Biographies

NEW Research to Practice Seminar - The road home

Learn more about the seminar speakers

Norma Ingram

Norma is a Wiradjuri woman born in Cowra NSW. Norma a Masters of Education from Harvard University and has over 35 years of direct industry experience in education, training and serving Aboriginal communities. She has held a number of roles including Senior Aboriginal Coordinator at TAFE and managing training programs at the University of Technology Sydney as well as providing corporate training programs for the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. Norma’s dedication to her community has been demonstrated through various roles including CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and the NSW State Aboriginal Land Council, and board member of Murawina Pre-School, Wyanga Aboriginal Elders Program, the Indigenous Land Corporation and NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, and as a member of the Indigenous Advisory Group at UTS.

Professor Elizabeth Fernandez

Elizabeth Fernandez is a Professor of Social Work at the School of Social Sciences, at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW. Elizabeth has been conducting research and teaching in the areas of child abuse and neglect, trauma, out of home care, family violence, care and protection and field-based learning for over two decades – and is a leading researcher in relation to restoration of children who have been removed to their parents. Elizabeth Fernandez has worked on a number of ARC Linkage Grant projects studying the child, family and service factors related to reunification outcomes, and the process and circumstances in which family reunification will likely result in safe and positive outcomes for children.

Today, Professor Elizabeth Fernandez will be providing an overview of what the research says about the predictors and outcomes of restoration.

Rhys Thorpe

Rhys Thorpe is a social worker and counsellor who has been working with children, young people and families for more than ten years. He has experience working in supervised contact and foster care sectors, and more recently undertook a PhD through the Institute of Child Protection Studies. Rhys is part of an ARC Linkage Grant study investigating models of contact between children in out of home care and their birth parents.

Today, Rhys will be presenting on his research investigating young people’s perspectives of contact with their birth family.

Felicity, Tammy and Natalie from Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter (FISH)

FISH began in 2014 when a group of people in Newcastle who work with families realised that many children in out-of-home care do not have the opportunity to have good relationships with their families. FISH recognised that there are lots of ways that parents and families can be more included in the child protection and out of home care system and in the lives of their children in care. In 2014 the group organised a practice forum for practitioners, parents, carers and anyone interested in family inclusion. About 60 people attended and the group decided to keep working together to improve the experience of children in care and their families. The group includes parents of kids in care, as well as workers.

Today, we have the privilege of having two parents and a worker from FISH with us. Felicity and Tammy have personal experience of having children removed and returned, and continue to work with FACS towards restoration outcomes for their family.  Felicity and Tammy will share their stories with us and discuss what helped and hindered throughout the restoration process. We are also joined by Nataliewho will be facilitating a conversation with Felicity and Tammy.

Dr. Meredith Kiraly

Dr Meredith Kiraly is a psychologist with over 30 years experience in child and family welfare. She has worked in community service organisations in casework and program management, and has specialised in out of home care. Meredith’s PhD was titled Family Links: Kinship Care and Family Contact and her numerous research projects have focussed on a range of human service areas with a focus on vulnerable children and out of home care, especially the growing rate of kinship care. Meredith currently works at the University of Melbourne Department of Social Work.

Today, Meredith will be speaking with us about contact between infants who have been removed and their birth parents in relation to restoration outcomes.

Tamara O’Sullivan from Newpin

Tamara O’Sullivan is the Newpin Social Benefit Bond Lead at Uniting working on the operational, practice and strategic oversight of the program.  Uniting Newpin is an evidence-based therapeutic restoration program that provides emotional and practical support to families. It supports and empowers families to break the cycle of child neglect and abuse and to provide safe, nurturing environments for children. The Newpin model has successfully led to an increasing number of children being successfully returned home to families with higher needs.

Tamara has been working in the sector for the last 20 years with previous roles in Child Protection (FACS) and Out of Home Care (NGO). She has a range of experience in managing a portfolio of programs spanning preservation, placement, restoration through to adoption for both children and youth. Tamara also has a background in child and adolescent psychotherapy and clinical supervision.

Today, Tamara will be speaking with us about the Newpin model and supporting parents to achieve restoration.

Dana Shen

Dana is Aboriginal/Chinese, a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia. She has a passion for and extensive experience working with Aboriginal communities, bringing a unique skill set in Aboriginal cultural consultancy, professional service delivery and systems change. Dana was previously the Director of TACSI’s Family by Family program. Dana has also served as an executive in Child Protection services, managing residential care services and leading the development of policy and planning. Dana was formerly the Executive Director in South Australia’s Health system, leading the development of the health systems’ response to supporting early childhood development and the policy approach of child protection in health. Dana is currently working with her community in projects focussed on improving mainstream services and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Unfortunately Dana was not able to join us today, however she has pre-recorded a video for us outlining some of her reflections about working effectively with Aboriginal families.