news & media

06 June 2017: Media Release - ACT Budget 2017-18

Broadcasting sporting matches or housing homeless families: can’t Canberra do both? 

The ACT Budget’s $1 million increase to homelessness services is overshadowed by the allocation of $11.6 million to upgrade Manuka Oval’s broadcasting facilities.

Families ACT Executive Officer Will Mollison says the money committed for new media and broadcasting facilities at Manuka Oval shows that there is money to be spent in the ACT, and we should be directing more to services that support the growing number of homeless Canberra families.

“We congratulate the Treasurer on the ACT’s improved Budget position, and believe this should be reflected in addressing the growing gap between those who enjoy Canberra’s prosperity and liveability, and those at the bottom of the ladder,” Mr Mollison said.

“It’s winter in Canberra, and while women escaping domestic violence are sleeping in cars with their children, we are still waiting for a strategy to address homelessness and housing affordability. The community sector has been asking for action for three years, and in that time the number of people without safe shelter continues to grow.”

On a positive note, Families ACT is glad to see the ACT Government has listened to concerns from community organisations and child health professionals about the need to provide greater mental health support for children in the Middle Years, those aged 8-12.

The $1.17 million commitment to expand the Primary School Intervention Program (under CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) will increase counselling services to primary school-aged children who are showing early signs of mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

“Families ACT has been concerned about the gap in services for primary school-aged children, particularly those aged eight to 12, which is one of the most crucial development stages in a person’s life,” Mr Mollison said.

“This is a common-sense prevention and early intervention investment. A huge body of research shows that the Middle Years are the next best opportunity, after early childhood, to address issues that can become more serious in the teenage years, and entrenched in adulthood.

For further details please contact:

Karen Hall, Media & Research Officer

Phone: 0414 818 541  Email:


08 February 2017: Media Release from Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Rachel Stephen-Smith

Sold-out forum to discuss development in the Middle Years

Families ACT will tomorrow host the Middle Years Forum, bringing together experts from the research, medical, education and community sectors to discuss how children develop between the ages of 8 and 12.

The ACT Government is pleased to support Families ACT to host this forum to highlight the importance of the developmental period in children between 8 and 12 years old. This is an important period for young people, characterised by rapid physical and mental development.

We know the needs of children, young people and their families change over time. Tomorrow’s important discussion will feed into ongoing work on better supporting families as children grow and develop.

The forum will provide an opportunity to hear about the latest research and policy thinking, including research into children’s wellbeing and work that’s been informed by young people themselves.

Speakers and panel members include Professor Gerry Redmond from Flinders University; Professor George Patton from the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne; Debbie Noble-Carr from the Institute of Child Protection Studies at the Australian Catholic University; and former ACT Children and Young People Commissioner, Alasdair Roy OAM.

The Government is committed to working with the community sector to look at better collaboration on services for young people who are in the last years of primary school and those entering high school.  

The fact that tomorrow’s forum is sold out is an indication of how seriously service providers, academics and policy makers are now taking the need to get a better handle on children’s needs in the middle years.

Further information on the forum can be found on the Families ACT website

Find Minister Stephen-Smith's release here.

Middle Years Forum – 9 February, 2017

The middle years of children’s development – the years between 8 and 12 – have been described by leading child development researcher Gerry Redmond as a period of "benign neglect", characterised by a lack of dedicated research data and critical gaps in funding for support services.

Families ACT is hosting a Middle Years Forum on THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY, 2017. The forum will bring together experts from the research, medical, education and community sectors to discuss how children develop between the ages of 8 and 12, and how to ensure they and their families get the support they need during that crucial period of growth and development.

Speakers and panel participants will include:

Professor Gerry Redmond, Flinders University

Professor Redmond’s research focuses on child poverty and inequality and children’s rights, with a particular focus on middle years. He is the lead researcher on the Australian Child Wellbeing Project (

Professor George PattonRoyal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Professor Patton is an expert in young people’s physical, social and emotional development in middle years. He is working on the CATS (Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study) which is tracking more than 1200 young Victorians and their families from Year 3 through to late secondary school, looking broadly at the course of development – educational, social, emotional – through these years and the factors that influence adjustment across all of these areas. 

Alasdair Roy, OAM

Former Children & Young People Commissioner with ACT Human Rights Commission. Currently in practice as Consultant Psychologist and advisor to government and non-government organisations on child rights, consulting with children and young people, statutory advocacy, adolescent mental health, care and protection, youth justice, street-based outreach and support, policy development and with children and young people who sexually offend.

Debbie Noble-Carr, Institute of Child Protection Studies

Debbie has just completed a PHD on how children aged 8-12 conceptualise loss. She has also researched how children form self-identity.

 The Forum will comprise a morning and afternoon session. Professors Redmond and Patton will speak during the morning, while the afternoon will be devoted to interactive panel discussion. A full program of speakers and panel discussions will be available closer to the date.

The Forum is open to all, but discounted for Families ACT members. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for the discounted rate, see our list of members.

22 December 2016: ACT Budget Submission

Families ACT’s submission to the 2017-18 Territory Budget highlights the need for greater equity and improving the lives of vulnerable Canberrans. In our view housing and homelessness are the priority social justice issues.

The submission emphasises that other support services for disadvantaged Canberrans can only be fully effective if their housing needs are addressed first. Other key issues covered in the submission are domestic and family violence and education.

