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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8, celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is an opportunity to make a commitment to gender equality and to acknowledge the contributions women are making to our community.

For 2021, UN Women announced the theme for International Women’s Day as “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of strong leadership and in Western Australia we have been extremely fortunate to have a strong woman, Simone McGurk, at the helm as our Minister for, among other things, Child Protection.

Only 53 women have been members of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly since establishment in 1890, only winning the right to vote in 1899 and the right to stand as candidates in 1920. This year is particularly significant, marking the 100 year anniversary of the first successful female candidate in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, Edith Cowan, who was the first woman to be elected to Parliament in Australia.

Currently only 31.6% of WA Members of Parliament are women, and with a large and important portfolio, Minister McGurk has proven the impact and importance that women have in the parliamentary system.

Simone McGurk first assumed office in 2013 as the WA Member for Fremantle and in 2017 was elected as Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services in the Western Australian Government.

Across her Ministerial Portfolio, Minister McGurk has been involved in and directly lead many important projects that have had and will continue to have a great impact on the Western Australian community. Some notable highlights include;

  • As the first dedicated Minister for Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence, Simone introduced; 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Against Women. The 16 Days in WA initiative seeks to raise awareness; increase positive actions; and highlight organisations, agencies, communities, and individuals working to end violence against women.
  • In her role of Minister for Women’s Interests the Minister launched “Stronger Together: WA’s Plan for Gender Equality”. The first plan of its kind in this state, Stronger Together is a long-term approach to addressing gender inequality in Western Australia.
  • As Minister for Community Services, announced a second “Common Ground” facility to be built in Mandurah. The Common Ground facilities provide support services along with safe and permanent housing to people with complex needs experiencing homelessness to help them stay off the streets.

It is, however, the role of Minister for Child Protection that has the greatest impact on the work we do here at the Foster Care Association, and the carers and children we work with. In her four years in the role, Minister McGurk has taken great strides to address some major issues and worked hard to implement change which will have a long-term positive impact. Notable highlights in this area include;

  • A commitment of $150,000 in funding to the Foster Care Association WA to increase the level of support for foster carers in response to the Refresh Project.
  • Initiating and then extending the Homestretch trail to extend the provision of formalised care to children in state care until the age of 21.
  • Implementing the Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot, to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and child protection systems.
  • Introducing the ‘Myview’ app. to make it easier for young people in out-of-home care to get support in response to the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
  • A $4.3 million commitment to the WA Centre for the Pursuit of Excellence in Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect and contribute towards a National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse along with other States and Territories.

Over her four years in office, Minister McGurk has worked closely with key stakeholders across community sectors, including the Foster Care Association WA. She has proven accessible, reflective, and insightful offering a considered approach that is responsive to carer issues. As a minister she has been an asset to the Western Australian community, as a woman she is a strong role model and example of the benefit of having women in positions of leadership.

Although it has been 100 years since a woman first held office in Australian Parliament women remain underrepresented in key leadership positions. We, as a country and across the world, have come a long way but we have so much further to go in achieving gender equality. The recovery phase of the pandemic provides an opportunity to contribute to changing workplaces and community culture and attitudes. The first step is understanding the issues and the role you can play. To learn more – visit www.communities.wa.gov.au/IWD.

 #IWD2021 #womeninleadership #IWD2021WA

Health Care Planning

Chapter 3.4.11 of the Casework Practice Manual (Health Care Planning) has been amended to include the following:

All requests by foster and family carers (carers) for medical assessment must be considered by a District office and a decision to proceed and/or fund the request must be made within 20 working days.

In instances where a decision cannot be made within this timeframe, for example, if further information is required, the district workers have been instructed to inform the carers. Carers should be given this information and provided with an opportunity to discuss the outcome of their request and talk through any suggested next steps.

Where a request for assessment will not be supported, a clearly documented rationale, endorsed by the District Director, must be provided to the carer, unless it is already included in the child’s care plan or modified care plan. Carers should be provided the opportunity to discuss the decision to ensure transparency and development of a shared understanding of the rationale.

Decisions that involve the child remaining on a waitlist for public services should also outline additional supports for the child and carer during the interim period. Where significant wait times apply for assessment or services, decisions to fund private services should consider the need to support and maintain the care arrangement and the significant cost, and potential further impact on the child, of this care arrangement breaking down. 

$1000 Grant Opportunities Available For Young People Leaving Care

In July 1981, upon his death, the proceeds of Mr John Connor’s estate created a charitable trust of which Centrecare was the beneficiary.  It was his wish that the funds be used for young people leaving care to assist then transitioning to independent living.

The fund has now been renamed and relaunched as the Centrecare Youth Fund.

To be eligible for a grant of up to $1,000, a young person should be

  • aged 15-18 years; and
  • have been in out of home care and transitioning to independence.

All the information is now available on the Centrecare website and once received, applications are reviewed by the Director and submitted to the Board for approval.

Centrecare won’t give cash grants and prefer to assist with the purchase of goods and services for recipients to ensure they receive maximum benefit.  The funds can be used in a variety of ways including: 

  •  Vacuum cleaners, washing machines, televisions.
  • rons, kettles, toasters, and various kitchen appliances.
  • Bedding, pillows, quilts, blankets, towels
  • Cutlery, crockery, pots, frypan.
  • Bond for University accommodation and rent assistance for two months.
  • Dining suites, beds, and mattresses.
  • Laptops for young people going to study at University and TAFE.
  • Electrical work on a granny flat to allow a foster child to remain with the family but retain their independence.
  • Connection charges for moving into residential accommodation.

If you would like to know more, please contact Carolyn Vitek at Centrecare on 08 9325 6644 or cvitek@centrecare.com.au