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Posts from the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Launch of Cultural Diversity and Child Protection Report

On 17th July, I was able to launch my report, Cultural Diversity and Child Protection: A review of the Australian research on the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and refugee children and families in Brisbane with the kind support of the Queensland Commission of Children and Young People and Child Guardian, there were more than 40 people who attended the launch. The video from today’s launch will be uploaded to my website later on today.

I will be holding similar launch events in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart over the upcoming months. A copy of the report was sent to each Minister responsible for Child Protection in all states and territories and Children Commissioners, as well as senior policy makers in each state and territory. It is my hope that this research review will provide the necessary ‘evidence’ to ensure the needs of CALD and refugee communities are included into the Second 3 Year Action (2012-2015) under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and also inform the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.

You can access and download the PDF report from which has also been listed onto the Australian Policy online website.

This research report is the first publication of its kind to review the available research literature on the CALD and refugee families in the Australian Child Protection System (CPS).

This review was able to identify 13 publications describing Australian research completed between 1996 up to June 2012. The Research reviewed all the available Australian research evidence to establish ‘baseline knowledge’ for policymakers, practitioners and researchers.

The Report includes research on:

  • Cultural diversity in CALD and refugee communities
  • Risk factors for child abuse and neglect in CALD and refugee families
  • Communication and language considerations
  • Child protection assessment frameworks
  • Key messages from the Australian research on CALD and refugee families in CPS
  • Presentation of CALD and refugee communities in CPS and their experiences
  • Scoping Study on CALD and refugee children and young people in OOHC in Victoria.

This review identifies the emerging research on CALD and refugee communities coming to the attention of Australian child protection systems and proposes a number of recommendations to practitioners and policy makers to address the current gaps in service delivery data collection, policy and practice guidelines.

If you would like a hard copy of the report email Jatinder at support@jkdiversityconsultants.com.au

Jatinder Kaur, Director, JK Diversity Consultants

Finding the Missing Link between Missing Persons and Child Protection

Julie Clark is a Lecturer at Griffith University and has conducted research into missing persons and their families.  Julies research inspired The Disappearances Project.

Julie is this weeks Child Protection Warrior.  Here is a guest post by Julie, about Julie.

While it may seem a stretch for some, establishing a better response for missing people, their families and friends is strongly related to supporting families and child protection. The largest group of the 35,000 missing people each year are children and young people, mostly 13-17 year old young people, some of whom are or were in care. While most are located and missing only short periods the numbers suggest there is more we need to do to understand and prevent the need for young people to cope negotiating adolescence and difficult childhoods by going missing. Young women are the largest group under 18 years. For others the transition to adulthood is a struggle and more young men become long-term missing people in the years after adolescence. My research has been about siblings of missing people and they spoke about their troubled brothers and sisters, sometimes troubled by experiences of abuse, neglect or difficult family relationships. All those who went missing had struggled with mental health issues. These are the complex issues family support workers, across all professional backgrounds struggle with on a daily basis.

Why people should come to the Missing People: Issues and Implications Conference and TRAMP

The conference is a rare opportunity to come together as a community of people interested in people who have a troubled start to life and the issues around going missing as well as the support of those people left behind. They impact across the lifespan. The issues are complex and different for each group affected. It may be young people, mothers who have relinquished a child for adoption, people fleeing violence, a child abducted, an older person with dementia. Many families will have experienced the loss of someone going missing. This area of practice is under developed, there is so much we do not know and need to better understand to provide more informed and useful responses. We need to intervene early and effectively to avoid young people developing patterns of behaviour that will not be useful to them over the longer term. The police are expected to respond to episodes of going missing but there is little or no sense of a ‘continuum of care’ once the person is located. Rather than a raft of new services we need existing services to include an understanding of going missing in the work they are already doing. The conference will be a place for like minded people to discuss issues of importance to them with a view to influencing the agenda for the next 10 years.

