NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: July 2020

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

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The April report took a look at what life at home now looked like for families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The July report expands on the impact of COVID-19 with reporting in the context of family violence, and highlights proposed changes to legislation inspired by the horrific death of Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her children.

Family Violence

The already complex and numerous concerns regarding family violence have been heightened behind closed doors since the lockdown required under COVID-19. Concerningly, the number of children aged five to 12 years calling Kids Helpline spiked 25 per cent during COVID-19 compared to previous months ( Queensland police faced the grim milestone of being on track to hit a record number of family violence occurrences, with 96,364 recorded so far – an increase of 8% on last year ( The Queensland government had announced $5.5 million in funding for family violence, with support service DV Connect to receive $1.5 million, $1.7 million allocated for crisis accommodation, $1.8 million for enhanced services, with the remainder going towards an awareness campaign ( Finally, Brisbane City Council have adopted a domestic violence strategy which some argue, although a welcome step forward, does not go far enough (

Post Separation Family Violence

With family violence services generally focused on the intervention, assessment and crisis stages, a gap exists in support for mothers and children in the years following separation when court ordered contact arguably provides protracted opportunities for perpetrators of family violence to harass, abuse, and control their ex-partners and children. For those interested, Women’s Safety have conducted a survey of their members and released a full report on child contact, shared care, and family law in the context of family violence and COVID-19 ( The Commonwealth government has announced that it will provide $13.5 million to fund a risk screening and triage pilot in Adelaide, Parramatta, and Brisbane registries of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This pilot, implemented under the Lighthouse Project, is a welcome step to improving safety for women and children in the family law system.

Hannah Clarke

This year bore witness to the horrific murder by a perpetrator of family violence of Hannah Clarke and her young children, that again highlighted the need to keep in public view women’s experiences of violence and trauma after separation. Family violence is a social problem that remains an indictment on our society. The Clarke murders provided yet another pivotal moment in which all Australian governments charged with monitoring perpetrator risk and keeping women and children safe, could further understand the risk posed by coercive control. The evidence base on coercive control is well established, but it is yet to be translated into comprehensive training for frontline practitioners outside the specialist family violence sector in Australia (

            Hannah Clarke’s murder also inspired the introduction of a new bill to parliament by Federal Labor MP Graham Perrett. This private member’s bill is aimed at removing what Mr Perrett describes as confusing laws around custody arrangements ( This important piece of legislation is supported by Women’s Legal Services (QLD) who have an information page and petition for those wanting to put their voice forward (

In summary, a continuing focus within the Child, Youth, and Family portfolio of NCWQ is the post separation context and women and children’s experiences of coercive control and family violence. In that context I am working closely with my counterparts in the National Council of Women in NSW in drafting resolutions to be put forward for consideration at the 2020 Mid-Term Conference. Please feel free to contact me with any input you might have in this area.

Women with a Disability

Lastly, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is encouraging responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 11 September 2020 on the experiences of First Nations people with a disability to share their views about what they think governments, institutions, and communities can do to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of First Nations peoples with a disability. The Royal Commission is interested in examples of laws, policies, and practices in different settings that are not working or not working well in areas such as education, healthcare, workplaces, the justice system, home, online communities, and families (

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: February 2020

2019-20 Bushfire Events

It has been a devasting start to 2020 for many Australians. From September 2019 fires heavily impacted various regions across Australia. In New South Wales more than 100 fires burnt across the state. In eastern and north-easternVictoria large areas of forest burnt out of control for weeks. Significant fires occurred in South Australia. In Queensland affected areas included south-eastern Queensland. Areas of south-western Western Australia, and a few areas in Tasmaniaand the ACT were also impacted. Over this period, it is estimated that 1 billion animals have perished, 18.6 million hectares has been burnt, 2,779 homes have been lost, and over 30 people killed. Concerns also remain as to the effects of the prolonged smoke inhalation. 

The recent bushfire events serve as a sharp reminder of the different issues affecting women and families including healthy and safe environments. During disasters, people experiencing family or sexual violence may have additional marginalisations including isolation, homelessness, disability, being culturally or linguistically diverse, or being LGBTQI+. Families experiencing violence before the fires may face increasingly frequent violence post-disaster, when trauma, grief, financial stress, and loss of a home or employment may escalate their partner’s perpetration. Women and their children may also find themselves separated from extended family, friends and other protective networks.  

With research and some organisations suggesting that gendered violence may peak during stressful events it is vital that government and those at the coal face deliver timely education and information relating to family violence. In this context a checklist has been developed to support community workers and individuals responding to the bushfire event. The “Checklist to Keep Women and Children Safe after Natural Disasters” comprises a gendered lens and can be found at ( Other resources that may be accessed by women following the 2019-20 bushfire events include:

  1. Find a Bed (
  2. The Australian National University has produced a factsheet on how to protect yourself and others from bushfire smoke (
  3. The Australian Psychological Association has provided information on how to psychologically prepare and recover from bushfires – including advice for those looking after children affected by bushfires (
  4. Website Ask Izzy provides general information on local supports (
  5. ANROWS has done up an opinion piece on trauma and children with a back to school focus on children’s needs who are traumatised not only by the bushfires, but also family violence (
  6. The Monash University (Disaster Resilience Initiative) have drafted a factsheet on how to ask if someone is experiencing violence during a natural disaster (
  7. Telstra is supporting a complimentary phone top up scheme for those affected (

Sexual Violence

A recent investigation by the ABC found that police reject 1 in every 12 reports of sexual violence as “unfounded”. The investigation analysed 140,000 reports Australia wide between 2007 and 2017 and found that 12,000 had been rejected. This disbelief of victims remains rooted in societal attitudes around false allegations, with 42% believing that sexual assault allegations are used to get back at men, even though 9 out of 10 sexual assault survivors don’t report, and false reports are rare (ABS, 2017). 

