What’s New at ACWA: April 2023

Welcome to our April 2023 edition ‘What's New at ACWA’!

We hope you enjoy our latest update, which includes information about our NSW Election Advocacy work, 2023 Step by Step Foster Carer Assessment Tool, update to the Children's Court Practice Note 17, and 'Save the Date' for a Good Practice Symposium on Supporting Children, Young People and Families living with a Disability, as well as training and event news!

2023 NSW State Election Advocacy

ACWA congratulates the Labor Party on its State Election success and welcomes the opportunity to work with the incoming Government over the new term.

In the election lead-up, ACWA released our 2023 State Election Advocacy Platform, reflecting priority areas for action identified by our Board and members, and aligning with the election messaging of our fellow peaks, where our interests coincide.

We then undertook 10 days of action, during which we highlighted one 'Priority' daily through direct correspondence to all NSW candidates as well as via social media promotion. Engagement with our campaign was strong, with a number of thoughtful and supportive responses received from candidates across the political spectrum. This is very encouraging and we now have a list of politicians with whom we can further engage with confidence in seeking support for our advocacy efforts.

ACWA's CEO and Board members also engaged proactively in constructive discussions with both the Minister's Office and the Shadow Minister about our election priorities.

Thank you to our members for actively supporting ACWA's campaign and we look forward to working with the new Government to drive high-quality practice that improves the lives of the children and families we serve.

Release of new edition of Step by Step NSW 2023 Foster Carer Assessment Tool

ACWA is proud to announce the release of the latest version of the tool to assess potential foster carers in NSW. This new 2023 edition supersedes the Step by Step NSW 2016 Foster Carer Assessment Tool.

From today, all new assessors will be trained in this 2023 version, and existing Step by Step users will have until 31 December 2023 to adopt the updated edition. All existing Step by Step users will be notified once the self-paced briefing package that will enable them to update to the new version becomes available.

The changes made to Step by Step NSW 2023 are designed to make it a more efficient tool and provide additional practice guidance that will support assessors to make sound recommendations about the suitability of foster care applicants.

One specific change has been made to strengthen the cultural safety of Aboriginal children who are in foster care. ACWA is committed to working towards best practice of Aboriginal children being cared for by Aboriginal family, kin or carers. Whilst we work towards best practice, Step by Step NSW 2023 requires that ALL applicants be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal culture, so that those who are suitable to care for Aboriginal children are identified. This will also enable agencies to identify those who are not yet suitable, and to work with those carers to build their capacity to engage with Aboriginal people and communities so that they can foster connection and positive identity for Aboriginal children who may be placed in their care.

Assessing all applicants’ suitability to care for Aboriginal children will also support agencies to meet their contractual obligations regarding the care of Aboriginal children. Additionally, agencies will be able to demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding children’s Aboriginal identity and connection to culture, family and community.

For more details of assessing the suitability to care for Aboriginal children, including who can conduct that assessment, read ‘Step by Step 2023 – Assessing suitability to care for Aboriginal children in foster care’.

For information about Step by Step NSW 2023 Foster Carer Assessment Tool, contact:
Tracie Fleming, Louise Mulroney or Jo Roach, at info@stepbystep.org.au

New Children's Court Practice Note regarding PSP Provider involvement in Court Proceedings

On 9 January 2023, the Children’s Court of NSW introduced Practice Note 17: Designated Agencies in Children’s Court care proceedings. The Practice Note was updated on 17 March 2023.

This Practice Note will better support PSP providers to provide information to the Court, contribute to court proceedings and access filed evidence.

Furthermore, it will support the commitment and continued collaboration of providers in making sure courts have the right information to make important care and life decisions for children in out-of-home care.

For more information on the Practice Note and related materials, click here.

Save the Date—Good Practice Symposium: Supporting Vulnerable Children, Young People & Families Living with Disability

Over the past two and a half years, ACWA has led a project focused on enhancing outcomes for children and young people in out of home care living with disability. Initially the project focused on engaging with providers to understand the challenges they experienced and to seek their views on opportunities to improve practice and systems.

In response to ACWA’s report on this stage of work, an action plan was developed in collaboration with DCJ and AbSec with particular focus on building sector capacity and advocating for the needs of this group of children and young people. A significant number of activities and initiatives have been undertaken over the past two years and we are starting to see real change. But there is still more to do.

Purpose of the Good Practice Symposium

This Symposium aims to bring together a diverse range of practitioners and experts from across NSW to identify innovative emerging practice and further explore ongoing challenges.

