The FISH President Report for 2021 was presented at the AGM on 10 December 2021.
We have made remarkable progress during the year and, as Felicity our President says, it is due to the work that so many FISH members and allies have done since a small group of people had an idea over coffee several years ago to change the experiences of children and families involved in child protection and out-of-home care.
In July 2021, we made a submission to support development of the successor plan for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. It describes various types of peer parent and family advocacy and we argue for broad sector-wide integration of parent and family peer advocacy and support and relational permanence. We view this as fundamental to supporting the wellbeing of children in child protection and out-of-home care systems, especially maintaining family relationships through parents’ active involvement in their children’s lives and decisions that affect them.
This 2019-20 pilot project demonstrated peer support and advocacy as a family inclusive innovation and an important part of making sure parents and family can participate in their children’s lives. The project contributed to growing evidence supporting the effectiveness of peer initiatives. It also made our FISH peer support and advocacy service possible – thank you!
This is a presentation about research that we supported. It was conducted with parent peers during the PPSP in a series of focus groups. It explored their experiences as parent peers, what they gained from the role, and connections with their own experiences as parents involved in child protection and out-of-home care systems.
“No voice no opinion, nothing” FISH parent leaders provided advice and support to researchers from the University of Newcastle and non government organisation, Life Without Barriers, to research the experiences of parents who have children in care. This research highlighted how hard parents work to continue to care for and parent their kids in care. The research report was launched on February 21st, 2017 in Newcastle.
This is where it all started after that initial gathering. Interested parents and practitioners came together at this forum in 2014. A panel of parents and carers talked about their experiences and everyone started to work together on how to improve the experiences of children in care connecting with their families.
May 2018, submission to the Australian Parliament’s inquiry into local adoption and out of home care. We argued that the child protection system should never be a source of children – or a way of making children available. We argued that the system needs to refocus on relationships, children and family inclusion and remember that we need to commit ourselves to children’s rights – not the needs and wants of adults. We have recommended that forced adoption be put aside in favour of a focus on permanency and stability – based on research and learning from our history.
December 2017, submission to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS, now DCJ) in response to their shaping a better child protection system discussion paper. Among other things FACS wanted to make it even easier to forcibly adopt children, to legally sever family relationships – without child or parental consent. With very few exceptions, FISH opposed all of the proposed legislative changes which would have seen more children subject to permanent removal and the use of unjust legal remedies which were not focused on children’s needs. NSW FACS has not communicated the outcomes of their consultation.
July 2016, submission to the New South Wales Legislative Council Inquiry into Child Protection. We told the inquiry that children and families experience exclusion and marginalisation and that family inclusion is needed to bring about fewer child removals, more safe restorations home and better outcomes for all children.
April 2016, submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Abuse. We believe that family inclusion can help prevent child sexual abuse in care. We argued that child protection and out of home care organisations need to include families if they are to be safe places for children and the Royal Commission agreed with us.
July 2017, submission to Family and Community Services NSW consultation into therapeutic out of home care – or how better to look after children in care, especially children and young people in residential care or with high needs. We told FACS that children and young people need their families to be more involved in their care.
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