The Queensland Government is delivering the Queensland Violence against Women Prevention Plan 2016-22 and the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy 2016-2026, and in 2019/20 will provide over $100,000 in one-off grant funding for activities and events aimed at helping to stamp out sexual violence in all Queensland communities through the Sexual Violence Prevention Grants Program. Along these lines the consultation period on Queensland’s review of laws relating to consent and the excuse of mistake of fact, closed on 31 January 2020 and submissions are now being considered. These are all important steps in the generational process of changing individual attitudes around sexual violence.

Family Violence and Homelessness

In Queensland there are over 72,000 social or affordable homes, with a further 5,500 under construction. However, 10% of the waiting list is known to be those at risk of family violence (2,200 out of wait list of 22,000). There is no doubt many more who are not registered. Coercive and financial control are driving factors behind homelessness which forces some women and their children to live in cars or motels. These women need not only proper shelter, but also access to services long term that will support their safety, stability, and recovery.

Family Violence and Disability

Submissions are open for the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability. For more information go to their website (


In the November 2019 report I discussed the national plan aimed at implementing an endometriosis education program in schools for girls in Years 9 and 10. To update I share that the NCWQ are now in the process of writing to the Queensland government requesting that they now take the necessary steps to secure funding under this plan. It is vital that maintaining good health be the primary focus of everyone.

In conclusion, our thoughts remain with those who continue to be affected by the 2019-20 bushfire events. In January 2020 the National Mental Health Commission made mental health recovery a priority by announcing an investment of $76 million (AUD) to support the recovery of families affected by the 2019-20 bushfires. It is important that affected individual’s access, or that we continue to support others to access, the relevant support services.

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: April 2020

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

(photo credit:

Life for Queensland families has changed dramatically since our February report. In our April report we will take a look at what life at home now looks like in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report will provide details on a new Australian website for disabled women and girls, and finally, as with most aspects of life at present, this report will finish on a different note with suggestions that can support parents to foster their child’s engagement in learning and physical fitness during this period of isolation, and perhaps in a small way contribute to a household that does not descend into disorder and endless screen time.

Life at Home

Over the last month Queensland family’s microsystem has collapsed, and the macrosystems in Australia have profoundly changed. The broader exosystem’s of parents’ work, employers and employment, and teachers and teaching have changed. The separate microsystems of recreational activities, school, sport, and home have now collapsed into one place – home. Parents are experiencing extra strain as they either work from home, are now out of work, or working on reduced hours. Many are worried about their friends and extended family. For children there is no school, no hanging out in the holidays or after school, no visits to or from extended family, no team sports, no sleepovers with friends, and no large birthday parties or big Easter celebrations. For most children they have only the face to face company of their parent, parents, caregivers, or siblings.

Vulnerable Women and Children

Our February report focused on the devastating start to 2020 for many Australians with the 2019-20 bushfire events. Little did we realise what lay ahead for Queensland, Australia, and indeed the rest of the world in the COVID-19 pandemic. How quickly social norms have changed and again reiterated that in times of financial stress and isolation, family violence increases. The recent bushfire events served as a sharp reminder of the different issues affecting women and families. During disasters, women and children experiencing family or sexual violence have additional marginalisations including isolation, homelessness, disability, being culturally or linguistically diverse, or being LGBTQI+. There are now additional risks within the pandemic where families experiencing family violence are required to stay at home, whilst at the same time being separated from extended family, friends, and other protective networks. The Queensland State government has unveiled a $5.5 million dollar funding package aimed at responding to family violence amongst the COVID-19 crisis. Free child care has been announced and Accor, one of the nation’s largest hotel chains will be sheltering individuals fleeing family violence. We have not witnessed anything like this in recent history and life is not going to be the like it was for a while to come. Let us all be mindful to continue to check in through the use of technology on those most vulnerable.

Women and Girls with a Disability

On a different note, following on from our February report where we discussed submissions for the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability, we would like to mention a new Australian website established for women and girls with a disability. In Australia over 2 million women and girls have a disability. This group is one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in the country. With a wealth of resources on rights, safety and violence, sex and your body, personal stories, and much more go to

Fostering Children’s Engagement in Learning and Physical Activities

In conclusion, as with most aspects of life at present, this report will finish with an altered tact and focus on some suggestions that can support parents and caregivers to foster their child’s engagement in learning and physical fitness during this period of isolation. With all children there are different developmental needs, personality, and learning styles, and these are a few broad suggestions that can be tailored accordingly. It includes modelling as a parent, observational learning as a child, and using items that may already be available in the home, without spending a lot of money. Some suggestions:

