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Creating better outcomes for every child in Australia

27-29 July 2021 | Hilton Darwin

The number of children receiving child protection services in Australia has continued to rise at the rate of 12% over the last 5 years. Numerous inquiries have concluded that failures in child protection services’ timely responses are due to many factors such as, demand at the front end of child protection services, families receiving too little too late in the form of intervention and a rising population of children in care coupled with lack of suitable placements. 


This forum will provide a space for attendees to build strategies, showcase and disseminate knowledge about current research and innovative practices with the intention of replicating success, building greater capacity and recognising the contentious issues the delivery of services confronting all Australian states and territories.  


Akolade’s 4th National Child Protection Forum 2021 will bring together diverse stakeholders, including representatives from governments, civil society, legal and justice, community services. to discuss and advocate for a strong policy and implementation on protecting children.  

Attend this forum and learn how to:

Demonstrate the benefits of collective action in achieving clear positive outcomes for children 

Develop a strategy to accelerate the implementation of existing commitments related to children 

Recognise the importance of harmonious integration within multiple systems 

Develop collaborative and trusting partnerships with the Indigenous community to deliver impactful support services 

Build strategies for prevention and early intervention processes for better outcomes


Sally Sievers

Acting Childrens Commissioner
Office of the Children's Commissioner NT

Liana Buchanan

Commissioner for Children and Young People
Commission for Children and Young People, Victoria

The Hon. Linda Burney

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Member for Barton, New South Wales
Australian Government

The Hon Michelle Landry MP

Assistant Minister for Children and Families
Australian Government

Helena Wright

Executive Director Programs and Engagement and Arts and Culture
NT Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM

Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce

Suellyn Tighe

Grandmothers Against Removals NSW

Nicole Hucks

Assistant Commissioner
Office of the Children's Commissioner NT

Lesley Richardson

Director Connected Beginnings
Department of Education NT

Carol Ronken

Director of Research

Deirdre Cheers

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths

Chief Executive Officer

Reegan Barber

Chief Executive Officer
Child Abuse Prevention Service

Cheryl Schmidt

Chief Executive Officer
Foster and Kinship Carers Association NT

Annette Michaux

Parenting Research Centre

Grainne O’Loughlin

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Dianne Jackson

Chief Executive Officer
Key Assets

Sammy Bruderer

Manager Queensland

Natalie Siegel-Brown

Managing Director
Child Wise

Jacqueline McGowan-Jones

Chief Executive Officer
Thirrili National Indigenous Postvention Service

Caroline Carroll OAM

Alliance for Forgotten Australians

Amelia Ayris


Kelly Humphries

Bravehearts and Child Safe Australia

Gerry Georgatos

National Coordinator
National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project

Meron Looney

Manager Northern Territory

Dr Margaret Spencer

Director of Field Education
University of Sydney

Tim Moore

Senior Research Fellow
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Adj. Prof. Tony Pietropiccolo AM

Centrecare Inc.

Teresa Jayet

Chief Executive Officer
Malle Family Care

Chris Forbes

General Manager
Malle Family Care

Mandy Rossetto

Family Coach
Family by Family Uniting Communities (SA)

Sherie Lethbridge

Kununurra Youth Facilitator
Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation

Desmond Hill

Chief Executive Officer
Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation

Jacob Keeler

Social & Emotional Wellbeing Worker
Uniting Communities-Aboriginal Community Connect

Lola Akinloye

Social & Emotional Wellbeing Worker
Uniting Communities-Aboriginal Community Connect

Danielle Parra

Manager Birth Family Advocacy Support Service
Australian Red Cross


8:00 AM | Registrations Open  


8:30 AM | Welcome to Country 

Aunty Bilawara Lee – Larrakia Elder 


8:50 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair 

Gerry Georgatos, National Coordinator, National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project 


Examining government policies and legislations 


9:00 AM | Opening Keynote – The impacts of service system responses, and a global pandemic, on vulnerable children and young people 

  • A Commissioner’s perspective on the issues impacting vulnerable children and young people, particularly those engaged in the Child Protection and out-of-home care systems 
  • The importance of system reform to stop children from falling through the gap between statutory child protection and voluntary child and family support services 
  • The impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and young people and lessons from the Victorian experience 

