26 September 2022

From the carers to staff, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the conference.

Life Without Barriers' staff, carers and foster children spent the last few days learning, connecting and presenting at the 2022 International Foster Care Organisation (IFCO) Conference in Darwin!

Life Without Barriers had a very popular booth and also presented on five different topics across the conference.

Exhibition Booth with staff and people.

1. “Building bright futures through education and learning, Every day, Every way.

Presented by Clea North and Michelle Murray, Education team

An outline of the framework within the 4 pillars of the strategy: Lifelong Learners, Confident Caregivers, Purposeful Partnerships and Focused Organisation

In their presentation they provided Carer insights and engagement in the Education strategy and information about the current Hook into Books program. Clea also shared strategies for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples perspectives in education, support and connection.

Clea North presenting to a room of people.

2. It takes a Village - The importance of parent, carer, and case manager relationships in reunification

Presented by Shannon Goodridge, NSW Practice Lead, and Rebecca Reed (FBC NSW), Carers Beth and Darren and parents Sarah and Beau.

  • The panel discussion led by NSW Practice lead with five participants: two parents, two carers, and a case manager explored the concepts of CARE as the approach to build family inclusive practice for children.

  • Shared how the Carers took up the role of allies and advocates for the parents, and how this positively improved reunification outcomes for children.

Saturday 24 September 2022 - It takes a village presented by Rebecca Reed and Shannon Goodridge Life Without Barriers.

3. Yarning together: co-designing CARE cards to support reflective practice that embeds children’s rights to connection with family, community and culture.

Presented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leads Pamela Thorley and Leoni Lippitt and Practice Project Specialist, Grant Williams.

A workshop around the Life Without Barriers CARE cards. The group activities were facilitated by Leoni, Pamela and Grant and all participants had the opportunity to engage with small group conversations!

IFCO conference on Saturday 24 September 2022. Leoni, Grant or Pam presenting to a crowd.

4. A lot of children don’t get heard, children do tell the truth and no one hears them: actioning the voices of children in care.

Presented by Dr Belinda Mayfield and Mina Staunton.

  • This workshop focused on a Life Without Barriers project to develop and evaluate a comprehensive recruitment and assessment framework, together with a training package and practice resources for staff undertaking carer assessments.

  • The workshop included looking at key messages from the research about risks and early warning signs, dispelling commonly held myths about the risks of child sexual abuse and how we can better assess, educate and support Foster Carers.

"It was brilliant to have such strong Life Without Barriers representation and all sessions were standouts and well attended!" Shared Dr Belinda Mayfield.

"A key unifying theme across all the presentations was how Life Without Barriers implementation of the CARE model is changing and strengthening our practice, based on CARE’s six evidence-based principles."

Presentation on Saturday 25 September 2022. Dr Belinda Mayfield speaking. She asked how many carers were in the room and nearly everyone raised their hand.

5. MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ - Connecting Carers, Children and Families in Community

Presented by Chris Skinner, Simone Mather, Dr Helen McLaren and Michelle Jones (Flinders Uni) and carers.

  • An interactive workshop with an overview of this model, the initial research findings of its implementation and interaction with a panel of carers, practitioners, researchers, and departmental representatives involved with the Australian MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ experience. This was complemented with research observations of outcomes associated with microsystem strengthening for the foster carers, and children and young people, involved.

“It was a joy and privilege to be a part of the IFCO Conference this year. Engaging with child-focused carers, families, practitioners and departmental representatives was energising and many resounding with our community-based approach to foster and kinship care through MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™." Shared Chris Skinner, Manager Practice Advancement & Implementation - MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™.

"I am hopeful for better outcomes for kids in care with what I saw and heard.”

Chris Skinner presenting for MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY.

As well as the booth and sessions, Life Without Barriers also had an interview station set up by the Education team with Clea and Megan.

"I had the privilege of recording the stories of the people of IFCO through our Human Library. What a vibrant, diverse and passionate bunch of humans!" Shared Megan Hall.

"Thank you to IFCO for hosting us, and to those who shared their story with me."

Megan and Clea sharing our Hook into Books with attendees. Standing in front of two Hook into Books banners.

Life Without Barriers is proud to have been a sponsor of this year's event.

More info: “Finding Ways Forward: Celebrating Identity, Culture, Families and Community”

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