  • There exists a seemingly endless choice of technology and apps that support children’s learning. There are drawing apps, collage apps, math’s, literacy, history, yoga, Zumba, martial arts, science websites, and apps that promote children to solve problems, build, or create. Many zoos, museums, and art galleries are now offering virtual tours. Many are free to access; however, parents need to be mindful of security and limits on screen time.
  • Continue to encourage reading, and aim to read with or around your children. Older siblings might also read to younger siblings and support parents by giving them some uninterrupted work time. You might read a recipe or an instruction book, and then do that activity together. You could read a dictionary and start a word bank of new words learned and their meaning. Even if children are reading books that may not be of great literary value, allow them some choice what they read. You could create a story map with characters, themes, and plots and get children to make predictions about how the story will end. You could get children to collect items from the garden, or in the house, and make a story using these items. Your child might like to start an online book club with their friends. Maybe they can design, write, and create their own book. They might also want to keep a journal about their experiences through this pandemic.
  • Board and card games can be a lot of fun. Jigsaw puzzles. Craft activities. Can a family member who can knit or crochet Facetime or Zoom and give a child one on one lessons? Can children make their own toys from items around the house? Maybe your child can write a letter to a friend or grandparent and attach photos.
  • Let children choose how they organise their play some days, or let them be the teacher for the day and decide on a topic to teach. For those with a backyard, siblings can play ball games together. Parents or children might like to set up an obstacle course that changes each day. Children might take more responsibility for looking after, feeding, and walking pets. Treasure and scavenger hunts – both designing and taking part in. Skipping rope, painting pebbles, using cardboard boxes to make castles for pets, egg and spoon races, ping pong or volleyball with a balloon.
  • Putting on music, listening to music, dancing or singing together, playing musical instruments, or making their own musical instruments. Maybe children can put on a weekly concert/show for their family.
  • Taking photos of items in the environment (other than themselves) and perhaps create a collage. Or have unstructured play where children use items around the house to come up with a game or creation.
  • If you have tent can children set up camp site in the back yard? Do they want to learn more about what is in their environment for example plants, insects, or how things work such as a toaster, the internet, their phone, or what is electricity or weather?
  • Cooking is a great opportunity to continue to learn about volume, mass, ingredients, what tastes good together, or what might not. Can children create menus for the week? Playdough is an old favourite but might be more difficult with restrictions on staples such as flour.
  • Gardening can foster patience (waiting for the seedling they plant to grow). And don’t forget the practical stuff like fixing a leaking pipe – letting them assist or watch how this is fixed. Don’t take for granted chores around the house, where children can collaborate, learn, and contribute.

Parents need to care for themselves and might like to set up a regular virtual coffee chat with friends or other parents. Parents might need to accept that the home will remain a bit messier than it might usually be, and be more realistic about what they will get done in a day. Try and create some level of routine sooner rather than later. Above all stay safe, stay well, and stay healthy.

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: November 2019

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

(photo credit:

Art Therapy Supporting LGBTIQ Youth

The Queensland Mental Health Commission funded Open Doors Youth Service to trial the PRIDE art therapy program in Brisbane, in which young people aged 12 to 24, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, sistergirl and/or brotherboy (LGBTIQ+SB) are given the opportunity to express themselves in new and different ways. This art therapy program supporting LGBTIQ youth in Brisbane has gone on to win a statewide mental health award in the 2019 Queensland Mental Health Achievement Awards.

Black&Write! Writing Fellowships

Black&write! is a national project with a dual focus on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writing and editing. It is the first project of its kind in Australia. In conjunction this national project offers two Black&write! Writing Fellowships annually to two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers. The fellowships include a prize of $10,000, editorial development and publication opportunities. Black&write! encourages lifelong learning and literacy, and fosters a love of reading, writing and ideas. The 2020 black&write! Writing Fellowships will open for applications in late 2019 (

Sexual Violence “Start By Believing” Campaign

The Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence, Southport has last month launched an important campaign aimed at improving responses to sexual violence. Research evidences that first disclosures generally happen to a friend or family member. Sexual violence can have long lasting and severe impacts on victims, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, suicidal behaviours, and chronic physical health problems. It is vital that responses and reactions support victim’s wellbeing and increase chances that they will report to law enforcement agencies. This campaign is embedded in a philosophical stance that guides responses of friends, family, and practitioners. For more information go to

The Queensland government has also launched its first framework to prevent sexual violence. “Prevent.Support.Believe. Queensland’s Framework to Address Sexual Violence”. A  whole of government action plan is to be released in 2020 (

Andrews-Hanson Family Law Inquiry

In the May 2019 CYF report I provided an overview of the findings from the Australian Law Reform Commissions inquiry into the family law system. At the end I noted “It is hoped that the Government  and all politicians will give careful consideration to these recommendations”. As has been evident in the last few months, this has not been the case. Instead the government has set up a further inquiry which is to be deputy chaired by Pauline Hanson. The Australian people were told to wait 18 months ago for the findings from Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry and now we are being told to wait another 12 months for the findings from the Andrews-Hanson inquiry. In the light of this new inquiry there are grave concerns moving forward that the family law system will become an even more dangerous institution for children.

Ms Hanson has been outspoken in her belief that women lie in family law proceedings. It is doubtful that women who have experienced family and domestic violence will feel comfortable airing their most traumatic stories before a politician who has already pre-judged them as liars. Over 13,880 individual letters have been sent to parliamentarians asking that this new inquiry be abandoned. And over 100 peak bodies and practitioners have signed a joint statement rejecting the legitimacy of the government’s new inquiry. The joint statement is also calling on implementation NOW of recommendations set out in the earlier ALRC inquiry. Jess Hill in an excerpt from her book “See What You Made Me Do” states  “Of the 87,000 women killed globally in 2017….30,000 were killed by an intimate partner, and another 20,000 by a family member. In Australia…one woman a week is killed by a man she’s been intimate with.”

People believe that the family law system is there to support women and children in family violence. Anecdotal and empirical evidence-based research put forwards a different perspective. In Australia today the myth that separation ends family violence remains just that a myth. Over the last decade I have interviewed  and spoken to many women about their experiences of family violence following separation. Over this time, I have also witnessed the struggles children have faced as they grew through adolescence and young adulthood having to continue to, either see, or be in the care of an abusive parent.