The Disappearances Project was inspired by my research (I read this in a press release so it must be true!). It tells the story from the perspective of people who live with the experience of having a family member who is a long term missing person. It is 50 minutes of powerful theatre. It helps us to understand the cost of going missing from the lived experience of people who live with ‘missingness’ every day. TRAMP (Theatre Raising Awareness of Missing People) is the project title for the theatre production funded by Arts Qld and associated activities (it must be excellent because we were successful with funding even in these difficult times!). As part of TRAMP we invite people to make connections with other local community members interested in this issue and develop their understanding about the impact of someone going missing. People can come together when they attend the theatre productions in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ayr and Cairns. There is a Q and A after each performance with both the actors and myself. Young people interested in using theatre to express themselves may really be interested in the opportunity to talk with two accomplished writers and performers. Bringing social issues to light through theatre is the mission of Version 1.0.

Agency and professional staff and community members are also invited to be part of a workshop in their local community ($30 for a 2 hour workshop. You can register online through Eventbrite) on one of the days the theatre is presenting in their location. See http://www.griffith.edu.au/health/school-human-services-social-work/partnerships-collaboration/tramp for more details or our facebook site www.facebook.com.au/theatreraisingawarenessofmissingpeople.

TRAMP Update

Drumroll please!

Julie and Miff here at TRAMP HQ are excited to announce that tickets to The Disappearance Project at the Judith Wright Centre are on sale now!

The Helpmann Award-winning ensemble (This Kind of Ruckus) version 1.0 comes to the Judith Wright Centre this July with their extraordinary production The Disappearances Project.  Exploring the effects of long-term missing persons cases on family members and communities drawn from years of police investigations and research, The Disappearances Project looks at what happens to the “left-behind.’

Do they hope or do they grieve?  How do they navigate their everyday existence?  Version 1.0 quietly traces the edges of this void, shedding light on the emotional journeys of those left behind.

As many of you will know, Julie’s research was utilised in the crafting of this script and the production promises to be a unique and moving experience.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

“The Disappearances Project is a compelling piece of theatre, unorthodox enough to generate unwavering interest yet believable enough to be deeply relatable. In the final blackout, the fraction of a second’s hesitation before applause signified the audience’s lingering entrenchment before surfacing for breath. There’s no substitute for witnessing genuinely original live theatre; what a privilege!”

Courtney J Pascoe, aussietheatre.com

“This is far from a bleak production, despite its painful subject. I can’t recall an hour in the theatre going by more quickly, driven by the poetry of the text, the quality of the performances and the sounds and images in which they are framed”.

David Zampatti, The West Australian

Click here to purchase tickets from the Judith Wright Centre

Tickets range in price from $25 (student) to $35 (full price), for evening performances on 3rd, 5th and 6th July with a matinee performance on the 4th July.

Alternatively, our event coordinators at e-Kiddna are offering the purchase of tickets via their website.

We would love it if you’d join us for our VIP event which coincides with the official opening night of The Disappearances Project on Thursday 5th July.  Even if you’re not attending the Missing People Conference, you can still purchase a $55 VIP ticket to the conference social event which includes:

  • your ticket to The Disappearances Project
  • entry into the exclusive VIP event at the Judith Wright Centre Shopfront
  • drinks and light canapés, and
  • optional bus transfers to and from the Logan Campus, Griffith University and the Judith Wright Centre.

Click here to purchase your VIP ticket, or if you’d like to simply purchase a theatre ticket for the reduced group rate of $30

Julie and I would be thrilled to see you there.

More news to follow . . . . . . . . . . .

Miff Trevor

Theatre Raising Awareness of Missing People (T.R.A.M.P.)
Masters of Social Work (Q) student on field placement
Ph: 07 3382 1124 | Email: miff.trevor@griffithuni.edu.au
 www.facebook.com/TheatreRaisingAwarenessofMissingPeople
www.griffith.edu.au/health/school-human-services-social-work/partnerships-collaboration/tramp

Child Abuse and other Un-Natural Disasters

“All natural disasters are comforting because they reaffirm our impotence, in which, otherwise, we might stop believing. At times it is strangely sedative to know the extent of your own powerlessness.”

~ Erica Jong


I have been very moved over the past weeks by the community spirit in response to the Queensland floods. It seems that our capacity for kindness and compassion, both in relation to those we know and to strangers, is in abundance at the moment.

From my experience as a social worker, I’ve been somewhat accustomed to a sense of disappointment and frustration at our collective inability to act against injustice and to work together as a community to assist people who, for a range of reasons, are suffering in some way.

So I’ve taken some hope from these experiences. But of course, I’m not content to stop there! My bigger and more ambitious hope is that we might transfer some of this kindness and compassion for people who are suffering from the traumas of these natural disasters to those whose trauma is a result of violence and misuse of power.

