One of the problematic aspects of politics is the way in which policy debates can turn into rhetorical stoushes, which do not necessarily relate to the reality of how things are at community level.
I try to ensure that my office regularly touches base with a range of community organisations so we can retain an idea of what the issues are for them, as opposed to what politicians or the mainstream media say the issues are.
Community service organisations provide invaluable and often unrecognised assistance to many people. It also gives a useful insight into the practicalities of current debates. I will try to do a few pieces on this blog about some of these organisations to give a small insight into the important work they do, which is often lost beneath the day to day political debate.
Child protection issues continually recur in political debate, although often it seems like we are making little progress. A piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald details the need of foster carers to have “more specialised training, more support and better pay in order to help the growing numbers of highly troubled children being placed in their care.”
Western District Child Protective Services in Brisbane is a community organisation which provides assistance to foster carers. They are responsible for recruiting, training, assessing and supporting foster carers – a service which provides a crucial component in ensuring better child protection.
WDCPS has developed a ‘lifetime memories’ activity, which is designed to address requirements of the Child Protection Act 1999. It engages families in a hands on bonding session, where the foster carer assists the child in adding photos of special occasions and events into a photo album, and they creatively design pages together. The aim is to increase the child’s self confidence and gives them a way to express their own individuality and sense of belonging.
The lack of funding that they and many other similar organisations receive from the government for child protection in general and service delivery in particular is a problem. There is money provided for foster caring, but not necessarily in service delivery.
Many carer organisations are battling with the increasing amount of paper work that governments require them to do in order to maintain their funding. While some accountability is necessary, there is no extra funding or staff to deal with the paper work and therefore carers are getting less attention and support as staff are too busy doing administration.
This is very difficult but very important work, and the more support groups like these get in helping children and young people feel part of family and community, the better for all of us.