In September I presented my research findings into post separation family violence within the Australian family law system at the 3rd European Conference on Domestic Violence in Oslo, Norway. At the end of my presentation a lawyer spoke with me and said that she hears the same findings over and over again, and yet she is unsure of what she can do. So, what can she do? More importantly, what can WE do?

Together we must continue to advocate for women’s and children’s safety and rights. We need to listen. We need to listen to women and children who are experiencing family violence following separation. We need to not only listen, but we need to believe and support them. We need to advocate for them. We need to walk beside them and be prepared to walk beside them long term. And we need to start NOW. This is an urgent public health issue.


And referring to public health issues – which I note is stepping a little outside of context of this portfolio, I would like to draw your attention to endometriosis. Endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain which occurs for a period of at least six months in women. Women with this condition experience a variety of symptoms and it is currently treated medically and surgically. Around 7% of Australian women aged 25 – 29 years and 11% of women aged 40 – 44 are likely to have endometriosis, which affects many aspects of women’s lives from social activities, intimate relationships and friendships, work, education, and productivity. One study reported that the average cost on a personal and social level to women is around $30,000.00 per year, putting the total economic burden at $9.7 billion per year (Armour & Lawson). Last year Greg Hunt launched a national plan, however South Australia is currently the only state implementing the endometriosis education program in schools for girls in Years 9 and 10. We need to work with our state government to have the program made available to young women in Queensland. It is important that maintaining good health be the primary focus of everyone.

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: July 2019

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser


NAIDOC week was celebrated in July under the theme Voice. Treaty. Truth – working together for a shared future with a range of celebrations and activities around Queensland. July 2019 saw the launch of the National Indigenous Australian’s Agency which will be focused on working through the Reconciliation Action Plan adopted by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2018, to advise the office of the Prime Minister on whole of government priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Agency will take the lead and co-ordinate Commonwealth policy development, program design, implementation, and service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Queensland Rape Laws

Recent months also saw the Queensland government announce it will seek removal the 110-year-old loophole, the archaic ‘mistake of fact’ defence, that allows accused rapists to avoid conviction. The Queensland Law Reform Commission will consider this matter before making recommendations to the Queensland government in early 2020.

Reporting of Women’s Death in Family Violence

Sadly, a figure that is well known involves family violence where one woman a week is murdered by either a current or former partner in Australia. Greens Senator, Larissa Waters has now written to the Minister for Women, Marise Payne asking her to set up a national toll that tracks details of women killed by family violence, not unlike the National Road Toll.

Concerns – Queensland Children Being Held in Adult Watchhouses

Of further concern was the reporting in the news of the high number of children being held in isolation in maximum security adult watch houses, a figure which has reportedly surged over the last eighteen months. One such report involved a 12-year-old girl who had been kept there for nine days in a ‘suicide smock’. These children are normally detained when there is no room in youth detention centres. What is often difficult in these cases, is that these children are not serious offenders, but often victims of serious child abuse and neglect, and the subject of Child Protection Orders. Continued advocacy around these children is needed, with only available options at present, arguably causing more harm to these vulnerable children and youth.

Queensland Youth and Volunteering

Queensland as a state has the largest volunteering workforce and there is growing support for children and young people to volunteer in Queensland. Volunteering can be an important part of informal learning for young people and provide them with the opportunity to develop skills and experiences that support them in the work force later in life. Last year the Queensland Family and Child Commissioner undertook a ‘Growing Up in Queensland’ project which engaged 7,000 young Queenslanders aged between 4 and 18 years. Participants agreed that volunteering was a good way to gain skills and improve future employability, however they raised concerns over the need to be 18 years or older to volunteer. To address this barrier the Queensland Family and Child Commissioner and Volunteering Queensland are currently working with volunteering organisations to look at ways to increase youth involvement.

Family Law Reform

In conclusion, as was mentioned in the newsletter submissions have now been made at a State level in relation to reform within the Australian family law system. Since the reforms have been recommended the Australian Institute of Family Studies has been holding forums to discuss key reforms that are needed within the family law system. Change is needed and it is important that these issues, particularly as they relate to the safety of women and children remain front and centre of family law reform.

NCWQ Child Youth and Family Report: May 2019

The months are passing by quickly, Easter has come and gone, and the middle of the year is close. In the words of Dr Seuss “how did it get so late so soon?” This report sets out some upcoming family events, outcomes of the 2019 Federal Budget, brief discussion on recommendations handed down on 10 April 2019 from the Family Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into the Family Law Act, and changes in Queensland for 16 to 17-year-olds wishing to be vaccinated.

Upcoming Dates

5 May 2019                                         International Day of Families

5 May 2019                                         Applications close QLD Family and Child Commissioner – Recruitment for Youth Advisory Council (

15 May 2019 – 21 May 2019              National Family Week (

30 May 2019                                       Applications close NCWQ Bursaries

1 June 2019                                         Global Day of Parents

2019 Budget – Family Violence

Since the last report we have had a Federal election set for 18 May 2019. Partial Federal Budget funding leading up to the election includes $328 million over the next four years to fund prevention, response, and recovery initiatives as part of the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children (2010 to 2022). The Fourth Action Plan addresses different forms that abuse can take, with specific measures to address risks faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women with an intellectual disability.

Part of the $78 million for housing for women and children fleeing family violence was an amount of $10 million dollars allocated for Specialist Family Violence Services, that included couple-based counselling and dispute resolution services. Within this context front line services have raised concerns around safety issues for women in couples counselling and mediation.

The Government will also provide an additional $30.5 million over three years, in part to provide legal assistance services for those experiencing family violence, and $22.5 million for the establishment of the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Abuse. An amount of $10 million over four years will be invested in educating Australian children, parents, and teachers about how young people can stay safe online, with $7.8 million going towards the establishment of a National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders. 1800 RESPECT will receive $64 million to expand their services.

