As we round out the first week in October, we take you through the highlights of September 2021 for the Fams team.

Fams was invited by DCJ to participate in the newly established COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Taskforce along with representatives from DCJ, Health, Education, Resilience NSW, Advocate for Children and Young People and the child and youth sector. The Taskforce objectives are to:

1. Meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people in NSW during and after the COVID-19 lockdown/ restrictions are lifted; and
2. Enable local communities, including government and non-government organisations, to support child wellbeing.

Our CEO was appointed the Chair of the Child Wellbeing Strategies Sub-committee, which will meet fortnightly through to the end of the year. The sub-committee objectives are to:

  • Develop and implement strategies to maintain and support alignment with overarching taskforce objectives;
  • Undertake an ongoing review of child wellbeing matters within the scope of the Taskforce and provide support to ensure best practice; and
  • Promote the health and safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people through collaboration with cross-cluster and interagency partnerships.

Fams was In conversation with Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, Resilience NSW. Shane provided an update on the role of new agency, and took questions on issues including:

  • Engagement with and resourcing of place-based community organisations to play a key role in disaster response and recovery; and
  • Supporting a shift to community engagement and resilience building in emergency management agencies that predominantly adopt a command and control framework.

We look forward to continuing our relationship with Commissioner Fitzsimmons and his team to build strong collaborations to support community sector organisations delivering place-based resilience and disaster recovery services.

The focus in the sector shifted to workforce vaccination as the Public Health Orders moved to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for essential workers. Fams invited representatives from Jobs Australia, ASW NSW/ACT Branch and Justice Connect to join our In Conversation during Lockdown forums to provide updates, respond to questions, and hear concerns.

Fams also welcomed Gemma Rygate, CEO of The Centre for Volunteering to our In Conversation during Lockdown. As we prepare to enter a period of eased pandemic restrictions it is critical that we consider if, when and how we can return our volunteers to face to face roles. The Centre is preparing a suite of free resources and training which we will circulate once they are released.

DCJ established a weekly briefing with the peaks around emerging COVID-19 issues and emerging funding opportunities for the sector, to cope with the tsunami of community need.

We continued our collaboration with Urbis and Youth Action to deliver Building your Organisational Capacity, a simple resource designed to help organisations assess where they need to strengthen their capacity and prioritise the activities which can provide the most value. A series of reflection questions and suggested activities are presented under four domains:  

  1. Mission and strategy; 
  2. Programs and services;  
  3. People and culture; and 
  4. Systems, processes and resources.

OTHER KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fams made a commitment to participating in an education partnership with the University of Sydney through Industry and Community Project Units in early 2022. The initiative pairs undergraduate students with community organisations to focus on global perspectives, cross-disciplinary learning and real-world projects. This is a first for Fams, and we can’t wait to collaborate and connect with students next year.
  • Fams is involved in the SWS Investment Approach for Social Impact Strategy. The Investment Approach work is the result of the Tune review (2015) into Out of Home Care, and the recommendations made by the Auditor General following the conclusion of the Their Futures Matter (TFM) Reforms in 2020.

Fams was invited to be part of the University of Sydney Research Centre for Children and Families Supporting the Woman, Supporting the Mother Study Advisory Group.

  • At the request of local DCJ teams, we hosted online forums with Family Connect and Support providers in Western Sydney district, Nepean Blue Mountains district, and Sydney, South East Sydney, and North Sydney district to build connections with local service providers in those areas.
  • Fams continues to co-host the Family Preservation Program monthly improvement Q&A with DCJ.

We held metropolitan and regional meetings to better understand Pregnancy Family Conferencing as an effective early intervention model to give pregnant women the best chance of keeping their children safe at home following birth. We looked at how Fams can support government and non-government partners to embed this model in service delivery.

  • The Fams’ Board and team attended the Governance Institute of Australia online conference.
  • Our CEO attended Minister Alister Henskens’ Sector Leaders Meeting.
  • The work of the DCJ Commissioning Co-Governance Group and Working Group was suspended as the pandemic response again dominated the attention of government and the sector.
  • We continued our sector support work through:
    • Brighter Futures Lead Agency forum
    • SSESNS district: Preventing and responding to ROSH working group
    • SWS district: Child and family leadership group
  • And we provided individual support to organisations on issues that matter to them, including using DEX.

Thank you for all your support during a busy month!