Our steering committee

Jessica
Convener – Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter
Children have a fundamental right to be raised and supported by their own families. In Australia and in the Hunter Valley this right is being denied them too often and too readily. In my career as a child protection and out of home care worker I have been continually impressed and inspired by parents who fight for their kids and actively love and parent them even when faced with powerful barriers. It is time to partner equally with parents and families to change the system, to build family inclusive practice and bring about more positive outcomes for children as a result.


Felicity
With experience of having my own three children being taken into care, I understand the struggle parents go through when dealing with the child protection system. I turned my life around, improved my relationships with my children and have had two of my children restored to my care. I am dedicated to helping other parents understand child protection and hope to link them with information to make the process easier.


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Teegan
When I joined Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter in 2014, I personally knew the struggle that parents and children faced when involved in the child protection system. I have recently completed a Diploma of Community Services, it is my hope that I can be advocate for parents to have a voice within the system and help them to navigate ways to maintain relationships with their children and all involved. 


Tammy
My passion for Family Inclusion comes from my personal experience of the child protection system and an awareness of the importance of family connections to a child. As someone who was in the child protection system myself, I understand that not having a relationship with my own family was detrimental to me. Dealing with the child protection system as a child and as a parent was a nightmare and I am committed to helping to make the system better for others. The stigma around having my child removed stays with me, and people still judge me despite changing my life for my two children.  


Lauren
I am a Project Manager with a family support service. I had noticed how the process of children being removed from families, left parents without support and with a ‘bad parent’ reputation.  When I joined with FISH I got clear that supporting parent’s relationship with their children (whether the child remains in care or not) and helping to address parenting issues, does not diminish children’ rights of safety. In fact, they go hand in hand for children growing up feeling worthwhile. 


Lyn
I teach at the University of Newcastle.  I have worked in Health and in Community Services and with non-government organisations.  I am a social worker who has a strong interest in out-of-home care, trauma informed practice, developing the knowledge and skills of practitioner and developing support for families. I am especially interested in the voices of children and young people. My partner and I provide support for a family of four kids and their Mum.   


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Colleen
I am a Social Worker who has worked in child protection, foster care, and family support for 17 years. I have seen first-hand the importance of family relationships and connections for children who experience Out of Home Care and how important these are for helping a child develop a healthy sense of belonging, identity and self-esteem. Children and young people who enter care need to feel loved and connected to their family. It is only through meeting this deep psychological need that children can grow up to have meaningful relationships in their own lives. 


The Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle supports
Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter. Kerri represents the
Family Action Centre on the Committee.

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Kerri
I am a family worker at The University of Newcastle Family Action Centre Hunter Outreach Project. Through my years of working with families I have become increasingly aware and passionate about the importance of parents and children remaining connected, all too often I see parents and children who are lost within a system that struggles to support the capacity and complexities of the most important relationships within children’s lives. Parents and children have the right to be heard and given a voice that empowers and supports opportunities for positive change. Parents are always parents regardless of where their children are living.

Every person we ever meet has infinite worth (regardless of our body, mind and talents.) We each matter and we matter absolutely.