In relation to youth mental health and suicide prevention there is $461 million allocated.

In relation to education for children, the Federal government has provided $453 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement of Universal Access to Early Childhood Education to ensure that every child has access to a quality pre-school education for 15 hours a week before school. And at the other end, universities will receive $93.7 million over four years for scholarships for students who study at regional campuses.

What is missing however, is an increase to Newstart, an increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, and provisions for superannuation for Australians in unpaid care work, the majority of which are women caring for a child with a disability. There also continues to be a lack of action on issues such as women’s homelessness.

Australian Law Reform Commission – Final Report – Review of the Australian Family Law System

In 2017 the Australian Law Reform Commission received Terms of Reference to carry out an inquiry into the family law system. The key themes that emerged from this inquiry is that the family law system is unsafe, does not enforce parenting orders adequately, is overly complex, expensive, slow, and lacks accountability. The Final Report was presented on 31 March 2019 (“Family Law for the Future – An Inquiry into the Family Law System”) and provides a road map for improvements to the system of justice, and legislative amendments. The Final Report comprised 60 recommendations and can beaccessed at

Perhaps the most radical recommendation is the abolition of the Federal family courts. This would leave the State and Territory courts to make orders not only under the Family Law Act (1975), but also under State family violence and child protection laws. The other recommendation is the abandonment of the 2006 reforms that spoke to the option of shared care, or equal time arrangements. There is no question that a child benefits from having a close and continuing relationship with both parents following separation, however where there is family violence, mental illness, neglect, or other complex issues, children are left vulnerable to further abuse. This recommendation is relevant to Resolution 7 – Rights of the Child and Protection of the Child’s Interests endorsed by the NCWA within the Third Action Plan (2016-2019) of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children (2010-2022).

Other proposed changes to the Family Law Act (1975) include provisions for determining what arrangements would promote the best interests of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, and repeal of the requirement to consider the possibility of a child spending equal or substantial time with each parent. Property division has been simplified and there is a focus on encouraging amicable resolution between separating parents. Provision is made to assist parents to understand their final parenting orders and further supports in court, including an Indigenous Liaison Officer, and support for people with a disability.

Recommendation 50 proposes the establishment of a Children and Young People’s Advisory Board which would inform policy and practice about children’s experiences within the family law system. The ALRC also suggest that Section 121 of the Family Law Act (1975), which restricts publication of family law proceedings to the public, be redrafted. It is hoped that the Government and all politicians will give careful consideration to these recommendations.

Family Law and Vaccinations

For separating parents, under the current Family Law Act (1975) there is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. In these cases where parents have not agreed on medical procedures, parents have had to get orders from the court in order to get children vaccinated ( This has been expensive, time consuming, and has prevented children whose parents are separated from accessing services that are accessible to children whose parents are not separated. And although this will not assist separated families with younger children in overcoming these barriers, on 5 April 2019 the Queensland Government made the following announcement:

Teens Can Now Get The Flu Jab at Pharmacies

Queensland teens can now receive vaccines for highly contagious, preventable diseases from their local pharmacist. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Steven Miles said the changes would make it easier for 16 and 17-year-old Queenslanders and their parents. From tomorrow, Queenslanders from 16 years of age can now get vaccinated for influenza, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles at a pharmacy, previously only GPs could vaccinate under 18s.

“Queenslanders aged 16-and-over can get their vaccinations without parental consent, so these changes will make it much easier for them to access vaccinations like the flu shot. This will also make life easier for parents with teenage children.”

Mr Miles said the amendments also allow younger Queenslanders to make their own decisions about getting vaccinated. “This is a step in the right direction for Queensland to reduce the barriers for kids of anti-vax parents to gain access to vaccines for preventable diseases,” Mr Miles said “it also brings Queensland into line with other states and territories.”

As well as amending the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR), the pharmacist vaccination drug therapy protocol will be revised to specify that a pharmacist may administer the specified vaccines to a person 16 years and older, instead of an “adult” as previously stated. Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said pharmacists provide an additional opportunity for vaccination for people who would not otherwise get vaccinated.

In summary, there is progress that is being made, and at the same time much more work to be done. Together we must continue to advocate for women’s and children’s rights. Remember “when women support each other, incredible things happen”.

To suit up or skirt down: Can women do both?

By Bianca Banchetti

NCWQ Youth Adviser

“Women can’t have it all,” says Ann-Marie Slaughter, an international lawyer, foreign policy expert and passionate women’s advocate. At first, the feminist in me pulls out my lighter and prepares to burn my bra in protest … yet I can’t help hear the inevitable truth echoing in her words. In her 2012 article, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have it all,’ Ann-Marie shocked and challenged the feminist narrative, but exposed the true hidden dialogue I share with many young women through out the world.

“There has been very little honest discussion among women of our age about the real barriers and flaws that still exist in the system despite the opportunities we inherited.” Sadly, I agree with her.

I find myself thinking: in a male-dominated society, do I really have to wear the pants to be a woman in the modern world?

The 21st century has presented a stark challenge for young women wanting to join the leagues of success and affluence heralded by women like Oprah, Gloria Steinberg and Arianna Huffington. Spurred on by the brave suffrages of our past that have paved the way for us, we are told and believe we can and should ‘have it all’.

Statistics would point to a different ideal. In Australia, women will earn between $17,000 and $27,000 less a year than a man for the same work, with little over 15% of CEO positions and 27% of key management roles held by women. And change is only “inching” forward, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found.

