What’s New at ACWA: November 2022

Welcome to our latest ‘What's New at ACWA’ newsletter.

We hope you enjoy our November update, which includes an exciting and important announcement, new resources, a recap on our AGM, the link to our recently released annual report, as well as training and event news!

NSW increases the age children can stay in foster care to 21

In an incredible win for children and young people in care, their caregivers, advocates and the sector more broadly, the state government has agreed to extend support to young people in care until the age of 21, bringing the system into line with all other states and territories. This historic decision will positively impact the life outcomes of the nation’s largest care population, with the years between 18-21 critical, and often vulnerable, in a young person's life.

Families and Communities, Minister Natasha Maclaren-Jones, announced the change would take effect in February under a $100 million investment over the next five years. It means young people will be supported for three more years if they decide to leave home, or their carers will continue to be paid an allowance if they stay.

Our CEO, Steve Kinmond, had this to say, “We are very pleased that the New South Wales Government has listened to the voices of young people in care who have asked for guaranteed support after they turn 18. This announcement by the Government lets these young people know that during their transition to adulthood, they will have the support they rightly deserve.”

Collaborative Forums

We are coming together with AbSec NSW and DCJ to host a series of collaborative forums for senior executives in the sector. The forums are intended to provide opportunities to collectively work towards resolving the agreed areas requiring service system improvement, and understand how we can all work together to achieve our required outcomes. The first forum in the series is scheduled for this week. The program can be viewed here.

When: Friday, 11 November 2022 from 9.00am to 3.45pm (Refreshments will be served on arrival from 8.30am)
Where: Novotel Sydney International Airport, 22 Levey Street Wolli Creek (and via Zoom)
Registration: You can register two staff members from your organisation if attending face-to-face. Additional online capacity is available. To register, please click here

Please note: Two supplementary names may be registered to attend in person. They will be placed on the waiting list and will be registered if venue capacity allows. Please see the event page for further information regarding additional in-person attendance.

Featured Sessions

  • The PSP data session will define the capture of critical PSP data, and how it can be operationalised to improve PSP outcomes. The discussion will identify the necessary joint government/NGO governance arrangements to drive the ongoing provision of key data to inform continual service improvements.
  • Initiatives relating to Aboriginal children and families will feature an introduction to Aboriginal Case Management Policy (ACMP) and what it means for the NGO sector, detailing the importance of partnering with local Aboriginal communities and community organisations as well as an update about what the ACMP looks like in the early intervention space. The session will also be an update on the OOHC transition project by Jayde Ward, Director Transforming Aboriginal Outcomes.

The full forum program, keynote speaker details and relevant data sets will be provided before the event. Please contact Gillian Brannigan: gillian@acwa.asn.au or mobile: 0407 465 218 if you need any further information.

ACWA 2021-22 Annual Report

ACWA's 2021-22 Annual Report is now available. This year, our Annual Report reflects the significant achievements coming out of our strong sector advocacy work, and committed sector engagement, particularly in relation to the PSP Recommissioning process and Insurance Market Failure. The report also showcases the breadth of resources and submissions we were able to put forward this year to support sector improvement initiatives. This annual report once again highlights the incredible achievements of the sector as a whole amidst the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of  increasing creativity and agility in its response to ever changing circumstances, while remaining steadfastly focused on delivering core services to vulnerable children and their families. We hope you enjoy reading it, here.

ACWA 2022 Annual General Meeting

ACWA's 2022 AGM was held on Thursday 27th October at our new office space in Sussex Street, Sydney, with a virtual attendance option for those who couldn't make it in person.

Thanks to the backing of our membership, we’re pleased to report that we achieved record participation in our AGM, with 40 people attending in person and over 180 online.

We believe that this level of engagement conveyed a strong message to our special guests — Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, Shadow Minister, Kate Washington MP, and the President of the Children's Court, Judge Nell Skinner — that the NGO sector is robust, engaged, and ready to work collaboratively with government to deliver the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

Read more about the 2022 AGM and view our photo gallery here.

We are grateful to all our members and critical partners for your enduring support of ACWA and for the work you do every day to improve the lives of children, young people and families.

Keen to find out if your agency is an ACWA Member? Check our Members list here.

If your organisation is not on the list, why not consider joining? Find out about ACWA membership here.

Problematic and Harmful Sexual Behaviours resources for carers and practitioners

ACWA, in conjunction with the Parenting Research Centre (PRC), are pleased to announce the release of a series of fact sheets for supporting practitioners and carers to better respond to problematic and harmful sexual behaviour (PHSB), which are intended to complement training on this topic being developed by DCJ. The resources can be accessed here.

