FAMILY GROUP CONFERENCING
Australian Family Group Conferencing are an Aboriginal Organisation specialising in Family Finding, Family Group Conferencing and Permanency Planning Assessments, for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families, and for families with disabilities.
Our staff are highly qualified and trained in many aspects of family work and all possess high levels of cultural competency, ensuring that all families and their different cultures are respected and considered during our work with them.
What makes Australian Family Group Conferencing
different to the other Organisations?
We specialise in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait families
We specialise in working with families and children with a disability
We can offer either Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal Staff to work with our families
Our staff are all highly qualified in all aspects of Aboriginal cultural competency
All our Staff are trained and extremely experienced in many aspects of family work
We take time to understand our referrals, to enable us to best match specialised Staff to the needs of the family
What is a Family Group Conference?
A family group conference (FGC) is a structured decision-making meeting made up of family members.
‘Family’ is determined broadly, to include the children, parents, extended family and even significant friends and neighbours to the family who may not actually be blood-related.
The goal of the meeting is to provide families with a safe space and time to reach a plan to facilitate the safe care and protection of a child or children in need.
The professionals are only involved at the beginning of the meeting and at the end when the family present their plan for negotiation with the referring Organisation.
A Family Group Conference can be used to help families make decision relating to issues such as;
· Child protection and welfare
· Youth offending
· Domestic & family violence,
· Foster care placement breakdown,
· And, any situation where family may be able to resolve their own issues
"A Family Group Conference empowers families to make their own decisions for their children.
Statistically families are more likely to stick to a plan made by themselves than a plan that has been made for them".
Some of the defining features of the Family Group Conference process are:
The family Group Conference is made up of as wide a network of family including grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, parents, child, and family friends
The Family Group Conference Facilitator meets with family and professions prior to the Family Group Conference to gather and share Information about process
The family is given private time at the Family Group Conference to create a Family Plan for the child or young person.
The Family Plan should address any issues which will then ensure that the child or young person is no longer at risk
The values that underpin the Family Group Conference process are:
The child or young person’s interests the most important
The child should have a voice in the Family Group Conference process
The child's views, feelings and solutions are as important as the adults who are part of the process
Children are generally best looked after within their families
Working in partnership with families is beneficial for children
Most families can make good decisions about the future of the children involved
Given the right environment and the opportunity, our families instinctively know what is best for their children.
Why do we need a Facilitator? Why can’t we do this ourselves?
The goal of a Family Group Conference is to support the family to undertake a commitment of change and not just compliance.
When family members voluntarily make significant changes in their lives, there is a greater likelihood sustainable change if they have been part of creating the solution.
Ability to be neutral and independent whilst forming relationships with all parties
Ability to assist the group to understand the issues which are impacting on the safety for the child or young person
Ability to assist the family to assume responsibility and to take the lead in decision making regarding the own children
Ability to plan and guide a family and the referring organisation to an outcome which ensures the child or young person’s safety
Relationship building begins the moment family members allow the Facilitator into their lives, and the issues discussed during family preparation and the Family Group Conference are usually highly complex and distressing and can trigger strong emotions within the family.
Due to confidentiality issues regarding information shared about children, extended families often find themselves talking to a Facilitator and telling their story for the very first time.
Relationships between families and Child Protection Agencies can often break down due to the statutory responsibilities of the agency. The Facilitators role is to be neutral and create a space in which both family and agencies can come together to develop a plan for the safety and wellbeing of the child or young person.
During any mediation process, Facilitators are neutral or independent and have no attachment to a particular outcome. This neutrality is important, as the Facilitator is then able to step back from the emotional context and from their own personal views. A Facilitator focuses purely on the family process and on helping the group work together well to create their Family Plan.
Making a Referral
When making a Referral, consider the following;
What are the issues which have promoted the referral is being made?
What are the expectations and anxieties of both the family and the Referring Organisation?.
Is the Referring Agency willing to accept the Family Group Conference plan – provided it meets the expectations of keeping the child or young person safe?
How will the Referrer work together, communicate and resolve difficulties that may arise during the Family Group Conference?
Are they any issues regarding the safety of the participants and the Facilitator taking part in the Family Group Conference?
Are the roles and responsibilities of all parities clearly understood?