With the benefit of expert presenters and facilitators, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about innovative models and practices that are being developed and implemented by some agencies and that appear to be creating good outcomes
  • Understand further research and development that is underway and how they may be able to contribute to and benefit from that research agenda
  • Collectively problem solve and share ideas and develop networks to support a positive response to ongoing challenges in this area
  • Reflect on opportunities to leverage these insights in their own practice and across their organisation.

Target Audience

The symposium will be of value to Case Workers / Case Managers, Youth Workers, Therapeutic Specialists, ITC House Managers, ITC-SD staff, early intervention specialists, Managers, leaders and other team members from across the continuum of care from NGOs and DCJ.


  • Date – 7 June 2023
  • Time – 8.45am to 3.45pm
  • Venue – Rydges Hotel, Sydney International Airport (provides good transport access)

For program details and registration information, please contact Lyn Ainsworth lyn@acwa.asn.au

CCWT training update

We can come to you!

Did you know that CCWT can bring the training to you? In person training is a great way to bring your team together, share ideas and network. Organisations also have the option for ACWA to deliver online training specifically for you. Please contact us at ccwt@acwa.asn.au to make enquiries.

New monthly CCWT News

ACWA has just released its first in a series of monthly CCWT newsletters sharing details about our upcoming courses, training and events, a feature story, and a trainer profile so you can get to know who is leading our workshops! Click the here to see the March newsletter and subscribe to receive future updates!

Find us on Socials

Did you know that you can find ACWA on Linked In and Facebook? Visit and follow our profile pages to receive latest updates on training, events, sector updates, and more!

ACWA's Community Leadership Program

Have you ever wondered whether personal coaching could benefit your career and enhance your contribution to your workplace?

With ACWA’s Community Leadership Program, you get 3 sessions of individual coaching with one of our highly experienced, accredited coaches.

Designed to unlock leadership potential within middle managers and team leaders, the Community Leadership Program is a transformative 7-month professional development journey that challenges your thinking and drives you to reach your highest leadership goals… it can be daunting.

That’s why we’ve built in a safe space for you to reflect on your journey with expert guidance from a dedicated coach.

If you would like to find out more about the 2023 Community Leadership Program, contact Maree Perfrement on 02 8974 9830 or email leadership@acwa.asn.au.

Download the 2023 brochure or to apply now, visit:


Bookings received by 31st March 2023 were eligible for an Early Bird Discount, saving $300 per registration. As we only have a couple of spots left, this discount will be extended until this Thursday 6th April, so if you're thinking about applying, don't delay!

Therapeutic Life Story Work

Richard Rose is conducting an Introduction to Therapeutic Life Story Work on May 25 in Sydney. To receive a 5% discount on the early bird fee of $390 (until 11 May) enter ACWA member on the last page of registration.

CCWT Calendar

Join us for some exciting upcoming training opportunities (both face to face and online).

New Course!

Connecting Families
Mon 29 May – Tue 25 Jul 2023 (4 sessions, 28 hours total) in person

This 4-day, highly interactive Connecting Families training is an adapted version of Kevin Campbell’s Family Finding, Family Seeing model and is intended as a collection of tools, strategies, and materials to support professionals in their efforts to strengthen broken connections between youth, family, and community.  The Family Finding, Family Seeing model acknowledges the critical importance of parents, relatives, and other caring people within a child or young person’s life; and that they are key agents of change. Click the course name link for more information.

More courses in April and May:

Complex Case Management
26th & 27th April online

Assessing Children: Autism, ADHD or Trauma?
Fri 05 May in person

Working with Children and Young People Affected by Family and Domestic Violence
Tue 16 May in person

Introduction to Narrative Therapy
1 May online

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership
Tue 02 May in person

Keep checking our website and if the course you want is not there, add your name to the waiting list and when we have sufficient numbers we will be in contact with you.

CAPS E-learning Modules

‘Short bite’ focus sessions on key child protection topics including child sexual abuse, neglect, and domestic and family violence. These courses have been designed both for the general population and people who may have contact with children in their work.

Click here for more information on each of these modules. Click here to access the training.

Other news, reading & resources

Seeking PSPS Providers for Permanency Practice Framework Focus Groups

The Research Centre for Children and Families at the University of Sydney is evaluating the pilot of the new Permanency Practice Framework developed by Parenting Research Centre in partnership with Wandiyali, Benevolent Society and CareSouth and funded by DCJ. The Permanency Practice Framework outlines an evidence-informed coaching approach that practitioners can use with parents or carers of non-Aboriginal children with a goal of restoration, guardianship or open adoption and Aboriginal children with a goal of restoration or guardianship.