The work was commenced after the NSW Ministry of Health approached us about filling the gap in available resources tailored to suit the OOHC environment.

The resources were developed using a co-design process with carers and caseworkers from ACWA member agencies, who shared valuable insights and ideas with us during workshops which helped shape the form and content of the resources.

Fact sheets for practitioners:

These factsheets are designed for practitioners who support children and young people in out-of-home care and their carers. They introduce what problematic and harmful sexual behaviours are and how to identify them. The fact sheets also focus on supporting practitioners to hold productive conversations with carers about problematic and harmful sexual behaviours, including using appropriate language and framing, responding to carer reactions and communicating hopeful messages.

Fact sheets for carers:

These factsheets are designed for carers of children or young people — in out-of-home care, particularly if they are displaying problematic and harmful sexual behaviour. They introduce what problematic and harmful sexual behaviours are and how to identify them, and why it is important to respond to these behaviours, including through having safe and open conversations with the child or young person about the behaviour. The factsheets provide guidance on how to have conversations with children or young people about their problematic or harmful sexual behaviour.

Where to find the resources:

The resources can be found and are downloadable from ACWA’s website — link below.

Update on ACWA's shared workspace

As we announced earlier this year, ACWA have moved into our new, permanent home at Level 9, 110 Sussex Street, Sydney and we are excited to be able to share our new space! Our office layout incorporates a shared workspace with up to 10 desks available now for casual bookings for half or full day use. We also have a 'hub' room that can be booked for small groups of 3-6.

The space offers WiFi and access to large screens for virtual meetings. There is no cost but you have a choice about whether you wish to make a donation prior to booking the space.

All donations will go directly to supporting our advocacy and sector development work for the benefit of the sector. Easy online booking is now available at: https://www.acwa.asn.au/book-a-work-space — 48 hours notice is required!

We look forward to sharing our new space and growing the ACWA community with you.

Transition of Aboriginal CYP in OOHC to ACCOs launch

On Friday 9th September, ACWA and AbSec joined with DCJ’s Transforming Aboriginal Outcomes team to host a launch event for the next phase of the Transition of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care project.

Representatives of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal NGO providers gathered in person and online to hear from the Deputy Secretary, Aboriginal Outcomes, Brendan Thomas, who outlined the timeline and proposed focus areas for the project as well as emphasising its critical importance and the need for collective effort to ensure its success. This sentiment was reiterated by AbSec CEO, John Leha, who called out the slow pace of progress on a host of recommendations and reports from ‘Bringing them Home’ to ‘Family is Culture’ and implored the sector to speed up its efforts to implement the Aboriginal Case Management Policy.

ACWA CEO, Steve Kinmond, spoke with emotion about his experience working with strong Aboriginal Community leaders and the successes that come from truly embracing the principles of Aboriginal self-determination. Lastly, Claire Robbs, CEO of Life Without Barriers, described the organisation’s determination to ‘walk the talk’ and ensure transition of all Aboriginal children in its care to ACCOs, however challenging the process might be, calling on the sector to seize this opportunity to effect real change.

Since the launch, Expressions of Interest have been sought for an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) to help inform the transition process, and DCJ, ACWA and AbSec are working to settle a date for the first meeting. Watch this space for opportunities to contribute at a district level, and contact sharon@acwa.asn.au to register interest in participating in local discussions.

CCWT training update

Face to face training is back!

Did you know that CCWT has returned to face-to-face training? CCWT can bring the training to you, getting your team together for face-to-face training is a great way to bring your team together and network after the last two years of distance. Please contact us at ccwt@ccwt.edu.au to make enquiries for the remainder of this year, and into 2023!

CCWT Calendar

CCWT is continuing to run our Calendar program online due to the positive feedback we received last year on the value of being able to access training from your own home, however, as mentioned above, we are also pleased to be able to bring back some face-to-face training into the mix.

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.

New courses in Nov-Dec include:

Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change: 2 day
5-6 Dec, face-to-face

Domestic and Family Violence: Understanding the Impact on Children
22 Nov, via Zoom

Child Mental Health Toolkit: Assessment, Planning and Case Management for Children and Young People with Mental Health Issues
11 & 18 Nov, face-to-face

Other news, reading & resources

Implementing the SAFE Series in OOHC agencies

Life Without Barriers has received funding from the Perpetual 2022 IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program to provide 4000 SAFE Series kits (books and supporting resources) to children in out-of-home care aged 2-10 across Australia.

The SAFE Series is a set of four children’s books containing personal safety messages, developed by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian.

