M’Lynda Stubbs has been working as a registered health practitioner with children and families for over 30 years. She has project-managed the Child and Family Centres in Tasmania and is currently Centre Leader of a Child and Family Centre in Hobart. M’Lynda uses her training in health and education, and passion for collaborative partnership models, to lead innovative early intervention strategies, build parenting capacity and strengthen community social capital to provide best outcomes for children.
Working at the frontier: innovative ways to improve access and outcomes for at-risk families (Interactive Workshop)
Participants in this workshop will take home insights from innovative approaches to reaching families with vulnerable children, relevant to policy, management and front-line work. Offering prevention and early intervention for Australia’s at-risk children is not enough: access is key, but often difficult to achieve with the most vulnerable families. This workshop looks at approaches that have moved away from seeing families as ‘hard to reach’ and instead, implemented strategies that make services more accessible. To increase access, the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009) advocates an integrated response from services and professionals, working in partnership with families to deliver long-term, positive change and improve children’s safety and wellbeing. Impactful partnership involves skilful and innovative work at, or just beyond, the frontier. This means going beyond routine practice, existing knowledge and experience, and standard procedure. Such work makes access an assertive, ongoing and often spontaneous process of dynamic outreach and responsive engagement with families in communities as well as a planned and strategic one. Access can be understood as both a prerequisite and an outcome, pursued along multiple strands and requiring flexible, connected work by professionals, services and organisations.
This workshop will present evidence-based examples of frontier work in Tasmania’s Children and Family Centres and South Australia Women and Children’s Health Network emerging from a larger three-year ethnographic research study of early childhood services involving observation and qualitative interviews with professionals and families. Foci include assertive outreach and continuum of engagement approaches. Participants will explore the principles that underpin such work from policy, manager and frontline perspectives and take away concrete strategies that can be adapted to other contexts now and into the future.