The 2011 NSW Child Protection and Wellbeing Interagency conference, co-hosted by NSW Health and the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (AWCA), was held on 29 – 30 November 2011 at Crystal Palace, Luna Park Milsons Point.
The conference was a huge success, with maximum capacity reached. The conference attracted 500 delegates from across NSW and interstate, from government and non-government agencies.
The conference took place two years into the reforms that were established to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families under Keep Them Safe, the response to the Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection in NSW.
The conference aimed to address four themes:
- What was our challenge?
- Have we changed practice and systems?
- Have we strengthened partnerships?
- What challenges remain?
These themes provided opportunity to showcase various KTS initiatives operating across NSW including Family Referral Services and Child Wellbeing Units; to review how implementation of the reforms was progressing; and importantly, to assess the challenges that still remain.
There was a high response rate to the conference evaluation survey, with approximately one-third of delegates provided feedback.
Keynote speakers Prof. Marianne Berry and Assoc Prof. Leah Bromfield, both from the Australian Centre for Child Protection, challenged delegates with evidence about child protection and wellbeing from Australia and overseas, and assessed a range of policy responses.
A key message that delegates took from Prof. Berry was the tension and imbalance in the system between keeping children safe (child protection focus) and ensuring their wellbeing. Prof. Berry’s presentation was the overwhelming highlight of the conference for most delegates, with over 95% of conference survey respondents saying they learned something they could use in the future.
Another keynote speaker, Mr Bill Pritchard, CEO of AbSec, observed that KTS was headed in the right direction; however, there was more work to do to support and build capacity of Aboriginal organisations, especially in the provision of out-of-home-care.
The conference survey results revealed that attendees found the conference highly informative and beneficial. If another conference was provided, 73% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would attend.
A list of conference PowerPoint presentations from both days are available on the Keep Them Safe website. (Please note: not all session slides are available.)