As a young woman, it’s difficult to comprehend that the realities of the workplace still erode the values of equality and empowerment I hold so dear. As a fourth year Law and Journalism student, facing that truth is not far away.

In our goodhearted optimism, it is often forgotten that men wrote our economic, political and social structure long before the feminism movement emerged. Those structures are still in place and women are caught under the capitalist wheel, where the male narrative has become the norm.

At present, our economic structure doesn’t support woman’s responsibility to her home and her family. The workplace does not lend itself well to maternity leave, to flexible hours, to childcare and the like. And the competitive nature of the corporate world does not readily accept the compromise, kindness and empathy that women offer – although that adversarial environment desperately needs it.

While women have been given the power to vote, to participate and to choose, I find myself weighed down by the responsibility of that choice. The feminist movement gave us the opportunity to have both a work-life and a home-life, for which I am eternally grateful. But nothing changed for men. Their traditional role, as the breadwinner, remained the same. But women added to theirs and took on both the work responsibilities AND the home responsibilities.

For me it seems, with the current social stigma we have around men being ‘homemakers’ or stay-at-home dads, I have seriously contemplated not having children to pursue a career, or by some miracle find a man who would be willing to forfeit the macho stereotype and stay with our kids, so that I may be able to ‘have it all’.

The pledge for parity raises an all-too familiar conversation: women are not represented equally in the workforce either in leadership roles or salary. It’s undeniably a concern, but I believe it is a symptom of a much deeper societal issue that challenges the structure on which our economy stands; an issue that affects both women and men.

All of us need to make a pledge for equality, to advocate for a system that allows both genders to flourish. In policy terms, real equality means recognising that the work that women have traditionally done is just as important as the work that men have traditionally done, no matter who does it.

For our future, I hope I can do something today to see a world where women don’t have to make the choice between a suit or a skirt, but can wear whatever they choose and not have to be fighting the ranks in a ‘mans’ world, but simply be a human being asking for opportunity in ‘our’ world.

We spend a lot of time labelling the sexes in the female equality debate, creating a me versus you mentality. The conversation needs to be reframed in a broader context, in terms of ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘our’: Our work, our career, our home, our family, our happiness and that we can do it together.

Ann-Marie Slaughter said something that truly resonated with me, and is what caused me to put away my lighter and not reach for the clasp on my bra. She said, “Let’s make the feminist revolution a humanist revolution.”

My pledge for parity is to open up the equality debate and challenge the traditional stereotypes around both women and men. To achieve this, I want to insist on changing social policies and prevent women bending their career tracks so that our choices can be accommodated, too. We have the power to do this, and I believe there are many men standing alongside us.


Youth Issues in 2014

By Kirsty Levis

NCWQ Youth Adviser


Youth Week 2014 (

National Youth Week 2014 was held from Friday 4 April to Sunday 13 April under the theme Our Voice. Our Impact. Queensland’s Youth Week celebrations were coordinated by the Queensland Police Citizens Youth Welfare Association (PCYC), which received State Government funding to collaboratively plan, run and subsidise Youth Week events and activities in partnership with community organisations. Thirty-seven funded events were held across Queensland during National Youth Week this year. Dates for 2015 are Friday 10 April to Sunday 19.

Are U Safe Online? (

Being online has become a big part of everybody’s life; particularly for children who are growing up surrounded by the internet, computers, smart devices and gaming consoles that offer unlimited networking possibilities. With the power of these connections, it is important that children are educated about safe and positive ways to be online. Telstra and the Queensland Government have partnered to develop Creep Quiz: Are U Safe Online? The quiz has been designed to provide insight into the online world and highlight some of the pitfalls for the unwary. Lots of social media sites and apps require users to be 13 years and older; so as children approach that age, the pressure from friends to use social media intensifies. The Creep Quiz provides parents with an interactive tool that can be used with children to talk about digital lives. Aimed at children from 11 years of age, the quiz addresses a variety of activities across a number of social media platforms.

P.A.R.T.Y. – Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth



(            (

P.A.R.T.Y. is an in-hospital injury prevention program run out of various hospitals including the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Alfred Hospital and Nambour General Hospital. In 2009, 1361 young people aged between 15 to 19 years were admitted to Queensland Hospitals with trauma injuries. Young people in this age group are grossly over represented in injury and trauma statistics, both in terms of death and long term disability. Road trauma is still one of the most common causes of mortality and catastrophic injury in youth. When you attend a P.A.R.T.Y. program you will see what it’s really like to be a trauma patient. Through DVDs, PowerPoint presentations and interactive simulated clinical scenarios, participants will meet health professionals, emergency services personnel (e.g. ambulance officers) and people who have experienced trauma and survived often with significant disabilities. Dates for 2015 are now available.

Bust Out Youth (

The website is an example of a Collaborative Action Group project and was developed to better link young people and parents to the hundreds of support mechanisms available. The site also helps to resource workers who support young people and parents, so that they are aware of the supports available. The name for the website, Bust Out Youth was developed by a group of young people at the Redcliffe Area Youth Space. Bust Out is a slang term used by young people to mean; to withdraw an item; to escape; to accomplish a task; or, to use something.

 YWAM Youth Teams (

YWAM is an international movement that offers global opportunities for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to serve, care, build, and connect with individuals and communities. YWAM is decentralised in structure and financially autonomous. YWAM Townsville has operated for over 20 years with an aim to build capacity in young people and to develop the community.

Youth Street Live is jam-packed full of entertainment and opportunity to grow. The night is filled with live music, life stories, interactive games, Wii, skate sessions, and heaps more! Come and enjoy a cold frappe from our café! Our hope is to give youth a safe place to connect with positive influences, hang out with friends, and talk about real life issues. YMAM City Campus is the location on Saturday nights from 6pm to 9pm for youth aged 12-17 years with cost $5.