I feel a constant sadness at our inability to do this. I’ve had many interesting discussions with people over the past few weeks about why we’ve been able to so effectively mobilize our resources in this ‘natural’ disaster but are unable to do the same for those ‘unnatural’ disasters that we, in the welfare sector, work with on a daily basis.

I find it disturbing that we are so frequently told that we (government, the community) do not have the money or resources to respond more effectively to child abuse, or to homelessness or violence against women, or to poverty. That is clearly not the case. It is a matter, as it always is, of social and political priorities and it is this that saddens and disturbs me the most.

We know so clearly from all our work in the trauma area (our practice wisdom and our research) that the impact of a traumatic event is largely determined by the meaning the person makes of the event. While we continue to undervalue the impacts of relational trauma, survivors will more likely conclude that the traumatic event was their fault. The implications of this for their lives are huge.

These relational traumas are preventable by society. There is no good or logical reason why we cannot mobilize to prevent their occurrence. Our inability to do this says more about our social and political will than our capacity.

It seems that if there is any question about who is responsible for the trauma, we are less likely to get involved or offer support. It appears that we are at our kindest and most compassionate when we believe the traumatic event could just as easily have happened to us and when there is nobody to blame but nature or fate or the Gods.

Our collective ignorance about misuse of power is such that many people seem unwilling to accept that the survivor of childhood sexual abuse is as much a victim of forces outside their control as was the flood victim or the cyclone survivor. And, of course, while we continue to deny these traumas socially, the survivor of trauma caused from misuse of power will be even more sure that it was their fault.

Jenny Gilmore – Facilitator for the Complex Trauma in Childhood: Implications Across the Life Span Professional Development Workshop. Book your spot today!

Reclaiming Professional Supervision for High Performance

I hear and I forget’ ‘I see and I remember’ ‘I do and I understand

~ Confucius

Professional supervision is one of the most fundamental elements to improve professional standards, practice and performance in the workplace. It is essential for measuring sound decision-making, service delivery outcomes, ensuring evidence-based practice and staff are well supported and appreciated in their role. There is also a growing body of knowledge to suggest that professional supervision can prevent or minimise the potential for burnout.

One of the most important parts of supervision is to provide support, encouragement, the opportunity to reflect, provide guidance and positively challenge us as professionals to strive and maintain high performance. “Professional supervision provides a quarantined time and space whereby you and your supervisor can explore how you are going in your role, if you are feeling supported and valued, explore continued professional development opportunities and develop your practice framework in which to reflect and respond to clients” (Harris 2010).

The purpose of professional supervision is:

• integrate the organisations aims and objectives with the workers practice in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the client group

• to assess and review the workers need for professional development and support in the workplace to maximise positive outcomes for clients

• ensure the worker is clear about their role, responsibilities and accountabilities

• enhance and maintain the organisations standards of practice

• create a space for reflection

• ensure there is a two way communication flow

• develop a supportive and positive environment in which to promote high performance

• ensure the worker understands how they are working with clients and what intervention, approach and models to use appropriately

There are many benefits to having high quality supervision for the organisation, you as the professional, your client group and the wider profession.

Benefits for you:

• allows you time out of your busy work schedule to reflect on what you are doing in your role

• ensures you feel supported in your role

• identifies beliefs and values that may be influencing your work

• an avenue to debrief

• time to discuss client cases and ethical dilemmas

Benefits for your clients:

• your client knows they are going to get the best service possible

• that you are appropriately qualified and experienced to do the role

• you are up to date with the latest approaches and models to use

• you are competent and efficient in what you are doing

• you are confident in carrying out the services provided

The role of the supervisor is of teacher and guide for the new supervisee. Where a supervisee has been engaged in supervision for some time the supervisor becomes more of a colleague and sounding board. The supervisor guides the discussion and topic areas within the agenda in conjunction with what the worker would like to focus on. Many supervisors encourage the supervisee to develop an agenda prior to the supervision meeting and when there has not been the time to develop one, the agenda can be developed at the commencement of the meeting. The supervisor is there to encourage, support and offer options and solutions to case discussion. They are there to question and create a space whereby the supervisee explores and reflects on their practice. The role of the supervision is also about encouraging the process of continued professional development and learning, often exploring and discussing articles and information in the supervision session. The supervisor is also well placed to encourage the worker to think about what they do in practice and less about task and process.When we engage in this frame, as professionals we are more open to thinking about the interventions and models we are using and less about the administrative tasks involved in our role.

