New child protection non-legal advocacy and support service opens for families

New child protection non-legal advocacy and support service opens for families

Monday, 29 October 2018

Our new pilot non-legal advocacy and support service opens tomorrow to clients in Darebin and Moreland in Melbourne, with the service to open in Bendigo soon.

Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) provides early support to families who are involved in the child protection system.

It prioritises families who have not yet been to court and focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and those with parents with intellectual disabilities.

Advocates work with clients to identify their own goals and to identify their needs. Advocates can:

  • provide information about the child protection system and the rights and responsibilities of children and young people, parents and carers
  • support referrals to legal and other appropriate support as determined by the client
  • develop self-advocacy skills through coaching and identifying tools to support clients to speak up
  • engage in direct advocacy with professionals where appropriate.

Robyn Buchanan, IFAS’ Senior Advocate, said new client referrals were welcomed.

‘We hope that this advocacy model will lead to some families achieving positive negotiated outcomes, without having to go to court, and support them to build their own capacity to advocate for themselves,’ said Robyn.

Executive Director Family, Youth and Children’s Law Nicole Rich said IFAS would play an important role in assisting the most vulnerable within the child protection system.

‘We are engaging in this work to better support young people, parents and primary carers before they get to court, and to improve their understanding of their situation, rights and responsibilities.

‘The service has been developed in response to strong feedback from young people and parents who have told us they want support earlier, as well as help accessing the supports needed to keep children safe,’ said Nicole.

We are monitoring the service and will use the evidence and feedback to further improve service delivery. We have also established an advisory group with people with lived experience of the child protection system, who will inform the ongoing development of the pilot service.

IFAS is one of 36 actions endorsed by Victoria Legal Aid after an extensive review of our child protection services last year.

Access the IFAS service

Phone toll-free on 1800 849 200. IFAS is open Monday 9am to 12pm, Wednesday 1pm to 4pm, Friday 9am to 12pm.

Email ifascontact@vla.vic.gov.au

More information

Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS)

For more details on the service, contact IFAS Manager Helen Makregiorgos at helen.makregiorgos@vla.vic.gov.au or (03) 9093 3711 or Senior Advocate Robyn Buchanan at robyn.buchanan@vla.vic.gov.au or (03) 9280 3830.

Hear more from Nicole Rich on why child protection is a focus at Victoria Legal Aid.

Read Explainer – Why children, young people, parents and carers need earlier help with child protection

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