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The 4th national Child Aware Approaches (CAA) conference was an enormous success, held 23 – 24 May this year, during a balmy Brisbane late autumn, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

This year’s key theme Valuing, Protecting and Promoting Child Wellbeing helped set the scene for a stimulating and challenging two days. The Keynote and Oration speakers created an intensely stimulating and vibrant atmosphere that was both down to earth and inspirational.
From the moving Welcome to Country, sung by Songwoman Maroochy, through to the closing keynote delivered by an Expert panel of Young People and Children’s Commissioners, the two day conference held true to its objectives which were:
•    strengthening our knowledge and capacities to better support children, their families and local communities
•    activating thoughtful and innovative policy and practice
•    promoting child wellbeing and safety
•    inspiring new ideas
•    identifying effective evidence and practice
•    broadening professional networks
•    accessing new resources and evidence
•    working collaboratively to improve child wellbeing outcomes.
View conference photos here

Keynote Presentations
Professor Kerry Arabena, Director, Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne

Professor Kerry Arabena is a descendant or the Meriam people from the Torres Strait. Kerry is also Chair, Indigenous Health and Director, Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne.

Kerry provided insights into the Australian Model of the First 1000 Days, which aims to provide a coordinated, comprehensive intervention to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from conception to two years of age, thereby laying the foundation for their future health and wellbeing.

One of the intentions of the model is to drive enhanced systems and program implementation so that families and communities receive the help they need while working together to value and protect their children.

View Keynote Address: Building child safe organisations and environments
Professor Ross Homel AO is Foundation Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University

Ross highlighted the need to unite our fragmented services to achieve common goals that would address the strong links between child maltreatment, entanglement with the youth justice system, educational disruption and failure.

Ross discussed the Creating Pathways Program, an evidence based Program which focuses on understanding better, the effects of various forms of family support on child wellbeing and on parental empowerment. As a result of the Program, new measurement tools have been developed, including Rumble’s Quest, an on-line and touch screen video game for children aged 5-12 years and the Parent Empowerment and Efficacy Measure (PEEM). These tools will contribute to setting targets for child protection and wellbeing, a key component of the National Framework.

Panel Keynote Address: Supporting young people in out-of-home care flourish in adulthood

ACT Public Advocate and Children & Young People Commissioner, Jodie Griffiths-Cook, led discussion with three young people, Adina Gunnis, Brooke Gregson and Matthew Bambrick and two Children’s Commissioners, Mark Morrissey (TAS) and Cheryl Vardon (QLD) on the conceptualisations of children and young people.

This session explored what happens with power imbalances in both out-of-home-care and for young people in general when adults assume responsibility for decision making. It explored conditions for changing attitudes and organisational cultures and highlighted the value of collaborating with children and young people and valuing their ability for making important life decisions.

2016 Families Australia Oration

View the Oration, Healing to thrive: building the collective strengths of our families for positive generational change
June Oscar AO, CEO, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
As an advocate and activist for social justice, women’s issues, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Indigenous Australian languages June was named in 2011 as one of the 50 most influential women in the world for her work in the world for her work in improving the lives of those living in remote Aboriginal communities and this year was awarded the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship.

June explained the model that the Marninwarntikura Centre has developed is at the forefront of 21st century learning and evidence placings children and families at its centre, informing national policy frameworks and always challenging them to go further. It is a model with a profound respect for the integration of both Indigenous and Western epistemologies that moves services away from isolated delivery, toward wrap around health and educational supports for all.

National Framework Symposium

Key members of the National Coalition on Child Wellbeing and Safety and Government representatives shared information about the development of the Third Action Plan and their aspirations for its implementation.

View the National Framework Symposium here.

Speakers included: Andrew McCallum AM, CEO ACWA; Dr Brian Babington, CEO, Families Australia; Dr Ros Baxter, Group Manager of Families Group, Australian Government’s Department of Social Services; Sue-Anne Hunter, Manager, Aboriginal Children’s Healing Team, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency; Cathy Taylor, Deputy Director – General, Child, Family and Community Services and Southern Operations, Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services; Maree Walk, Deputy Secretary, Programs and Service Design New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services.

Powerpoint presentations of concurrent sessions have been uploaded to the childaware website, under the conferences link.

Questions relating to the conference should be directed to Deputy CEO, Stella Conroy:

P: 02 6273 4885     E:

National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing Membership
The CAA conferences are an activity of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children. Families Australia has been at the forefront of efforts to devise Australia’s first-ever national policy road map to tackle child abuse and neglect—the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

The National Framework is based on a strong leadership role by the Federal Government as well as an innovative tripartite approach to implementation through a partnership between the Federal Government, all State and Territory Governments and the NGO/Research sector.

In 2007, Families Australia led in establishing, and continues to coordinate, the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing (the ‘National Coalition’), which is Australia’s largest grouping of NGOs and researchers working in the area of children’s wellbeing and protection, to assist on the National Framework.

The National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing (National Coalition) was established in 2007, and plays a leading role in advocating for, negotiating, and now, helping to implement, the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The National Coalition comprises nearly 200 non-government organisations that provide services to children, young people and families on the ground across Australia, as well as many key advocates and researchers in the areas of child protection and children’s wellbeing. The larger or peak organisations in the National Coalition, in turn, represent collectively many hundreds of not-for-profit community and welfare organisations around Australia.

Check here to find out if your organisation is a National Coalition member, or to inquire about National Coalition membership.

Families Australia Membership
Families Australia is a national, peak, not-for-profit organisation that strives to improve the wellbeing of Australian families, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. We do this by providing policy advice to the Australian Government and Parliament on behalf of more than 800 member organisations around Australia. We welcome membership from like-minded organisations and research institutes. We have over 800 Members covering every State and Territory, as well as in urban, regional, rural and remote areas. Our Members operate in a diverse range of fields, such as community and family support work, program management, disability, research, grandparenting, children’s services, counselling, youth work, and research. Our Membership is comprised mainly of organisations as well as some individuals.

Check here for more information about Families Australia membership.

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