So what is the role of the supervisee?

Great question.

The supervisee also has a very important role to play and after all this is the reason you are having supervision – it’s all about you! So take the time to enjoy your supervision and take it seriously. The role of the supervisee is to seek guidance and direction when needed. It’s about having the opportunity to debrief and feel listened to. It is important to be prepared, think about what you would like included on the agenda prior to going into supervision. There is always a plethora of things to discuss, so there is no reason to finish before the hour is up when both supervisee and supervisor are well prepared. As this time is your time, be fully present in the supervision meeting. You may have come into supervision tired or frustrated, you may have just come out of working with a client or about to go in with a client after you have finished supervision. Ground yourself before going in as you may miss the opportunity to gain some beneficial learning or exploration. Use the resources of your supervisor as much as you can. Supervisors are a wealth of knowledge and often have a lot of experience in their practice field, so get as much out of the process as you can.

External vs Internal Supervision?

I am often asked the question of which is better, external supervision or internal supervision. The research talks a lot about both and there are pros and cons for both. The important thing is to find the ‘best’ supervisor for you. Think about what you are looking for in a supervisor! What type of personality are you looking for, a more outgoing person who will challenge and stimulate your thinking, a quieter supervisor that will be wonderfully analytical and reflective or someone who has all of these attributes. What qualities and skills are you looking for in a supervisor? What do you expect from a supervisor? One of the most important things to remember if you have an external supervisor is they are aware of the objectives and aims of your organisation as they become a partner in the process. Whilst they are external and are fully objective, high quality supervision will be the end result when your supervisor is supportive of the work your organisation does and understands it well. Another difference I see with having internal vs external supervision is that many supervisors that provide supervision within an organisation are extremely busy professionals and supervision is often what we call ‘on the run’ or more administrative in nature and outcome. High quality supervision ensures that your supervisor is using a model that brings a balance to the supervision discussion and whilst has some focus on task and process, will focus on other areas of your practice and role as well. We work with over 30 professionals every month and we travel into the workplace for many of these professionals to conduct supervision. We are a partner to the organisational environment and get to know the organisation and internal supervisor so they feel comfortable with us as external supervisors knowing their staff are receiving high quality supervision and it is in line with the organisations values and mission.

The key messages are:

• high quality supervision can reduce the risk of burnout

• it provides you with quality time to discuss a range of topic areas to support you in your role

• be happy with the supervisor you have

• ensure your supervisor has a model by which to conduct supervision and you understand it as well

• evaluate your supervision regularly to ensure you are getting the best out of it that you can

• attend supervision training to further your knowledge and skills

• ensure your supervision links to the annual appraisal process

• check Amovita’s website for information on our supervision training and services we provide www.amovita.com.au Reclaiming supervision is important to take care of yourself as a professional and to ensure you are providing good services and outcomes to clients

Tracey Harris BSW DipSoc MAASW (Acc) FRDP (Acc) BSZ MPhil (commenced) Amovita Consulting

Exercising Mastery in Assertive Interactions: How assertive are you?

Ever heard yourself saying; “I wish I could have said more” or “Why didn’t I say that?” or “Why can’t they just listen to me?” or “I just want to run away and pretend it never happened.”
Yes? Then chances are you were not as assertive as you could have been at the time in that particular situation.

We often choose not to be assertive in any given situation for many reasons. These could be because you do not want to hurt the other persons’ feelings, you want to avoid a possible confrontation, you feel vulnerable, you are unable to find the appropriate words or you think it will be a waste of time because the other person might not understand your point of view. Whatever the reason for choosing not to be assertive, the end result of not expressing your opinion can leave you feeling angry, resentful, inadequate, hurt, upset and even more vulnerable. This is because deep down, you might believe that you could have been more assertive, but chose not to, or didn’t feel able to.

