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Family-community connection at the heart of child protection

Prof Arney says children flourish in families that are connected to other families.istock_8985845Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia, Professor Fiona Arney has used the award presentations in National Child Protection week to emphasise the importance of community connection for families as a key platform for child protection and well-being.

Speaking at the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, NAPCAN awards in Adelaide today, Professor Arney said children thrive when they live in families that are connected to other families.

“With data out this week that suggests people are reluctant to take any action when they suspect children are at risk, the notion of connection in community is more important than ever,” Professor Arney said.

“It is too easy for people experiencing difficulties to become isolated and that isolation only compounds their problems.

“I have been delighted today to be able to present the NAPCAN's "Play Your Part Award" this year to the program Family by Family because it offers an innovative model for supporting families that encourages, empowers and supports families on a journey back into the world, breaking their isolation, fostering hope and in many practical ways, delivering better outcomes for children.”

Designed by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation’s Radical Redesign Methodology team, Family by Family is a new model of family support designed with families to address the problem of too much demand on crisis services, and too few families with the supports to manage chronic stress and isolation. 

The program finds coaches for families who have been through tough times and come out the other side and links them up with families who would like something to change. Professionals take an indirect role; motivating, prompting and problem solving with family pairs, rather than assessing, diagnosing or directing family change.

“What this program has innovatively tapped into is the fact that generally, even in tough times, people would rather find support through the people they know, through family and friends,” Professor Arney says.

“Developing a program that help people to make their own networks provides opportunities for better long term outcomes for families recovering from tough times,” she said.

“The Family by Family program is an inspiring initiative and one that is set to support children in their communities.”

Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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