On 16 February 2009, The Hon Jenny Macklin MP announced the establishment of the Family Support Program. An extensive consultation process was conducted in 2009 to inform the design of the Family Support Program.
On 3 November 2010, Minister Macklin outlined reforms to the Family Support Program to better target vulnerable and disadvantaged families, coordinate services for families and children, reduce red tape and paperwork for service providers and enable them to work more flexibly to meet the local needs of children and families.
The Family Support Program supports the Australian Government's commitment to the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children by complementing state and territory services through early intervention and prevention support for children and families at risk. It also supports the Government's commitment to putting the safety and wellbeing of children at the heart of the Government's social policy agenda.
The Family Support Program ensures services are available to support the wellbeing and nurturing of children and families, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged, to enable them to manage life's transitions, ensure children are protected and contribute to building stronger, more resilient communities.
Family Support Program service streams from 1 July 2011
From 1 July 2011, the Family Support Program comprises two core streams:
The Family and Children's Services streamlined into four services types:
- Communities for Children Services:to provide prevention and early intervention services to families with children up to age 12 and who are at risk of disadvantage;
- Family and Relationship Services: to provide relationship advice, counseling for young people and children, and broader parenting support;
- Specialist Services: to support vulnerable families affected by issues such as drugs, violence and trauma; and
- Community Playgroups: to support parents with young children.
Streamlining these services, along with Family Law Services, into the Family Support Program provides a significant opportunity for the community sector and government to collaborate in response to a wide range of social needs. They are supported by national services.
Responsive and flexible services
The Family Support Program enables services to better focus on the needs of families and children, particularly those at risk, by way of:
- linking services more effectively;
- facilitating greater flexibility and responsiveness in service design and delivery; and
- ensuring a 'no wrong door' approach so clients requiring assistance can be appropriately supported through any Family Support Program service.
A collaborative approach
The Family Support Program depends on effective collaboration that ensures:
- governments and the community sector work together to support children and families;
- increased opportunities to work with state, territory and local governments and the legal system; and
- streamlined program management to reduce red tape burden on service providers.
Collaboration is essential for the design and for planning of services to meet local needs, increase service flexibility and better meet the needs of families and children.
Family Support Program Future Directions discussion paper
Consultation on the implementation of the Family Support Program
To support the implementation of the changes to the Family Support Program from 1 July 2011, FaHCSIA provided stakeholders with information on the program reforms and consulted them on implementation issues for the sector, including reporting and performance requirements and strengthening collaboration in service design and delivery.
On 9 November 2010, the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, the Hon Julie Collins MP consulted with national stakeholders, including peaks and major service providers. Further consultations by the Department were held in every state and territory throughout November and December 2010, with 20 consultations taking place in 17 different locations. Feedback from the consultations provided broad endorsement for the direction of the program and provided valuable input into the implementation of the FSP from 1 July 2011.
Program guidelines and related information
The Program Guidelines provide information relating to the Family Support Program.
- Transition Fact Sheet
- Collaborative Service Delivery Fact Sheet
- What does "vulnerable" mean for the Family Support Program Fact Sheet
- FSP Program Structure Diagram
Frequently asked questions
- Program Overview and FSP Services
- Performance Framework and Data Collection
- Funding and Program Guidelines
Family Support Program e-News
The Family Support Program e-newsletter is a regular sector update.
This newsletter is circulated by email around four times each year. If you or someone you know would like to subscribe you can do so by clicking on subscribe.
If you would like any further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Peak body - Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA)
Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) is the representative body for the Family Relationship Services sector and receives funding each year from the Department as well as its membership. FRSA aims to be a collective voice for the sector. The body was established on 1 July 2007.
Visit the Family Relationship Services Australia website for more information.
Family Support Program Evaluation Activities 2011-14
An FSP Evaluation Strategy is being implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of the new FSP and inform future FSP development work from 2014. The evaluation has several elements.
The Stronger Families in Australia. study (SFIA) is a longitudinal population level study that evaluates the impacts of the Communities for Children (CfC) initiative on children, families and communities. Phase 1 has been completed and was published in 2009. Phase 2 is currently underway.
Further elements of the FSP Evaluation Strategy 2011-2014 are being developed. It is expected that evaluation activities will include information about client, service provider and other stakeholder experiences, as well as data collected as a result of the FSP performance framework.
Evaluations of the MyTime for Grandparents peer support program and the Protective Behaviours Pilot are included in the FSP Evaluation Strategy.
FSP finalised evaluation and research activities
- Evaluation of the All Children Being Safe Tamworth Pilot (2012)
- Positive Family Functioning (2011)
- Families’ experiences of services (FaHCSIA Occasional Paper 30)(2010)
- Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms (2010)
- Engaging hard-to-reach families and children (FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 26) (2008-2009)
- Stronger Families in Australia study: the impact of Communities for Children(FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 25)( 2008-2009)
- National evaluation (2004-2008) of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy (FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 24) (2008-2009)
- Indigenous Families and Children: Coordination and Provision of Services(FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 23) (2008-2009)
- Engaging Fathers in Child and Family Services: Participation, Perceptions and Good Practice (FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 22) (2008-2009)
- Lessons learnt about strengthening Indigenous families and communities (FaHCSIA Occasional Paper No 19) (2008-2009)
- Promising Practice Profile final report (2008)
- RMIT University’s full set of reports and papers from the first Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 2000-2004 evaluation (2008)
- Good Practices and Pitfalls in Community-Based Capacity Building and Early Intervention Projects: A Toolkit (2005)
- Child Care Links Evaluation Report (2005)
- National Evaluation Framework of the SFCS 2004-2008 (2005)
- National SFCS Evaluation Program Logic (2004)
Information Exchanges (formerly Clearinghouses)
Child Family Community Australia (CFCA)
Child Family Community Australia is a new information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).
The CFCA information exchange is a product of the amalgamation of three AIFS clearinghouses - the National Child Protection Clearinghouse, Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse and Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia.
The CFCA information exchange began operation on 30 March 2012, and is a central point of knowledge translation and exchange for professionals in the child, family and community sectors.
The new website can be found at: http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/
All Family Support Program (FSP) providers are required to have procedures in place to receive feedback on their services, including complaints. Information on a service provider's complaints policy is available at the service outlet. If you wish to make a complaint about a FSP Service, contact the service provider management directly in the first instance.
If you are not comfortable talking directly with the service provider or if you are not satisfied with how your complaint has been handled by the provider, please contact the National Office Complaints Team:
Ph: 1800 634 035
Fax: (02) 6204 4587
PO Box 7576
Canberra Business Centre