How we help:
We place children at the centre.
A circle is protection and safety whose boundary helps encourage sharing and confidentiality. Circle work allows us to sit in story to connect the act of Dadirri deep listening.
For the Children
Ngartuitya (nar too it yah) is a Kaurna concept from the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains region meaning ‘for the Children’. This concept values and spotlights children and reorients the focus to be for them, not without them.
Ngartuitya Family Group Conference team recognises the protective factors that cultural identity provides. All families from diverse cultural backgrounds will be provided, wherever possible, an appropriate Ngartuitya Coordinator whose role includes ensuring that the processes of the conference support the family’s cultural identity and encourages pride in culture.
It is of critical importance to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection system and Ngartuitya Family Group Conference Service will provide Aboriginal Coordinators wherever possible and appropriate, to ensure services are culturally inclusive, safe and respectful to Aboriginal families living in South Australia.
Families also have the right to choose a cultural representative to attend their Family Group Conference.
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.
For families to participate in an Ngartuitya Family Group Conference (NFGC) 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, a whole of family approach could work.
Families’ 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 preparation 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.
Once the child, parents and all family members have understood the purpose and agree to participate in an NFGC, the Ngartuitya Coordinator will organise a suitable venue and time so that the family can come together to discuss how, as a family, they will work together to support the child.
On the day of the Family Group Conference, the Ngartuitya Coordinator will be present at the venue and family members will attend. Either this can be in person, via video or telephone link or the Ngartuitya Coordinator can provide written contributions from those who cannot attend. The space will be set up to be welcoming and facilitate shared discussion.
- Introduction to the Ngartuitya Family Group Conference – The first part is sitting together as a family so the Ngartuitya Coordinator can ensure that everyone present, including the DCP social worker, is aware of the purpose, each person’s role and responsibility and that the child’s safety concerns to be addressed, are clear to everyone present.
- Family time – This is private time and space for the family to make decisions on what solutions they can provide within their own family and community to address concerns raised. The Ngartuitya Coordinator can provide facilitation assistance if requested by the family. The DCP social worker is not part of the family time
- Family Agreement (the plan) – The Family Agreement has to say what needs to be done, by who, and when these actions need to be taken to address the safety and wellbeing concerns for the child or young person. All participants, including the DCP social worker – who is required to approve the Family Agreement, must agree to the decisions made, understand their own role and their responsibilities within the timeframes agreed on at the conference. The Ngartuitya Coordinator will ensure that all present receive a copy of 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.
Family involved in a Group Conference will include children, parents, extended family and even significant friends and neighbours to the family (who may not actually be blood related) and can include a cultural representative.
Families, including extended family and communities, have an important role in caring for children and young people, and keeping them safe.
Ngartyuitya Family Group Conferencing is funded by the South Australian Department for Child Protection.