Joint Announcement: New Telepractice Collaborative Venture to Support Children and Families Across Australia

ACWA is very pleased to be working with other agencies on this important collaborative initiative that will bring enormous benefits to the community.

- Steve Kinmond, ACWA CEO

Now more than ever, children and families need support. Through COVID-19 there has been an increase in families experiencing a range of significant hardships, greatly reduced face-to-face supports, and a spike in deteriorating mental health and domestic violence. Virtual services break down barriers and ensure families across Australia receive critical support.

This is why the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) has established the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) COVID-19 Venture. Karitane and the Parenting Research Centre (PRC) have been funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and a group of leading NGO agencies to lead a collaboration that will advance Telepractice service delivery to provide effective support to families.

This collaboration will embed a structured approach to the adoption, adaptation, design and development of Telepractice solutions for children and families. It will build capacity to deliver quality, consistent Telepractice services to children and families, and create a virtual continuum of care and support for the sector.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, The Hon. Gareth Ward, has welcomed the Venture, describing it as an outstanding example of collaboration across agencies.

“The development of the Telepractice Framework will help vulnerable and isolated families across NSW receive the parenting support they require to manage the challenges of COVID-19," he said.

"This work is an excellent example of collaboration between Government and the non-government sector, to design and develop Telepractice solutions for families unable to access face-to-face services.”

Department of Communities and Justice Deputy Secretary, Simone Walker, has echoed these positive sentiments.

“What is incredible, is the fact that a number of programs now have state-wide reach with the use of virtual platforms,” she said.

“Services that were once only localised, are now able to reach people in different locations.

“This is a great example where the sector has come together rapidly to support each other to adapt to changing circumstances – all while continuing to provide high quality services to families most in need.

“We want to look at how we embed that flexibility and opportunity across a range of programs, and support the sector with good practice guides.”

Karitane CEO, Grainne O'Loughlin, said the organisation is excited to be leading this collaboration of quality organisations where each partner is investing to ensure consistent, scalable virtual services are available to families.

"Karitane has been delivering digital services for the past three years and is responding to the pandemic with a leading digital transformation," she said.

"We are able to share our experience, training resources, collateral and blueprint materials to support the sector."

Parenting Research Centre Policy and Practice Director, Annette Michaux, said that while there is great potential in moving to more digital methods of parenting support, it must be done in a way that fosters quality and continuous improvement in the way practitioners deliver different supports.

The organisations participating in this Venture are:

  • NSW Department of Communities and Justice
  • The Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA)
  • Karitane
  • Parenting Research Centre
  • Key Assets
  • Life Without Barriers
  • Social Futures
  • The Smith Family
  • Uniting Children, Youth and Family Services
  • My Forever Family

Download a copy of the full statement here.