Peoples’ experience of assertiveness and being (or not being) assertive is a very subjective, often personal experience. This is because you and others are interpreting your level of mastery over this particular skill. Assertiveness is primarily a behaviour trait and communication skill. It is about how we relate to one another through our verbal (and sometimes non-verbal or behavioural) interactions. The skill of being assertive involves secondary skills such as;

  • Persuasion
  • Advocating
  • Negotiation
  • Influencing
  • Challenging

It is crucial that professionals working with children and families with high level and specific needs to improve their ability to be assertive because this promotes effective and positive relationships. By virtue of your professional role, you are in a position to positively influence others through effective role modelling.

In the workplace, assertiveness can help colleagues communicate better with each other, can help conduct efficient and productive meetings, sensitively challenge staff members, negotiate to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome and appropriately represent the organisation in which you work. With clients, assertiveness can help to address specific issues, uncover the truth or real meaning behind peoples’ actions and mobilise services, resources and people to effect positive changes.

Assertiveness starts with YOU.

Assertiveness Tip 1: Model effective assertiveness

The key to being effectively assertive is to be a good role model. You cannot expect to change anyone – but you can influence their communication and behaviour style by modelling effective communication and behaviour styles. Being assertive and presenting as an assertive person to others requires considerable skill as well as an injection of your own personality. In an ideal world, thinking before you speak can avoid much confusion, conflict or hostility. However, it is not always possible to have a plan of how you might respond to another person as you are experiencing the precise moment. This is because you can often find yourself in a very spontaneous discussion that requires a level of assertiveness and if you are ‘put off guard,’ you can feel unable to respond appropriately, thereby leaving you feeling frustrated.

Assertiveness Tip 2: Empathise to appreciate the value of assertiveness

In a situation that requires you to express your needs or opinions, taking a few moments to empathise with the person or people you are having an exchange with by gaining some degree of insight into why they might be saying or feeling what they are AND projecting a positive attitude to the situation, can increase the likelihood of being and coming across as assertive. The end result is that you are held in some level of esteem by others because you have acted in a responsible, sensitive, diplomatic and confident way. These actions rarely go unnoticed. Therefore, you are in a better position to positively influence others, thereby becoming a role model – or better still, an ambassador for assertiveness!

Assertiveness Tip 3: Choose your words carefully

Using words that are neutral, positive and specific encourages clarity of purpose and gives meaning to the words you use. The key is to convey a message to others that you are generally a positive person who is skilled at communicating in a way that influences how others see you – this being, in a positive light. It is also important to keep communication brief and to the point. Confusion happens when people are vague and frustration occurs when people ‘waffle’.

In other words, no SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA’S ALLOWED!
Give people the opportunity to change their behaviour by telling them how their behaviour affects you. By doing this, you will show respect and they will know where they stand with you.

3 Assertive Behavioural Styles

1. Assertive

Assertion involves defending one’s personal rights and feeling free to express one’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest and appropriate ways and which do not violate another person’s rights. Being assertive is about being respectful – to yourself and to those with whom you are communicating. The goal is for mutuality or a ‘win-win’ outcome.

The basic message in assertive behaviour is;

THIS IS WHAT I THINK
THIS IS WHAT I FEEL
THIS IS HOW I SEE THE SITUATION

2. Aggressive

Aggression involves defending your personal rights by expressing yours thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, dishonest and inappropriate ways which violates another person’s rights. Being aggressive is about being disrespectful to those with whom you are communicating. The goal is for domination or a ‘win-lose’ outcome.

The basic message of aggressive behaviour is;

THIS IS WHAT I THINK – (AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK)
THIS IS WHAT I FEEL – (WHAT YOU FEEL IS IRRELEANT AND NOT IMPORTANT)
THIS IS WHAT I WANT – (AND I’M GOING TO GET IT BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE)

3. Non-assertive (passive)

Non-assertion involves failing to defend your personal rights by either choosing not to express your thoughts, feelings and beliefs or expressing them in an apologetic and diffident way which allows others to violate your rights. Being non-assertive is about disrespecting oneself and your needs. The goal is to please others and avoid conflict at all costs.

The basic message of non-assertive behaviour is;

WHAT I THINK DOESN’T MATTER
WHAT I FEEL IS IRRELEVANT AND NOT IMPORTANT
I KNOW WHAT I WANT BUT I DON’T MIND IF I DON’T GET IT

Rebecca Stephens
MA, BSW, AASW, PTASW, MAASW
Amovita Consulting