The Spotlight on... series focuses on some of the leading figures in Queensland's community services sector and related agencies. We ask them to talk about the work they are doing and how they see the future of the sector casino canada.
Brooke Winters is the Regional Executive Director for the South-West Region of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. She works with a range of community service providers from Ipswich and Toowoomba out to Roma, Charleville and St George.
Brooke talks about the role of the Department in working for better social outcomes, key issues in the South-West region and how she sees the future of the community services sector.
Question:What is the role of the South-West region of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services?
Brooke: We do an enormous amount, we work very closely with the non government sector to deliver a whole range of services. We provide indirect funding to a lot of organisations who actually do the great work in terms of supporting people. We also provide some direct services ourselves through our disability services staff. For instance, we work directly with people with disability.
Question: How is your region working to eliminate poverty and disadvantage?
Brooke: We're doing some wonderful work through the Carmody Commission of Inquiry, it was an absolute catalyst to moving away from that statutory response being the total answer to every family problem that people could have, to saying that we do need to have a bit more balance in the system. We as a system need to focus on how we can support families to stay together by looking at what programs families would benefit by, and that includes anything from domestic violence support to what support can children be provided to make sure that they get to school and that they're well fed and they're nourished. So it’s about that prevention and early intervention really putting the resources towards those earlier years so that we can really start preventing some of those long term social problems that we do see in our society today unfortunately.
Question: What one thing do you think Queensland should be focusing on to reduce poverty and disadvantage?
Brooke: Safe family spaces and families where people feel loved and cared for where the relationships between people are supportive, where children feel nurtured, where we're able to help children go to school, be healthy, have great activities to attend so I think that's probably the the most fundamental.
Question: What are you working on that is making a big difference in the Community?
Brooke: Recently as part of the Carmody Inquiry, we've been doing these audits to have a look at how well has our practice been with children that have been removed from their families and we're actually starting to reunify some children with their families. We're providing the families with different sorts of supports than what we were able to before, and because we're able to provide different supports, those children have been able to go home to mum and dad. If we can stem the flow of the dislocation for young people, then they'll be able to have more constructive and fulfilling lives. It is really exciting when you see young people going home.
Question: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the future of the community services sector?
Brooke: I think everyone is going through renewal at the moment. So for our department the NDIS is providing fabulous opportunities with the ‘Your Life Your Choice’ where we're actually able to help people with disabilities exercise more choice and control over the type of services that they get. With Carmody, we're working with our child and family committees to have a look at how can we get better place based solutions for people.Our contract management - we're streamlining our processes to make life easier for our non-government service providers to be able to do their job. So everything is renewal in our space, the sector is going through a very similar thing with all their challenges so it's about how we can work together in terms of co-design and co-production to come up with some better innovative solutions, together.