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Family group conferencing
This short video explains Family group conferencing, how it works and the benefits it can bring for families, children and young people. FACS understands that everyone’s family situation is different. Family group conferencing helps to build on people’s strengths and support families to overcome challenges.
FACS began implementing family group conferencing as part of its Safe Home For Life Reforms in 2015.
Family group conferencing is being implemented state-wide and there have been some very positive results.
In the Far West and Murrumbidgee district, caseworkers and families are reaping the rewards of Family Group Conferencing.
Nathan Brown, Manager Casework Albury Community Services Centre, said that he is seeing the benefits of using FGC in everyday practice, “Caseworkers are able to work more collaboratively and develop better relationships with family, extended family, NGOs and other agencies.”
“For children, young people and their families, they are included in the process of developing a family plan to ensure the safety of children,” he added.
Nathan points to a recent case involving two young sisters who had been voluntarily placed with their grandparents and who now, thanks to FGC and some skilful casework, have a case plan with consolidated family support. Caseworker Cilla Zollner acknowledged that there were strengths on which to build and arranged for a FGC facilitator to engage with the extended family to explore what support could be provided so that the children could live safely with their parents.
“Having an impartial facilitator engaging with this family really helped them to maintain an open mind with case planning and Cilla prepared them for some difficult conversations” Nathan said.
Restoration to their parents is now being considered.
FACS is strongly encouraging caseworkers to try family group conferencing. The evidence in the districts shows that family group conferencing provides families with a stronger voice in decisions about their children’s care. The use of FGC provides an important opportunity to resolve child protection matters and build support networks for families outside of the court process.
To support caseworkers and families participate in conferences, new resources including videos for staff and families and brochures for parents and carers and children and young people, translated into six languages, are available.