Liana Buchanan – Commissioner for Children and Young People, Commission for Children and Young People, Victoria  


9:40 AM | Ministerial Address – S𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗿 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗙𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗔𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗮’𝘀 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗿𝗲𝗻   

  • Discussing the successor plan 
  • Understanding the priorities for the new National Framework 

The Hon Michelle Landry MP, Assistant Minister for Children and Families, Australian Government 

*Virtual presentation 


9:50 AM | Keeping a child in care rather than taking them out of the system 

  • Identifying the pathways for an exit plan 
  • Exploring cultural plans as a pathway for kids to exit the system 
  • Discussing the main causes children enter the system 

Aunty Suellyn Tighe – Co-Founder, Grandmothers Against Removals NSW 

10:30 AM | Morning Tea 


Collaborating with community

Chair: Gerry Georgatos, National Coordinator

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project


11:00 AM | Case study  Developing cross-sector partnerships to effectively integrate services and improve outcomes for children and families 

  • Identifying and connecting with potential partners to support and enable holistic strategies to succeed 
  • Setting strong foundations that lead to thriving partnerships 
  • Co-designing services and service delivery 

Teresa Jayet – Chief Executive OfficerMalle Family Care 

Chris Forbes – General Manager, Malle Family Care 

*Virtual Presentation


Developing prevention and early intervention models

Chair: Kelly Humphries, Ambassador

Bravehearts and Child Safe Australia


11:00 AMPreventing child abuse and neglect: re-envisioning the environments of young children and their families 

  • Reducing the incidence of child abuse and neglect by focusing on the early years 
  • Using a nurturing care framework for children and families as a guide 
  • Re-envisioning the environments in which families are raising young children 

Tim Moore – Senior Research Fellow, Murdoch  


11:40 AM | Case study  Safer communities for children – keeping children safe and thriving through a shared community responsibility in protective behaviours education  

  • Using primary prevention approaches to create greater awareness of the role of adults to keep children safe and enhance wellbeing  
  • Creating a sustainable, adaptive and practical whole of community approach to protective behaviours programs  
  • Supporting children to have a voice and understand their rights to safety and wellbeing 

Sammy Bruderer – Manager Queensland, NAPCAN 

Meron Looney – Manager Northern Territory, NAPCAN  


11:40 AM | Children’s Research Institute 

Examining past conundrums and contemporary social policy  

  • Discussing what evidence has shown us and what we have learnt from past experience 
  • Examining the lessons for social policy from the promise of the National Centre and its implementation 
  • Ensuring that the experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse inform future policy and practice in child protection 

Caroline Carroll OAM – Chair – Alliance for Forgotten Australians 




12:20 PM | Lunch 



12:20 PM | Lunch 


1:20 PM | Case study  – Working together with communities to support reunification and provide early intervention response to keep families connected 

  • Supporting clients to rehabilitate from alcohol and drugs and help them build a case for reunification 
  • Providing social and emotional wellbeing support using a holistic approach 
  • Ensuring cultural safety and providing cultural support by the way of family kinship and reunification 

Jacob Keeler – Social & Emotional Wellbeing Worker, Uniting Communities – Aboriginal Community Connect 

Lola Akinloye – – Social & Emotional Wellbeing Worker, Uniting Communities – Aboriginal Community Connect 


1:20 PM | Keeping kid’s safe means keeping women safe too  

  • The intersection of domestic and family violence and child abuse 
  • The need for programs that recognise the unique circumstances of CALD communities 
  • The importance of having a supportive, non-judgmental approach 

Reegan Barber – Chief Executive Officer, Child Abuse Prevention Service 


2:00 PM | Educate, empower, protect: Combating child sexual assault and exploitation in Australia.  

