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Media Release: Our Community - West Belconnen Grants - Attachment A [Word 18KB] [PDF 128KB]

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness Strengthening Families Practice Leader talks about becoming a COPMI Champion for kids at risk

Strengthening Families Practice Leaders have joined the growing number of Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) Champions, committed to making sure kids at risk have the best possible chance to live a full and happy life.

Research tells us that children of parents with a mental illness are at a greater risk of experiencing a range of behavioural, educational, social and developmental challenges, as well as a higher risk of experiencing their own mental health difficulties.

Strengthening Families Practice Leaders have received training to equip them with the right skills and knowledge to support ACT workers who are helping families impacted by mental illness. This includes a greater understanding of ‘Child Aware’ practices to ensure deliberate attention is given to the needs of the child at every stage of intervention, supporting parents to meet the care needs of their children and enabling healthy parent-child relationships.

“After becoming a COPMI Champion, I met with a Lead Worker whose family had just entered a time of crisis. While our discussion certainly dealt with the parent’s support requirements, I was also able to ensure that we focused on the needs of the children.Merlin Baker

As a result, when a case conference was held, it became apparent that while the family was still in a high risk situation, the children were already receiving some appropriate supports. Others had been identified and were being brought in.

The COPMI training helped to increase my awareness of the children’s needs. I felt better prepared to help meet the challenges of supporting this Lead Worker and the family.

I was able to think more holistically, and hold a long-term view of the impacts of the current situation on the children, especially if adequate supports are not brought into place now”- Merlin Baker, Strengthening Families Practice Leader.

Strengthening Families will continue to work in partnership with the COPMI national initiative to promote better outcomes for children and families where a parent experiences mental illness.

For more information on Children of Parents with Mental Illness, visit

Reupert, A.E., Maybery D., Kowalenko, N., (2012) Children whose parents have a mental illness: prevalence, need and treatment. MJA Open, 2012 1 Suppl 1: 7-9.

Collective Impact Workshop

Collective Impact WorkshopMore than 30 members of the Local Service Network (the Network) came together at the Flynn Community Hub on 22 February 2016 to participate in a Collective Impact Workshop. The half day workshop was a chance for the Network Leadership Group and Network Partners to gain a shared understanding of the Collective Impact framework – an approach to achieving social change at a population level, and how it may be practically applied in the West Belconnen community.

Participants were welcomed by Minister Yvette Berry, who shared her passion and excitement in continuing to make West Belconnen a wonderful community and acknowledged that Network Partners are taking part in a unique approach to deliver services and supports to create change in people’s lives.

The first guest presenter was the National Program Director of Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, Ms Penny Dakin, who spoke about how the five key elements of Collective Impact differentiates it from other types of collaboration. Ms Dakin talked about the benefit of Collective Impact as ‘really’ listening to the community and understanding their needs, the essential first element of creating a Common Agenda.Collective Impact Workshop

Ms Dakin shared with the group the important features of the other four elements: Shared Measurement – everyone collecting the same data to help tell the story and track changes; Mutually Reinforcing Activities – ensuring everything you do has an impact on the outcome; Continuous Communication – ensuring all stakeholders are engaged and taken along on the journey; and Backbone Support – the organisation that coordinates the initiative.

“Collective Impact is a really powerful tool and has the ability to make a significant difference for a community” said Ms Dakin.

The second guest presenter was the Director of the Logan Together Project, Mr Matthew Cox, who shared the journey, successes and challenges of the Queensland Collective Impact Project that commenced in 2014. Mr Cox acknowledged that change takes time, and that after three years, Logan is starting to see the impacts in their community.

“Ultimately, collective impact is about social change at the population level” said Mr Cox.

The workshop concluded with a facilitated discussion on the next steps and readiness for the Network to embark on a targeted Collective Impact pilot in the West Belconnen community.

This discussion will support the Network’s activities in 2016 in order to take the next steps towards achieving social change at a population level. For more information about the workshop or Better Services initiatives, please email

Changing Lives: Better Services Design workshop

More than 80 people from across the community, ACT and Australian Government sectors were part of the Changing Lives: Better Services Design workshop at CIT on 26 November. The day was a chance to reflect on what has been achieved so far through the Better Services initiatives, including the lessons learnt, and to plan the next steps in continuing the reform of human services in the ACT.

Participants heard from the ACT Government Head of Service, Kathy Leigh, who spoke about the need to build on the innovative work of the Better Services initiatives and to capitalise on the strengths of the ACT. Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA (representing the Minister for Community Services Yvette Berry) gave practical examples of how the Better Services initiatives have already made positive changes for local services, practitioners and clients. Ms Fitzharris also posed some key questions to consider into the future of service delivery.

The keynote speaker was Dr Alex Guyani from the Behavioural Insights Team (UK/Australasia). Dr Guyani talked about how the work of BIT was increasing the effectiveness of human services in the UK and in Australia. He used a number of case studies to demonstrate how simple and low cost changes to government communication and service processes could positively change individual behaviours and make cost savings. For example, the use of personalised text messages to jobseekers to encourage them to explore job opportunities and improving the language used in overdue traffic infringement letters.

The priorities that were identified during the workshop were:

These priorities will assist in future work to expand the current initiatives of the Human Services Gateway, Strengthening Families and the Local Services Network in West Belconnen and in developing new initiatives.

For more information about the workshop or Better Services initiatives, please email

One year on: Better Services achievements 2014-15

The Human Services Blueprint is being rolled out through the the Better Services initiatives of Strengthening Families, One Human Services Gateway and the West Belconnen Local Services Network. Progress of each of these are outlined in the Achievements Reports below.

Better Services Achievements 2014-15
Strengthening Families
West Belconnen Local Services Network
One Human Services Gateway
Implementing the Human Services Blueprint - Progress Report

Seniors Expo at Kippax Mall

Senior Expo at Kippax Mall

Great to see so many older residents at the West Belconnen Local Services Network’s first pop-up information stall at Kippax Fair late last week. A number of local service providers got together to promote a range of supports and services for older people in West Belconnen. The stall was held to improve access to information for older people, something that has been identified by the local community. People had a chance to talk to service providers and find out what is available in their neighbourhood. A big thanks to everyone who was involved: Belconnen Community Service, ACT Health, Carers ACT, Council of the Ageing (COTA), Red Cross, Rural Fire Brigade, UnitingCare Kippax, Capital Metro, Ginninderra Rotary Club, ACT Community Services and ACT Community Recovery and Emergency Planning.