Queensland Young Australian of the Year Award

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, 23 – Engineer and social advocate (Sunnybank Hills)

Born in Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied moved to Australia when she was two and since then has devoted her extraordinary energy and talents to making Australia a better place. At age 16, Yassmin founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally. Yassmin has forged a hybrid career as an engineer, social advocate and media commentator and she is a sought-after candidate for state and federal councils. Yassmin has sat on the Australian Multicultural Council, the Board of the Queensland Museum and the Design Council, contributed as a member of the Federal Anzac Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group and was on the organising committee of the 2014 Youth G20 Summit. She was also the Team Principal and designer of the University of Queensland’s race team. A role model to many, Yassmin has been recognised with many awards. Her achievements across a number of fields provide positive proof that hard work, resilience and self-belief can reap rewards, regardless of gender, faith or cultural background.


Youth Beyond Blue (

Articles on youth mental health are available from 22 October 2014. Youthbeyondblue is offering schools and community groups a range of ready-made articles on youth mental health for use in publications, like school newsletters or on websites. Thanks to a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Melbourne, the stories have been written, and focus on each of the following topics – depression, anxiety, bullying, helping a friend and keeping well. Images designed to accompany the stories are also available. For more information, or to request a story and image, email


Schoolies 22-28 November 2014 (

The Queensland Government does not promote participation in Schoolies but seeks to enhance the safety and responsible behaviour of school-leavers at Safer Schoolies locations and to minimise disruption to local communities.


As part of the Safer Schoolies Initiative, a range of safety and support services will be provided at the key Schoolies destinations in Queensland. Each Safer Schoolies location has its own access requirements, but all require proof of student photo ID to take advantage of the free activities and support services available. Police, emergency services, security, volunteers and officials will maintain a highly visible presence, providing schoolies with medical assistance, general support and advice. Safety initiatives include wristbands or photo ID for identification, street patrols, walk-home services, schoolies-only areas, free water and medical assistance. The Red Frogs Australia Chaplaincy Network also provides support to schoolies in accommodation venues. Volunteers play a vital role in helping to keep school leavers safe.


Queensland Youth Orchestra (

A spectacular highlight of the Brisbane concert calendar, the QYO Finale Concert is a “best of 2014” presentation by each orchestra and ensemble in Queensland’s world class youth orchestra organisation on 1st November 2014. 470 musicians aged 9 to 25 perform in seven orchestras and ensembles: three symphony orchestras, two wind orchestras, a string orchestra and a big band. The program includes a variety of repertoire, representing the culmination of a year of rehearsals, sectional tutorials, music camps, tours and concerts.   The QYO Finale Concert is a great event for music lovers of all ages due to the wide variety of music, short durations of the individual performances, early start time of 7pm and in particular, the high quality and enthusiasm of the musicians.




The National Youth Awards is an Australian Government initiative that is in keeping with the original intention and purpose of National Youth Week – to celebrate, acknowledge and recognise Australia’s youth. The Awards acknowledge the outstanding achievements by young people on behalf of young people. Do you know a young person that works hard for their community, shows amazing courage or helps promote cultural understanding? Head over to the youth week website to nominate them!

An individual can apply for the Awards themselves or can be nominated by someone. To be eligible for an award you must be between the ages 12-25 as at 16th April 2015. Applications open 10th October 2014 and close 27th November 2015 at 12pm.

Brisbane Youth Service Daggy Jumper Day – 6th June 2014 (

Annually in June show your support for Brisbane’s homeless youth by heading out in a jumper that has, until now, been for your eyes only. Workplaces or individuals can register, be sponsored by friends and family and help ensure at-risk young people are warm every winter and have a bigger and brighter future. Check out the website for how the money helps Brisbane’s homeless youth.

QLD Youth Strategy Ambassadors 2014


Nominations opened 15th April and closed 2nd June for the 2014 Youth Ambassador Program. The Queensland Government was seeking six enthusiastic young people aged 12 to 21 years, to become ambassadors for the six areas of connection in the Queensland Youth Strategy – family, friends and social networks; education, training and employment; health and wellbeing; volunteering and participation; supports and services; and arts and culture. The Queensland Youth Strategy Ambassadors program aims to showcase the achievements and contributions of young Queenslanders who are working hard to reach their potential and being positive role models for their peers, family or community, in line with the goals of the strategy. Each Ambassador will receive a $1000 bursary for personal or professional development, and will be supported to attend a personal development workshop in Brisbane.

Full report available here: NCWQ_YouthAdviserReport_Nov2014

Youth Adviser Report February


 By Kirsty Levis

NCWQ Youth Adviser

Youth Week 2014 (

National Youth Week 2014 will be held from Friday 4 April to Sunday 13 April and the theme is: Our Voice. Our Impact.   Youth Week is coordinated by Queensland Police Citizens Youth Welfare Association (PCYC), which receives Queensland Government funding to collaboratively plan, run and subsidise Youth Week events and activities in partnership with community organisations. This year PCYC will be running a Small Grants Program to provide funding to support organisations to deliver events in National Youth Week.

GoGetta Job – Jobs for YOUth (

GoGetta Job’s Vision is to be a one stop portal for teenagers, their parents, schools and employers in providing access to job opportunities, information and support that assists youth gain employment.  Employers have been especially catered for. In making it easy for them to list jobs and access relevant information. Never before has it been more simple to employ Australia’s youth.