  • How Australia has progressed, over the past 25 years, in how we address and talk about child sexual assault and exploitation 
  • Ways to effectively reduce child sexual assault and exploitation in our communities 
  • Working together to protect children and young people from sexual harm: the importance of meaningful engagement and collaboration 

Carol Ronken – Director of Research, Bravehearts 


2:40 PM | Growing the focus on safeguarding the youth for positive long-term outcomes

  • Discussing our holistic community approach
  • Identifying current youth needs and gaps in service
  • Development of Alternative Education Programs to improve youth engagement and access to services

Sherie Lethbridge, Kununurra Youth Facilitator, Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation

Desmond Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation


2:00 PM | A peer support early intervention program improving outcomes for families 

  • How the lived experience of families can prevent children from ending up in the child protection system 
  • Working cross-sector in a complementary way to achieve better outcomes 
  • Keeping support for families going through Covid-19 

Mandy Rossetto – Family Coach, Family by Family 



2:40 PM | Case study

Addressing the over-representation of children and parents with disabilities in the child protection system

  • Reforming child protection policy and practices to align with the UNCRPD
  • Building the capacity of child protection system to engage families experiencing disablement
  • Reimagining and resourcing parenting differently

Dr Margaret Spencer, Director of Field Education, University of Sydney

3:20 PM |  Afternoon Tea 


Examining government policies and legislations 

3:50 PM | Case study – The importance of maintaining the momentum of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse  

  • Evaluating the outcomes of the Royal Commission and its key recommendations 
  • Discussing the past, present and the future risks associated in the public’s mind 
  • Maintaining the momentum of the Royal Commission and familial as well institutional abuse 

Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM – Chair, Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce  

*Virtual presentation 


4:30 PM | Developing permanency planning policies that focus on safety and stability  

  • Discussing methods for quick and successful placement decision
  • Analysing the out-of-home care system dynamics and trends
  • Developing strategies to focus on family-led communication for the best interest of the child 

Deirdre Cheers – Chief Executive Officer, Barnardos 


5:10 PM | Mindfulness activity 


5:20 PM | Closing remarks from the Chair and end of day one 

Improving systems for better outcomes   

8:00 AM | Registration opens


8:45 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair  

Gerry Georgatos, National Coordinator, National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project 

9:00 AM | Opening KeynoteShould we burn it to the ground and start again? What would a child protection system look like if its foundations were trauma recovery of both child and parent, at the neural level?

  • Examining how the current child protection systems may even be ‘generating some of their own demand’
  • Discussing how to use our drivers for human behaviour to rethink our systems of child protection
  • Can we base our system foundation on the neurodevelopmental recovery of the child, and that of a parent

Natalie Siegel-Brown – Managing Director, Child Wise 


9:40 AM | Ministerial Address – Addressing priorities in protection of children in Australia 

Linda Burney MP Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Member for Barton 

*Virtual presentation 


9:50 AM | Panel discussion – My story is one of too many  

  • How to change the long-standing culture of silence  
  • Discussing ways to provide safe trauma-informed support systems to save lives and prevent abuse 
  • Focusing on way to provide better support to encourage to report abuse  

Amelia Ayris – Ambassador, Bravehearts, Actor 

Kelly Humphries – Ambassador, BraveheartsAuthor  


10:30 AM | Morning Tea 


11:00 AM | Panel discussion  Cultural security in practice: the NT’s approach to improve cultural responsiveness and support aboriginal self-determination 

  • Why improve cultural competence and reshape child protection practice in the NT? 
  •  Implementation of the NT cultural security framework to embed culturally safe and responsive service design and delivery 
  • Strengths and challenges of the framework 

Sally Sievers – Acting Childrens Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner NT 

Lesley Richardson – Director Connected Beginnings, Department of Education NT 

Helena Wright – Executive Director Programs and Engagement and Arts and Culture – NT Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities 

Nicole Hucks – Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner NT 


11:40 AM | Case study – Keeping children safe and improving outcomes using evidence-based programs  

  • Discussing the benefits and outcomes of several evidence-based programs in Australia 
  • How to effectively match an evidence-based programs to a target cohort 
  • Improving your leadership through using evidence-based decision making in practice 

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths – Chief Executive Officer, OzChild 


12:20 PM | Lunch 


1:20 PM |Case study – The Key Care Team: An evidenced-based approach to providing trauma-informed care 

