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Multicultural Family Support Service - Early Intervention
Report 2004-2005

Project Officer: Amela Polovina

 

The Multicultural Family Support Services (MFSS) – Early Intervention is a pilot project designed and funded by NSW Department of Community Services - Early Intervention Program, to improve outcomes for immigrant and refugees who are Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders, and other migrant families who are vulnerable or at risk of domestic violence and child protection problem.

The primary focus of the project is to provide intensive flexible support tailored to the specific needs of the each family, including, culturally appropriate casework; counseling; crisis counseling; ongoing center-based support, home-visiting and outreach service; out-of-hours service; provision of information, options and referrals relating to family support and parenting services as well as referrals for other issues related to settlement (housing, financial assistance, legal issues, etc.)


MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS AND TRAININGS

The project worker organized MFSS Steering Committee meetings, attended and participated in DoCS meetings, Blacktown/Mt.Druitt Migrant Interagency, TPV Project Steering Committee meetings, DV Network meetings, Blacktown/Mt. Druitt Child Protection Interagency. ‘Creating School and Community Partnerships’ Workshop, as well as, workshops “Pathway to Communities”– Working with Emerging Communities (Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, Afghanistan), Cross-cultural DV Training (CCDV) and DV Provision in Immigration Law (DVP).

PROMOTION OF THE PROJECT AND NETWORKING

By establishing close relationship with the local area services and government departments, we developed sound network and support mechanism. The project was promoted and expanded our reach through the various networks we have established by distributing the project’s promotional materials to relevant organisations and agencies. The following were activities undertaken to promote the service:
Agency visits to the Police stations, Centrelink of fices, Community Health Centers, Blacktown City Council;
Organised information sessions and interviews on radio program for Tamil community;
Participated in: Blacktown Community Service Expo; TPV Holders Festival (Karabi) for TPV holders and refugees; Multicultural Family Festival Quakers Hills (Family Community Centre and Wesley Mission), Blacktown/Mt. Druitt Child Protection Interagency,
Blacktown/Mt.Druitt Migrant Interagency, Open Day at DoCs Blacktown, Open Day at AMEP Blacktown, Open Day Auburn Migrant Resource Centre Consultation with service providers and stakeholders on Families and the Law in Australia (Family Court), etc.

Participation:
- as requested by the Ethnic Child Care, Family and Community Services Coop, the Project Officer helped in developing the ‘Kids Safe” Information Sheet
- in the Focus Group that reviewed Child Protection Policies and Procedures at DoCS.
- client visits in Blacktown Hospital’s Social Services Department

Result of promotion and project and networking:
More than 50 service providers are aware of the project. 240 newly arrived refugees, TPV holders and other migrants are aware of the project

CASEWORK

The Project has assisted women and families from a number of different cultural backgrounds (See Table: ‘Ethnic Background of Clients’) who are facing a range of very complex issues.

Needs and issues identified from casework are in regard to:
Immigration (TPV and other Temporary Visa issues, legal requirements for taking children out of country, DV Provision etc); Domestic violence and child protection (verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse); Family matters (parenting, relationship counseling, separation); Accommodation (Short and medium term accommodation as well as long term public housing); Legal advice and information (family law, divorce, custody of children, separation, obtaining an AVO, etc); Financial (referral to Centrelink and charities); Health (mental health, addictions, women’s health issues); Drugs and Alcohol issues; obtaining culturally appropriate services and appropriate interpreting service for smaller and emerging communities in cp and DV situation.
Case Consultations:
The Project Worker held case consultations with the TPV Worker at the Karabi Community Development Service, Domestic Violence Officers (Parramatta, Holroyd, Penrith, Bondi Junction, Mt. Druitt Police Station), Social workers at Blacktown, Westmead and Concorde Hospital’s Social Services Department, Blacktown Migrant resource Centre-Families First Team Leader, Baulkham Hills, Holroyd and Parramatta

Migrant Resource Centre-Settlement Worker, Family Worker at Association of Bhanin El-Minieh, and other MRCs, Principal and Public Liaison Officer at Blacktown and Westmead Public Schools, Workers at STARTTS, Court Support and Caseworkers at Burnside Auburn, and Bernardos, Case Workers at DoCS Early Intervention Teams, Refuge Workers at various Women’s Refuge Services.
Referrals are coming from:
NSW Police Dept., Community Health and Family Centers, Women’s Refuges, Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (IARC), Health professionals, Legal Aid, Solicitors, Department of Housing, Charity organisations, women who surfed IWSA website, DV Help Line, DoCS Early Intervention Teams, MRCs, Centrelink, Hospitals, Friends of clients, Colleges and TAFE, KU Services, and various Community organisations .
Referrals were made to:
Women’s Refuges, IARC, RACS (Refugee Advice and Casework Services), Community Legal Centers, Legal Aid, Women’s Legal Resource Centre, Mental Health Clinics, D&A Support, Community Housing, Department of Housing, Gay and Lesbian Service, Anglicare, various charity organisations.

From October 2004 to the present, the Project Caseworker provided services to 67 clients through casework, advice, support, referral, counselling, home visit or other services. Graph 2 (Interviews) and Graph 3 (Case Profile) shows a part of statistical picture of the casework done.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS

We would like to thank the NSW Department of Community Services for recognizing the pressing and urgent issues and needs of refugees, temporary visa holders, and other migrants and their families, and most importantly for taking action and deal with these issues. Special thanks to DoCS CPO Billie Sankovic who has supported us until recently when she moved to another work, Patricia Darvall, first CPO of the Project and to David Poulier, our current CPO.

I also would like to thank each and every staff member, members of MC and special thanks to our Executive Officer Jane Corpuz-Brock, Chandrika Subramaniyam (former Project Caseworker) and Soraia Rocha e Sousa (former Project Caseworker), as well as members of Project Steering Committee for all their patience and continuing support. I am hoping that the Steering Committee members will provide their support until the end of the project.