Ngartuitya Family Group Conference – Information for Professionals

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.”

No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work
Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, 2019

What is Family Group Conferencing?

Family Group Conferencing provides an opportunity for a child or young person and their family to make informed decisions about their own arrangements for the care and protection of the child or young person, and to make voluntary arrangements for their care that are consistent with the priorities outlined in Chapter 2 of the Children and Young Person (Safety) Act 2017  (CYPS Act).  Family Group Conferencing can also be convened to review arrangements and decisions made at a previous conference.

Family Group Conferencing is underpinned by the principles of family led decision making which recognises that:

  • Families are experts in their own lives.
  • Family involved in a Group Conference broadly includes the children, parents extended family and even significant friends and neighbours to the family who may not actually be blood related. Families have the right to have a cultural representative present at their conference.
  • Families, including extended family and communities, have a pivotal role in the care and protection of children and young people
  • Empowering families to make informed decisions about what’s best for their children and young people, benefits children and young people, families and communities
  • Better outcomes are achieved for children when families and children themselves are involved in decision-making processes, when safe to do so
  • Children and young people’s connection to their family and culture is crucial to their wellbeing and development.

How does Family Group Conferencing work?

  • For families to participate in an Ngartuitya Family Group Conference they must be fully informed by a Department for Child Protection (DCP) social worker about the safety concerns for the child and agree that to minimise or remove those risks for the child to thrive, that a whole of family approach could work.
  • A DCP social worker will explain the purpose Family Group Conferencing to the family, including who is able to attend the conference. Participation in a Family Group Conference is voluntary.
  • Once the family agrees to participate, they are referred to Ngartuitya Family Group Conference Service at Relationships Australia South Australia who will connect with the family to discuss the referral and prepare for the conference. This includes the allocation of a Ngartuitya Coordinator to support members of the family come together for the benefit of the child.
  • The preparation stage is a critical stage as the Ngartuitya Coordinator works closely with the family to ensure all the people who can positively contribute the care of the child are invited to participate in the conference.
  • The Ngartuitya Coordinator, in partnership with the child or young person and their parent, is responsible for deciding who can attend a Family Group Conference.  This decision is based on whether the participation of a person is likely to make a useful contribution to reaching an agreement that supports the wellbeing of the child during the Family Group Conference.
  • The Ngartuitya Coordinator is in attendance as they facilitate the smooth running of the family conference. The DCP social worker will be in attendance too.
  • The Family Agreement will need to address the concerns raised by the Department of Child Protection. The Family Agreement must be agreed to by the parents/guardians, child or young person (if in attendance) and the DCP social worker at the time of the conference.
  • It is the Ngartuitya Coordinator’s role to provide a written record of all decisions made at the Family Group Conference. This can include decisions about care arrangements, cultural support and connections, contact arrangements as well as any actions required by parents/guardians, other agencies and family members.

Ngartuitya Family Group Conferencing team are eager to hear your feedback and each participant will be contacted about their experience to help us understand what is working well and what to do better.

Reviewing the Family Agreement

Families will be followed up by the Ngartuitya Coordinator and the DCP social worker within 3 months to see how the Family Agreement is working and to assist with any adjustments. The Ngartuitya Coordinator will check in with the family and may arrange for the family meet again and participate in another conference.

The family is able to request a review if two or more family members who participated in the Family Group Conference believe it is required.

Why we provide a family-led process

Problem focus Solution focus
Families as problems Families as resources
Reactive Proactive behaviour
Fault finding Claiming responsibility
Consultation Collaboration
Professionals Everyone
Crisis management Vision building
Despair Hope
Controls Consent
Prescriptive Creative
Service centred Care centred
Fragmentation Collective effort
Poor relationships Relationship building

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