Practitioners and leaders who work in the Permanency Support Program are invited to participate in a focus group to share their views about what would help or hinder the implementation of the Permanency Practice Framework within their own workplaces.

Focus groups will take approximately an hour and a half. In the first 20 minutes, PRC will provide a high-level summary of the Framework. This will be followed by discussion on topics such as:

  • How does the Framework compare to existing practice approaches used in workplaces?
  • What impact might the Framework might have on practice with families?
  • What support and resources would be needed to implement the Framework?

To find out more about how you can participate including registration links, click here.

Home Stretch Symposium

International Symposium on Extending Care to 21

Every state and territory in Australia is now on board with #makeit21. While this is fantastic news for young people in out-of-home care, there is still a lot of work to be done. Join the third Home Stretch Symposium in Melbourne on 15 and 16 June, to hear from speakers from Australia and overseas presenting the latest research and evidence-based best practice in Extended Care to 21 years policy.

Click here for more information and to register.

FACSIAR Lunch and Learn

The Department of Communities and Justice Family and Community Services Insights, Analysis and Research (FACSIAR) Invites you to their Lunch and Learn webinar:

Supporting culturally diverse families and children with child protection contact and in out-of-home care

Tuesday 18th April 2023
12.00pm – 1.00pm
Online via MS Teams

This webinar will have a focus on how to best support families involved with child protection services and out-of-home care who are from CALD communities. The session will be chaired by Dr Jessica Stewart (Executive Director, FACSIAR). Current research from the Pathways of Care, Longitudinal Study (POCLS) will be presented by speakers from SSI (previously Settlement Services International), and there will also be insights shared from speakers from Western Sydney University and the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ)'s Office of the Senior Practitioner.

Topics covered will be:

  • Culturally and linguistically diverse children in OOHC: Insights from the NSW Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study
  • Parenting in a new environment: Implications for raising children of African heritage within the Australian child protection context
  • Engaging respectfully with CALD children, young people and their families

For more information and to register, click here.

AIFS Webinar—Online and digital approaches to support wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often experience barriers to seeking help. These include a lack of culturally appropriate services and geographical remoteness.

Online and digital programs that are community-led can address some of these barriers and support the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Hear from three Aboriginal experts in innovative online and/or digital wellbeing programs, as they discuss:

  • How Aboriginal-led online and digital programs can help address barriers to accessing health services.
  • Examples of culturally safe, online and digital approaches to supporting children and families.
  • Practice tips and insights for using online and digital approaches to remote service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

This webinar is recommended for practitioners and service providers who provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Presenters: Trish Ratajczak, David Edwards and Jaylene Friel
Facilitator: Dana Shen
Date & time: Wednesday, 26 April 2023, 1:00PM – 2:00PM (AEST)

Register here.

My Forever Family—Carer Coaching Program

My Forever Family's Carer Coaching Program assists carers in creating a stable home for and relationship with the child or children in their care by offering intensive 1:1 support sessions with MFF's qualified team. These sessions will be goal-focused, motivational, and encouraging to support carers on their journey.

The Carer Coaching Program offers 1-hour coaching sessions, as well as shorter discussions through video conferences or phone calls, with a focus on placement stability and strengthening the relationship between the carer and child.

Carer Coaching topics may include:

  • Carer self-care
  • Feelings of lack of support or isolation
  • Accessing therapeutic care and supports for children and young people
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Family time and building relationships with family, kin and community
  • Supporting culture
  • Process for guardianship and/or adoption

This program is open to carers who have been in their caring role for over 12 months, who want to build resilience and confidence in their caring role and those who have expressed an interest in guardianship/adoption.

To learn more, call MFF on 1300 782 975 or visit their webpage here.

Exciting opportunities are happening at CREATE

CREATE Foundation recently announced that some changes are afoot that will allow them to offer even more opportunities to promote the voices of children and young people, and increase participation in their programs and activities, while also promoting their advocacy.

Looking forward, CREATE will be:

  • Offering an internship program for young people
  • Broadening the opportunities of our Youth Advisory Groups, including working with our First Nations partners to develop a Youth Advisory Group for First Nations young people
  • Developing a Mentoring Program Model for young people transitioning from care

For further information on any or all of the above, click here.

Events and Resources

All of the below can be found on our Sector Clearinghouse webpage, but please check out a few 2023 event highlights for your information:

May 16-19ACRC's 67th Annual International Conference | The Association of Children’s Residential and Community Services (ACRC)

June 6-8The International Congress of Evidence-based Parenting Support (I-CEPS) 2023

Sept 5-7SNAICC Conference 2023 | Join the mailing list

Resources, Research & Reports

or recently released resources and new research please visit our Sector Clearinghouse page.