07 June 2016: ACT Budget media release

Read Families ACT's media release on the 2016-17 ACT Budget here.

10 May 2016: Families ACT 10th birthday celebrations

Families ACT recently celebrated our 10th birthday, a great opportunity to reflect on our work over the past decade and acknowledge the ongoing support of our members, Board and Advisory Council over the years. We're looking forward to another 10 years representing the interests of children, young people and families in the ACT.






03 February 2016: Domestic and Family Violence Briefing Paper released

Families ACT recently released a paper on Domestic and Family Violence research. The paper provides an overview of local and national research relating to domestic and family violence. It also makes recommendations for future action, based on priority issues identified by local service providers. Download the report here

29 October 2015: Families ACT 2016-2017 ACT Budget Submission 

Families ACT has released its Budget Submission for the ACT 2016-2017 Budget. View the submission here

15 October 2015: New Media and Research Officer at Families ACT

Kate Stevens is the new Media and Research Officer at Families ACT. Kate joins the organisation with over 5 years experience in the not for-profit-sector, with a background in online communications and media production, advocacy, training and research. Kate is passionate about social justice and the respect for and promotion of human rights for all people. Kate is excited to be a part of the Families ACT team and can be contacted at

Families ACT has Resources for members to borrow - Safe from the Start Resource Kits 

Safe from the Start is an innovative, early intervention and evidence based project initiated by The Salvation Army, which has won the top National Crime & Violence Prevention Award in 2011 and a Child Protection Award in 2010.

Developed in partnership with two universities (UTAS & Swinburne) a research study 'States of Mind', was undertaken by Dr Erica Bell and covered the impact and specific needs of children aged 0-5 who witnessed family violence.

The research demonstrated that children being exposed to violence in the early years can suffer severe effects on brain development and increases the risk of adopting violent behaviour, addictions to alcohol and drugs and mental health issues later in life.

The Safe from the Start action research project was developed by Dr Angela Spinney (Swinburne University, Vic.) resulting in a training program and therapeutic resource kit.  Nationally over 1000 people have participated in training and over 600 resources kits have been distributed within Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and Singapore.

The Resource Kit Includes special topic books, puppets, CD, DVD, cards and a Hints & Tips Guide and instructional DVD on how to use the kit's resources. Three of these kits are available for members to borrow.

June 16 2015: Families ACT Forum on Domestic Violence

Families ACT brought members and other experts working in domestic and family violence together for a half-day forum on domestic violence, with the aim of identifying best practice in the sector. The forum panel suggested a specialised family violence court and magistrate, as well as increased community awareness and ownership as necessary steps in addressing the issue and increasing support for victims of violence. 

The Forum and its outcomes were covered by the Canberra Times and ABC news:

Domestic violence court could help victims recover: Families ACT Forum (Canberra Times)

Domestic violence expert panel call for dedicated family violence magistrate, court in ACT (ABC News)

18 May 2015: Launch of Report on Parenting Programs in the ACT

On Monday 18 May, Families ACT launched its report on Parenting Programs in the ACT.

The report:

  • documents current knowledge about evidence-based programs
  • highlights critical considerations for service providers for selecting and implementing evidence-based programs
  • details findings of research that aims to better understand
    • the range and type of parenting programs delivered in the ACT
    • the target groups service providers aim to reach
    • what is working well
    • what could be improved
    • universal (whole of population) and targeted (at risk populations) programs used in the ACT

Read the media release.

Read the full report.

Families ACT has Resources for members to borrow - Managing to Collaborate 

Managing to Collaborate is a book by by Chris Huxham and Siv Vangen, UK researchers into partnerships. This is a great reference for those involved in collaboration, providing a practical and systemic approach to managing situations in which people have to work collaboratively with those in other organisations. 

Chris Huxham is known internationally for her research on collaboration, she has worked for almost 20 years with people from all sectors involved in networks, partnerships and alliances. Siv Vangen is a leading international researcher known for her cutting edge, award winning research into the governance, leadership and management of inter-organizational collaboration. Their book, Managing to Collaborate: The Theory and Practice of Collaborative Advantage brings together their extensive experience to create a useful, practical, one-stop resource covering topics such as:

  • the principles of the theory of collaborative advantage
  • managing aims 
  • membership structures and dynamics 
  • issues of identity
  • using the theory.

We have two copies to lend to members.

Practice Framework Project

In April 2013 Families ACT completed the Practice Framework project. The work commenced in January 2011 and involved both design and piloting elements.

The Practice Framework provides community services with an approach and a range of practice prompts which promote reflection, innovation and continuous improvement of services.

It aims to increase cohesion across the sector, improving access to services for vulnerable children, young people and their families in the ACT, by providing a common set of rules, procedures, language and understanding of practice standards among workers and agencies.

The Framework emphasises the importance of child/young person and family focused practice principles, as well as embedding a strengths-based philosophy towards service users. In a broader sense, the Framework highlights the importance of collaborative practice (both within agencies and across the sector), evidence-based and reflective practice and service user knowledge. Read the project report 

A New Approach to Funding Community Sector Organisations

Families ACT has completed a paper examining current and potential approaches to funding family support services delivered by community sector organisations. The paper acknowledges the attraction to government of competitive tendering, but identifies a number of negative consequences. The paper makes recommendations to about how the processes of competitive tendering might be improved. Read the paper