OOHC resources and tools
Charter of Rights, Section 90 applications, conversation guide for children and young people, and common principles for contact
Common principles for contact
The contact principles are a component of the Safe Home for Life Reform, which have been developed as a best practice guide to support child centred contact planning. They were developed by The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) as a co-design project with the input of relevant peak bodies, our OOHC partners, representatives of the legal profession and carers.
Through the 2 co-design workshops with the Out-of-Home Care sector 6 common principles for contact were developed and then designed by the workshop facilitators, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI). These 6 Common Principles for Contact are designed with the purpose of supporting our practice across the sector to be a consistent and child focussed approach to contact for children and young people in OOHC.
This paper reviews the consultation and research journey that has occurred throughout the development of the Common Principles for Contact project. The issues paper outlines the contact principles, how we can improve contact in the best interest of the child, the co-design workshops, the challenges of contact and transforming practice.
Practice resources are specific contact tools developed by the Office of the Senior Practitioner (OSP) and are also included to assist front-line workers to support kids in care. These resources include links on the Case Work Practice site that focus on ‘working with kids in care’, and will be available to whole of sector staff in 2017.
When a child or young person is placed in OOHC practitioners might find that ‘Safe Contact’ promotes a collaborative approach with parents, children and safety network members to plan for safe contact. The purpose of Safe Contact is to build a practice framework for enduring safety.
Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is a family-focused, strengths-based form of alternative dispute resolution. It brings family and professional together to talk about concerns for children and young people, identify available supports and decide the best way forward. Participation by a family in a family group conference is voluntary. The process is confidential and is facilitated by an impartial facilitator.
If a contact dispute arises for a child or young person in OOHC the NGO should work with FACS to follow the required Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) process for resolution. The use of ADR in contact disputes seeks to create a less adversarial practice that is more focused on the child or young person and their family.
As part of case planning identifying important people related to the contact experience is important. Decisions about the type, level and frequency of contact should also reflect the case plan goal and be in the best interest of the child.
Ideally, contact visits should be held in an environment that is safe, comfortable and relaxed without to many distractions. It is important to involve the people having contact in decisions about the venue. When contact occurs monitoring the effectiveness of arrangements is necessary. This may include observations, but also includes talking to the child or young person, their family and their carer.