The books:

  • Support the rights of children
  • Promote the concept of children having a voice
  • Help children identify the parts of their body that are private
  • Help children understand their feelings
  • Encourage children to think about five people they trust to help them if they feel scared, sad or upset

Participating out-of-home care agencies will receive the SAFE Series kits for children, as well as implementation guidance and supporting resources for staff and carers. To arrange a briefing and learn how your agency can access the resources, contact Melinda Clarke and Cathy Webb at: SAFEbooks@lwb.org.au

Telepractice hub supporting practitioners

An exciting collaborative project (now in its second year) is bringing together over 20 community sector organisations to focus on embedding telepractice into their service delivery models. The NGO Telepractice Venture, led by Parenting Research Centre and Karitane, is leading the way in developing consistency among the NGO sector in the use of telepractice, supporting hybrid models of care to continue. Over 20 organisations are benefiting directly as part of Communities of Practice. ACWA is leading one CoP specifically supporting small to medium organisations to embed telepractice into their practice.

You can find telepractice resources and guides developed as part of this project on the PRC’s Telepractice Hub, along with a range of other curated telepractice resources. The Hub is packed with resources to help you deliver your telepractice sessions, including short videos for frontline workers, managers and organisational strategic thinkers. Just a few examples include resources on running groups by telepractice, holding child safety conversations, and measures of success. If you’re just starting out with telepractice you’ll find the ‘basics’ section useful, including how to maximise privacy and confidentiality and how to respond to risk concerns.

To find out more contact:
Kate Spalding at Parenting Research Centre: kspalding@parentingrc.org.au
Melanie Hughes at Karitane: Melanie.Hughes2@health.nsw.gov.au

PACYP Voices of Children in Out-of-Home-Care Report

In 2021, the Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) embarked on a consultation project to listen to children and young people's experiences of the OOHC system in NSW. The Voices of Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care Report outlines, in their own words, the experiences of these strong and resilient, children and young people and defines practical recommendations to help us as a community better support the needs of and improve outcomes for children and young people in OOHC. The report can be found here.

Call for I-CEPS abstract papers

The International Congress on Evidence-based Parenting Support is calling for abstract paper submissions from potential presenters; presentations may cover policy, practice and research relating to parenting programs and services, program design and development, theory development and testing, and consumer focused applications. Information about how the research contributes to a global perspective on parenting is encouraged.

The call for abstract submissions closes 18 November. Find out more.

ACAP Clinics — Free groups and therapy offerings

ACAP Clinics are offering a range of free upcoming groups for children, young people and adults; as well as free (ongoing) individual therapy for children, young people, adults and older adults. They also have some dedicated groups for LGBTQA+ Communities running this year.

ACAP currently have a very short waiting list for their free telehealth and face to face therapy services to young people and adults. They can see clients face to face in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. Telehealth (zoom) services delivered Australia wide.

The ACAP Psychology Clinic is staffed by final year Psychology/Clinical Psychology, Counselling/Psychotherapy and Social Work students on placement and offers a wide range of individual and group therapy options. Students are closely monitored and supervised by experienced senior clinicians and academics.

Referrals are accepted Australia wide. GP/Medicare referral is not required, and the service is available to all people regardless of visa status.

To book, refer, or for more information, visit The ACAP Psychology Clinic website:
send them an email or call (02) 8236 8070.

Allambi Care win Training Excellence Award

Allambi Care were recently awarded the Training Excellence Award at the 2022 Australian Business Awards, in recognition of their internal training pathway for staff that progresses from their initial induction training program, through to probationary and role specific training, and advancing through to their Diploma and Degree programs.

Congratulations on what is a a huge achievement for the Allambi Care training team who make an invaluable contribution to the training and development of staff within our sector.

For more information about Allambi Care's training program, click here.

Health and Wellbeing of Foster Carers — Survey

Western Sydney University would like to invite Foster Carers to be involved in a new research project being undertaken at Western Sydney University looking at their long term health and wellbeing. It is hoped that, by participating in this survey, foster carers will add to an understanding of the health outcomes for this population, in Australia. The survey should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

Please promote to carers in your agency, noting that carers will ideally need agree to completing this survey every 6 months for the next ten years so that the researchers can get an understanding of long-term health and wellbeing over time. The research project has ethics approval H14905. Please click the link below below to commence the survey.


If you have any questions or concerns please contact Dr. Nicole Peel n.peel@westernsydney.edu.au

Events and Resources

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

2023 Events for your calendar
 February 21-222023 National Family Group Conferencing Forum

Resources, Research & Reports
For recently released resources and new research please visit our Sector Clearinghouse page.