child, as well as ideas and strategies for maintaining emotional safety, building on parents’ ability to focus on their children and to comfort and reassure them Through fun and light activities, recognition is given to the likely presence of trauma due to the insecurity of moving from place to placeTips and strategies for maintaining routines in time of uncertainty and temporary, foreign and/ or unsuitable accommodation are also given. This initial contact is important because, once families have been appropriately housed, the family can be given a warm referral into the Together4Kids therapeutic service.

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“Thank you so much, it looks like he had fun today at last.” – parent of an 8-year-old client.

The Child Focused Support Service (Together4Kids) is funded by the Government of South Australia Department of Human Services through the National Affordable Housing Agreement and National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. 

Together for Kids focused on building and maintaining strong partnerships

Given the circumstances of homelessness, clients can have a broad range of needs beyond therapeutic needs.  These children and families are best supported by a village of services working together well and doing partnerships the ‘right-way’ Together4Kids (T4K) recognises that the assistance it contributes is complimentary to the essential support provided by other services. 

T4K has been strengthening its right-way partnerships with Nunga Mi:Minar and Coolock House, both run by Centacare, over the past year.  Nunga Mi:Minar is a family and domestic violence service for Aboriginal women in Adelaide. Coolock House offers supported accommodation to young women who are pregnant or parenting and homeless or at risk of homelessness. Specialist therapeutic staff from T4K work from each site, providing fun, arts-based early intervention activities to help children through difficult life experiences. The staff work restoratively by ‘doing with’ clients, acknowledging they are in a high-challenge environment that requires equivalently high levels of support.

We’re proud of our learning and our right-way partnerships”  

The partnerships are holding strong because each organisation shares a common belief that all women have the right to be safe, healthy and happy, and that the voices of children and families must be privileged and elevated in working relationships.  All workers have a deep understanding of the nature and effects of intergenerational trauma, and a mutual respect for each other’s roles in facilitating support and healing.  Staff use creativity to keep families engaged and connected, a critical platform to support families navigate and access mainstream services.  

The Child Focused Support Service (Together4Kids) is funded by the Government of South Australia Department of Human Services through the National Affordable Housing Agreement and National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. 

Healing and connection in the right place, at the right time 

Knowledge of, and access to, a broad range of support opportunities is important for parents who have experienced homelessness, family violence or other injusticesTogether4Kids’ The Garden Program and First Touch Infant Massage are therapeutically focused, evidence-informed programs that have successfully engaged families experiencing difficulties with their parenting skills or environment.  The programs focus on strengths, growing carers’ capacities to notice their child’s natural curiosity and desire to connect with the people closest to them and to enjoy opportunities for interaction, bonding, attachment and understanding between themselves and their children.  This contrasts with attempting to correct – and therefore focus on – parental/caregiver deficits.  

“After having to relocate, Lisa travelled more than 80km each week with her children to attend the program, fostering friendships along the way.” 

The programs are delivered through a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, play-based framework within the home and community settings, making them transportable, tailorable and attractive to children.  Accessible and safe entry opportunities are particularly helpful where there are child protection concerns; during reunification of a parent to their infant from out of home care; for structured access visits and for intensive targeted work with vulnerable parents and their infant at home. 

Parents who have completed the programs demonstrate increased reflective capacity, strengthened support networks and improved parenting confidence.   

Professional development pathways are offered to deliver both programs. The Infant Massage Instructor Certificate is a Nationally Accredited Qualification. The Garden Facilitator and Practitioner Manuals describe the theories that underpin the therapeutic intent of The Garden program, and provide a practical guide to setting up, delivering and evaluating each session.  

The Child Focused Support Service (Together4Kids) is funded by the Government of South Australia Department of Human Services through the National Affordable Housing Agreement and National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. 

Children and Parenting Service 

556 clients were seen in Children and Parenting Service

‘Circles of Security’ for mothers separated from their children in the Adelaide Women’s Prison

Over the year, the Children and Parenting Service (CAPS) provided 7-week ‘Circle of Security’ programs for three groups of over 40 mothers who were separated from their children by being incarcerated in Adelaide Women’s Prison. The women were committed to finding ways to keep a loving connection with their children, as well as wanting to learn more about how to provide an environment of safety and security when they were able to return and care for them. Participants actively engaged in the learning process and group discussions regarding their vital parenting role. The groups provided a space for learning and sharing from their lived experience.

In response to ongoing positive feedback, CAPS also provided 1:1 parenting support for clients referred by the prison Nurse Unit; two or three women have been supported fortnightly with their parenting capacity and confidence. Conversations may include how mothers can see their own actions through their child’s eyes, stay connected and delight in their children while in prison, as well as learning about evidence based, culturally appropriate ways to recognise, acknowledge and respond to their children’s emotional expression. CAPS also provided continuity of service to women and their children post prison.

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information. 