Their aim is to be the No. 1 website in Australia for jobs and information specifically designed for youth between the ages of 14 and 20.  Support and feedback will help them achieve this. ‘Together we can change the lives of young people – One Youth at a Time.’

Sunshine Coast Youth Partnership Inc (

The Sunshine Coast Youth Partnership (SCYP) is designed to reduce disadvantage and cyclical poverty by maximising the potential of young people on the Sunshine Coast and the capacity of organisations to support them. The SCYP focuses on partnering with community services, business, Government, schools and the general community to facilitate Capacity Development of a comprehensive and cooperative community based approach to support young people in all areas of community life, learning, development, employment, culture and recreation.  The SCYP receives base funding from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and secures grants and sponsorship to fund its activities in the community.

Youth Arts Queensland – Young People Creating Queensland (

Every day young people across Queensland are tirelessly creating, facilitating and supporting countless events, festivals, exhibitions, performances, shows, workshops, venues, companies, organisations, projects and initiatives.  Although these things are happening every single day, the effort, time and resources young people pour into their creative ideas and artistic visions often go unnoticed by the wider community. Young People Creating Queensland is setting out to change that.

Young People Creating Queensland was launched in November 2009 with an overwhelming response and support.  This unique profiling website is continuously gaining members who have connected with other artists and organisations, been involved in amazing projects and have gained incredible experience within the industry.  This project is dedicated to raising awareness of the work young people do around the state and crediting the effort they put into shaping the arts and creative industries in the state.  Young People Creating Queensland functions as a directory of young creative Queensland. It’s the best place for community members, industry representatives and young artists to look for local talent!

BCC Youth Strategy 2014-2019 (

Brisbane City Council have released their Youth Strategy 2014-2019: Delivering a youth-friendly city

This Youth Strategy 2014-2019 is an integrated whole-of-Council approach to ensure they continue to be an organisation that values and includes young people in the life of Brisbane.  Their vision is for a city where young people are healthy, resilient and confident young citizens who actively contribute to a better Brisbane.  They are committed to working with young people, the community and other levels of government to ensure all young people who live, work, play and/or study in Brisbane are engaged, empowered, included and celebrated.

The Centre for Volunteering (

The Centre is able to put organisations in touch with individual or groups of young people who are very keen to get involved and contribute to their community in a volunteer capacity.  Some will be doing so as part of a school/university community involvement program which means that key insurance requirements are possibly covered by the educational facility.  Research shows that young volunteers can benefit an organisation in numerous ways, including:

  • Develop a base of future supporters
  • Increase awareness about sector issues and the organisation
  • Develop a giving mentality/philanthropy
  • Build inter-generational connections
  • Youth volunteers are pro-active and have a positive attitude
  • Bring new talents/fresh ideas to the organisation
  • Connect you with new communication technologies

Queensland Government Statements

  • Next round of road safety grants open – Friday, January 31, 2014

  • Help for wayward youngsters – Thursday, January 30, 2014

  • Newman Government delivers Action Plan – Tuesday, December 31, 2013

  • Road safety grants support practical projects – Tuesday, November 05, 2013

  • Queensland Week sponsorships spread celebrations state-wide – Thursday, October 31, 2013

YWAM Youth Teams (

YWAM is an international movement that has over 50 years experience in more than 150 countries worldwide. YWAM is a Christian charity that offers global opportunities for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to serve, care, build, and connect with individuals and communities. YWAM is decentralised in structure and financially autonomous. This allows each centre to adapt and to serve the specific needs of the community.  YWAM Townsville has operated for over 20 years with an aim to build capacity in young people and to develop the community through four focus areas: Training, Medical Ships, Youth Teams, and Operations. YWAM values individuals’ rights to quality of life.  The shared motivation is to provide people with:

  • Access to good health care
  • Food, drinking water, and shelter
  • Opportunity for education
  • Expression of culture, arts, and entertainment
  • Healthy relationships
  • Exposure to Christian faith and values
  • Fair and productive government
  • Opportunity to work and develop


Australian Youth Against Cancer (

Australian Youth Against Cancer is a group of passionate and dynamic individuals brought together to change the fate of young adults with cancer (18-35).  It was established as a not-for-profit organisation in January 2010 with a shared vision for a better world for young adults with cancer and is a fully registered charity with DGR status.  Australian Youth Against Cancer was founded by Chris Boyd following his own personal experience with a rare form of head and neck cancer in 2009. Throughout his short time receiving treatment at Sydney’s RPA hospital, Chris observed the distinct lack of support available for young adult cancer sufferers and set about to create an organisation which created awareness and practical solutions to this problem.


AYAC’s connection with youth is an important aspect of the charity. Cancer is not a disease that just affects older Australians. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare article Young Australians: Their Health & Wellbeing 2007 reported that between 1993 and 2002, the annual cancer incidence rate increased by 10 per cent in the 12-24 year old category.  AYAC has since grown into an exciting and dynamic fundraising engine for lifesaving national cancer treatment and research projects. In 2010/11 AYAC has been proud to support the remarkable work being undertaken in pursuit of the vision of the late Professor Chris O’Brien – The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA.   Lifehouse will be a world-class comprehensive cancer centre, bringing together treatment, research, education and support in one incredible new facility.


Youth Advocacy Centre (

YAC can assist young people with legal hassles including being charged with breaking the law or child protection issues, problems at home or school, lack of accommodation and/or income, being the victim of a crime, discrimination issues and general hassles.  All services offered are VOLUNTARY AND CONFIDENTIAL. This means that YAC only works with a young person if they want to work with YAC staff and no contact is made with anyone (e.g. families, teachers, police, other adults) without the young person’s permission. YAC also tries to link young people up with other services in the community that can assist them.

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