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Department of Human Services

Supporting and Strengthening our Workforce

A very large number of families reported to child protection have multiple and complex needs. (Source: DHS (2019) Early Intervention Research Directorate: Summary Report of Research Findings, March 2019, 7.)

It is common for child protection concerns to be interrelated with issues such as domestic and family violence, parental drug and alcohol addiction, unaddressed physical and mental health needs, homelessness, disability as well as low income and long-term unemployment. The combined impact of these cause significant family stresses, making it much harder for families to provide safe, secure and nurturing environments for their children.

New CFSS service models have been developed to provide appropriate levels of support to children and families to address this level of complexity.  The models also include the requirement for targeted and early intervention services to work with a greater level of risk than previously provided so that children can remain safe at home with family, community, and culture. As a result, change is required within organisations and across the system and with new ways of working together.   The workforce across the sector will be instrumental in delivering and testing these new service models designed to better support keeping children and families safe and well.

As identified in the CFSS co-design process, it is important to therefore consider, how to best support and strengthen the workforce in this new space?  What does this mean for practice? For example, what are the skills and expertise that will best enable practitioners to effectively support families when:

  • Families may be fearful of letting services into their lives and be reluctant to engage
  • Practitioners are responding to higher levels of safety risk than what they may have previously worked with
  • working with multiple and complex combinations of risk and protective factors is the norm
  • Intergenerational and complex trauma is present
  • Cultural safety considerations are required.

It is also important to work out how to support and build the resilience of the workforce to undertake this important work which whilst rewarding can also be emotionally demanding.

The CFSS Reform has already identified several other strategies to support and strengthen the workforce and practice such as building evidence-based practice and specific discipline skills via the development of Practice Guides and Training Resources for CFSS system providers.

The proposed Community of Practice model will now also provide additional CFSS Reform strategies to support:

  • The sharing of practical experience, skills and ‘on the ground’ knowledge of how to respond in differing and complex circumstances for the best interests of children and families.
  • Privileging the voices and experiences of Aboriginal practitioners and lived experience representatives
  • Engagement with key agency partners – workers and leaders in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisations, Education, Housing, Health, Domestic and Family Violence services, Disability, SA Police, and Child Protection services.
  • Bringing key partners together to continuously engage in reform activities and sector wide problem solving to better support children and families most at risk.

Questions:
How will this important practitioner knowledge and capability be captured to enhance the sector as a whole?
How will leaders be engaged in sharing learning and collective problem solving across the sector?
How will the workforce be supported to keep doing this important work?

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Workforce Benefits

The benefit of a CFSS Communities of Practice model is that it provides opportunities to support the workforce by:

  • Ensuring the Aboriginal co-design principles are implemented and “lived”
  • Including additional opportunities for lived experiences to be considered
  • Assisting in the continuous co-design and improvement of the CFSS recognising and valuing practitioner skill sets and capabilities
  • Connecting service providers across the sector
  • Addressing common practice and system issues.

Practitioners can build networks, to support each other and find workable solutions to challenges identified during the reform process. It will also help develop and align evidenced based best practice across the CFSS sector using a practitioner lens to translate to the context of the CFSS Reform.

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Page last updated : 27 May 2021

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