Language = Meaning = Implementation 

Last year, Children and Parenting Support (CAPS) were proud to offer the first parenting course in Adelaide delivered in a Japanese language over a 9-week period. The course was advertised through the Japanese Language School, Japanese playgroups and local Japanese community groups. 11 Japanese mothers actively engaged in the relationship-based parenting program which utilised a Japanese version of the Circle of Security video and materials, provided by the Circle of Security International.  

The mothers reported that the program being delivered in their first language was very helpful to them fully understanding the contents, and therefore allowed them to participate more deeply in the discussions. Many of the mothers shared that they were not confident to attend a mainstream parenting group due to language barriers. 

The group provided a safe space to discuss, ponder and provide peer support in relation to cultural differences in parenting between Japanese and Australian cultures/systems. Participants shared their experiences of parenting and migration and found common ground in their challenges and concerns raising child/ren far from their home country and family/friends.  

All attendees provided positive feedback on their learning and commented that they found the skills and knowledge gained through the program very useful to their everyday interactions with their children. The mothers were keen to learn more about parenting and attend any other parenting courses available in Japanese. 

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information. 

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“[participants] found common ground in their challenges and concerns raising child/ren far from their home country and family/friends”

Communities for Children

Community collaboration to build and strengthen relationships

Communities for Children (CfC) funds programs and projects that are locally driven, focus on collaboration and aim to increase parenting capacity, strengthen family relationships, build community and provide parenting education and support.  

256 clients participated in CfC programs and projects such as Infant Massage Cue Based Attachment program; The Garden Group; Circus Gig – therapeutic circus skills program in partnership with CirKids; AMPED – Aboriginal-led therapeutic music-based program; Co-Parenting Communication Course; Kaurna Language Reclamation Project in partnership with Kuma Kaaru; Drum Beat; Bringing up Great Kids and Circle of Security.

Funding acknowledgement: Relationships Australia South Australia is a Community Partner of Anglicare in Onkaparinga and Playford and Salvation Army in Salisbury.
These organisations facilitate the funds for the Australian Government Department of Social Services.  

Children’s Post Separation Services

 Helping children and parents navigate post separation and reconnect 

Growing partnerships with schools and strengthening community connections

iKiDs provided support to 249 families over the year. A focus on growing the service through new partnerships with schools enabled facilitation of a significant program of educational and therapeutic group work in school communities.  Community connections were also strengthened through the Reclink South Australia partnership. With Reclink South Australia’s support, iKiDs organised group activities that included school holiday excursions to places such as the Adelaide Zoo.

These groups provided a space for children with similar experiences of parental separation to share their stories, knowledge and coping strategies and to build relationships with each other. The groups enabled peer support, providing a space for children to learn from each other, recognise cultural connections and discover that other children were living with similar challenges and had experienced similar achievements.

iKiDs (Supporting Children & Young People After Separation) is funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and administered by the Department of Social Services under the Families and Children Programme.

Taking the conflict out of separating

Mary initiated separation in the context of family and domestic violence and Tom’s difficulties with alcohol and gambling. Mary and Tom have two daughters; Lisa, aged 10 and Jane, aged 9.

Post separation, Mary and Tom experienced ongoing conflict. The children were reluctant to see their father and had been angry and fearful of him; Mary was reluctant to support contact.  Tom made an application to Family Court, which ordered Mary to register with the Children’s Contact Service (CCS) for supervised contact.

CCS Involvement

Tom’s focus on the issue of contact related to his perception that Mary had deliberately alienated the children from him.  He had not seen his daughters in 18 months and, in his view, Mary had dragged him through Family Court, leaving him broke.  Working with CCS, he acknowledged that he had been drinking and gambling; he also said that this was in the past.

At the first CCS visit, the girls wrote letters to Tom and refused to see him.  Tom was extremely upset.  He attributed the refusal to parental alienation caused by Mary.  After consultation with the CCS Supervisor, it was decided that Tom be invited to engage in the iKiDS service and to receive the letters in a space where he could reflect on the content with support from a professional. Mary was informed of the plan and asked to consider counselling for the children, if they wanted.

iKiDs Involvement

In a safe space with the iKiDs counsellor, Tom read his children’s letters.  The experience enabled a shift in attribution and behaviour.  He acknowledged his past behaviours and wrote a letter to his children.  In his letter, he talked about his love for the children, his need to reconnect and apologised for blaming Mary.  He accepted the children’s decision and offered to wait until they were ready for contact.  Jane and Lisa attended iKiDs counselling.  This facilitated supervised contact between Tom and Jane at CCS, and eventually developed into unsupervised visits. Tom and Mary have also agreed to attend Family Dispute Resolution to finalise a parenting agreement without involving Family Court.

SHE helps girls smile

A school-based program for girls builds positive sense of self

A primary school-based program has been developed by the Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) to build girls’ emotional literacy, positive sense of self, social skills, body safety, kindness and assertiveness through a focussed topic each week.

The program, called SHE, ran for six weeks, with a take-home goodie bag at the end of the program that related to weekly calming activities that had been part of the program. Evaluation forms completed by children at Blakeview Primary, Gawler Primary, Gawler District and Two Wells Primary have shown a positive impact.