  • Describing Key Assets Australia’s Key Care Team approach in the context of Intensive family engagement support 
  • Linking evidence to practice 
  • Exploring a practice example 

Dr Dianne Jackson – Chief Executive Officer, Key Assets 


2:00 PM | Mindfulness activity 

2:15 PM | Culturally Responsive Supports for Children and Young People in Out of Home care

  • Culturally responsive supports that are available
  • Importance of connection to Culture, Land and Family:  Culture is not a luxury, it is a necessity
  • Kinship carers and its importance

Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Thirrili National Indigenous Postvention Service


2:55 PM | Afternoon resfreshments


3:25 PM | Every child is valuable, so why do we accept child poverty in Australia?  

  • Analysing the existence of child poverty in Australia 
  • Understanding the negative impact of poverty on a child’s development and life outcomes  
  • Exploring barriers and possible solutions to addressing child poverty in Australia 

Adj. Prof. Tony Pietropiccolo AM – Director, Centrecare Inc.  


4:05 PM | Panel discussion – Putting children first  

  • Looking at ways of prioritising the safety and wellbeing of our children 
  • Reflecting on the previous years and providing solution for the better outcomes 
  • Discussing what needs to be the focus of our attention 

Annette Michaux – Director, Parenting Research Centre 

Cheryl Schmidt – Chief Executive Officer, Foster and Kinship Carers Association NT 

Deirdre Cheers – Chief Executive Officer, Barnardos 


4:45 PM | Closing remarks from the Chair and end of day two 

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Workshop A  

Developing safer relationships: informed families creating change 

The Red Cross Birth Family Advocacy Support Service works to connect families and workers, building more positive and effective working relationships for the benefit of the children. Service staff educate families on Child Youth Protection Service processes so that families are better able to engage with the system; developing skills to meaningfully, and in an informed manner, make decisions for the best interests of their children.  

This workshop enables participants to learn new skills supporting communication with families, develop collaborative ways of working and address systemic issues within child protection that help mitigate the traumatic effect of being involved. The journey into the world of the parent is one that the Service is passionate about sharing, to support the work of engaging parents, in the best interest of children.   

Attend this practical workshop and: 

  • Know new ways of working with families involvedwith child protection is changing the system
  • Understand relationship-based practice tools
  • Learn what the court experience is like fromfamilies’ perspective
  • Learn why informeddecision makingbreaks the cycle of child protection over generations 
  • Understand how to mitigate the traumatic impactof the system for both families and workers



Danielle Parra – Manager Birth Family Advocacy Support Service, Australian Red Cross 


12:00 – 1:00 PM | Lunch


1:00 – 4:00 PM | Workshop B  

Extending child and family practice – how to use telepractice to open up new options for families 

Telepractice is the use of telecommunications to deliver parenting support and other services remotely. It draws on the experiences of telehealth and can involve synchronous (eg virtual home visits) and asynchronous (e.g. email, text) approaches. The rapid pivot to telepractice by community services during COVID gave us insights into how technology and telepractice offers a range of valuable benefits relating to convenience, access, participant choice and quality of care, extending our supports to families in new and innovative ways.  

Its early days and the evidence on the effectiveness of telepractice is still emerging.  This workshop will draw on the emerging evidence for telepractice as well as what PRC, Karitane and other partners in telepractice projects have learnt about telepractice. The workshop will use interactive strategies to explore the following practical topics?  

Attend this practical workshop and: 

  • Understand what is telepractice? How relevant is it to my context? How can practice can be enhanced with telepractice? 
  • Know when to use telepractice and with which families 
  • Understand the role of agencies in bridging the digital divide, including practical strategies 
  • Understand how to build practitioner confidence in using telepractice as part of the continuum of care 
  • Know what are the key advantages and disadvantages of telepractice and what this means for your practice and organisation 



Annette Michaux – Director, Parenting Research Centre 

Grainne O’Loughlin – Chiel Executive Officer, Karitane 


Early bird discount

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Register 3-4 delegates and receive an additional 10% DISCOUNT off the current price
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Register 8 or more delegates and receive an additional 20% DISCOUNT off the current price

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