International expert on child protection to present important research findings in Newcastle

1 August 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter (FISH) has collaborated with the University of Newcastle’s Family Action Centre, Life Without Barriers and TAFE NSW to facilitate the presentation of new research from an international expert on the role of
poverty in the child protection system.

Brid Featherstone, Professor of Social Work at Huddersfield University in Northern England, will share key findings from a large UK-wide research project into the experiences of families who have had contact with child protection systems when she speaks at TAFE in Newcastle on Wednesday, 1 August.

According to Professor Featherstone and her colleagues in the UK, poverty and deprivation were the largest contributing factor to children’s contact with child protection systems. Children from the poorest 10 per cent of neighborhoods were ten times more likely to be removed from their families relative to the most well-off 10 per cent. Despite this, there is very little assistance given to families to help them maximize their income, manage debts or maintain stable and affordable housing.

The research will be introduced by University of Newcastle Family Action Centre’s Professor Alan Hayes, who will speak about the social and economic context of child protection in Australia, and how Professor Featherstone’s findings can be applied in our context. This will be followed by a presentation from Ms Felicity Kime, a parent leader from FISH.

Professor Alan Hayes said: “Children and young people in the out of home care system in
Australia, like in the UK, come from families facing complex challenges. These include factors that flow from life in disadvantage and poverty, that are barriers to reunifying with their families and impede life chances and opportunities.”

Life Without Barriers Practice Lead for Children, Young People and Families, Jessica Cocks, said, “We are really pleased to collaborate with our partners in Newcastle to bring an international expert like Professor Featherstone here to present her evidence on such an important issue.

“Our experience in out of home care shows us that poverty and entrenched disadvantage are key issues to address if we want to reduce harm to children in the community and reduce the numbers of children in the care system. If we can support families to overcome poverty, we will be better able to protect children.”

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