FMHSS is an innovative and flexible early intervention service for 0-18 years old who are at risk of an emerging mental health issue. The program is currently being prepared for assessment as an evidence-based program, with the support of our Research and Evaluation team.

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information.

Future Youth Initiative

Students working towards an independent and hopeful future

Future Youth Initiative (FYI) supported 400 young people aged 12-21 across metropolitan Adelaide in 2018/19. FYI offers students a unique opportunity to look to the future with hope and acceptance, helping them to work towards independence and social and emotional wellbeing. The focus is on young people who are: enrolled in school but at risk of leaving early; attending school but not actively participating in education or about to leave school; or have left and are not pursuing employment or further education.

Students can choose from a range of supports including case management, enrolment in a variety of skills learning programs and/or mentoring and teacher support for SACE topics or nationally recognised training, such as the Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.

FYI runs three not-for-profit cafés and a coffee cart. These social enterprise ventures support the development of hospitality skills, provide workplace mentoring and create a safe space for students to develop pro-social skills, community connection and build self-esteem. Thanks to CMV Foundation and Brayco, FYI is the proud owner of an industry standard coffee machine and a professional looking coffee cart, providing students with an opportunity to perfect their barista skills.

“Having a case manager to meet with each week. Talking and catching up and knowing there is someone I can talk to who will listen and help me.” –  Young Person

 

“He has become far more independent and is motivated to get up and get himself to and from FYI which is a huge turnaround from where he was last year!” – Parent

 

“I truly did not believe I could finish my education before I started FLO” – Young Person

 

“It’s helped me be more confident and want to go to school more.” – Young Person

140 FYI students participated in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. This non-competitive Award allows participants to set their own goals and work at their own pace. In 2019, the Award concluded at Monarto Zoo where participants spent two days camping and living as independently as possible.

135 young people accessing FYI provided feedback about the impact of the service on different aspects of their lives. Results showed FYI had a particularly large positive impact on:

  • confidence in continuing with school or other training
  • belief in themselves and their abilities

47 parents and 12 teachers provided feedback, with 91% of parents and 100% of teachers stating they were satisfied with FYI. Young people and parents agreed that quality support from FYI Case Workers was a key driver of the positive outcomes experienced by young people.

Funding acknowledgement: Department of Education

“My child feels understood and, thanks to his caseworker, considered. He has never experienced this before within an educational setting. I see the positivity from this grow and spill out into this experience of school overall. It has also given him the support and space to want to engage in his learning and has helped him mature in how he approaches his learning, like nothing else has so far.” – Parent

Gambling Help – Young people in focus

‘Winning’ program draws attention to the dangers of online sports betting

A South Australian initiative for young people at heightened risk from sports betting advertising and online gambling

During Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2018, the Relationships Australia South Australia Gambling Help Service (RASA GHS) produced a short animation called ‘Winning?’, designed to increase awareness among young people of the potential dangers of online sports betting. The animation was launched in a Facebook Live event hosted by Adelaide news presenter Will McDonald and included a live interview with ex-football star, award-winning radio announcer and national TV host Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald who described his lived experience of gambling harm.

Marketing through an online event enabled RASA to reach far greater numbers of people; an ad placed on Facebook in the lead-up to the event reached 73,500 young men between aged 13 and 24 and the event itself reached 1,114 individuals, 161 of whom engaged with the content. Posting subsequent to the launch and offering further opportunities to view the animation reached 1,152 individuals, 60 of whom engaged.

Based on the animation, the RASA GHS team created an education pack for anyone working with young people. This includes session plans and resources required for facilitating three 15-minute activities. The activities guide participants to further reflect on myths about gambling perpetuated in the community (e.g. “Gambling is a good way to make money!”); the problematic messages of sports betting ads and how the subject betting behaviour might be raised constructively by a concerned person with a loved one or a friend. This resource will support RASA’s preventative and early intervention efforts in years to come.

“Well done to RASA. It’s wonderful to hear from an ex gambler that recovery is possible…”

Gambling Help Services is funded through the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund, a joint initiative of the Australian Hotels Association (SA Branch),
Clubs SA, Adelaide Casino and the Government of South Australia.  

PEACE partnership with schools

Helping parents help their children 

“I never knew the games on phones could be so risky, grateful for the information we got “ 

 

“We learned about ways to bring in both cultures together without giving up on either” 

peace-main-cmyk-col

Parents of high school children from a multicultural background were offered a discussion and education program focusing on ‘Parenting in a new culture: Raising issues of gaming with young people’ and ‘Communication between parents and children about seeking help’.

PEACE Multicultural Service collaborated with Parafield Gardens and Salisbury High Schools, who have a high number of multicultural students enrolled, to identify and connect with parents. Four programs were delivered, with 90 parents attending. Feedback from parents suggested the two core information areas of communication and gambling were particularly well targeted and useful.

Funding acknowledgement: Funded by Gambling Help Services is funded through the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund, a joint initiative of the Australian Hotels Association (SA Branch), Clubs SA, Adelaide Casino and the Government of South Australia.