Act for Kids Centre of Excellence opens at JCU Townsville
James Cook University and one of Australia’s foremost child protection organisations will take a major step forward in the fight to protect children from abuse and neglect with the opening on Monday (May 26) of a dedicated facility in Townsville.
In September 2012, JCU and Act for Kids announced their partnership to establish the Act for Kids Centre of Excellence at JCU’s Townsville campus. The facility will lead the way in education, training and research in child protection practice.
Act for Kids is a not-for-profit organisation which has provided free professional therapy to treat and prevent child abuse and neglect across Queensland for more than 26 years.
In recent years it identified a skills gap in the child protection workforce, seeing graduates with tertiary qualifications but no real practical experience in working with children and families who have suffered, or are at risk of, child abuse and neglect.
The joint development and improvement of education and training is aimed at helping fill these gaps.
JCU and Act for Kids will develop programs to equip graduates to provide expanded and improved clinical and therapeutic services and support for abused and neglected children.
They will also develop tailored postgraduate programs for practitioners who work with ‘high-risk’ families, with a multi-disciplinary approach and significant Indigenous and practical components.
Professor Nola Alloway, Dean, College of Arts, Society and Education at JCU, said the opening of the Act for Kids facility was another step forward in research and quality education for the university.
“Our joint research projects with Act for Kids will help shape best practice for the treatment and support of abused and neglected children, and those at risk, and their families. Ultimately, it will build a world-leading body of knowledge in this field,” Professor Alloway said
The flagship facility will lead the way in national child protection by providing best-practice therapeutic support for abused and neglected children, and early support for families at risk.
In 2012, Act for Kids was awarded $3.4million from the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) and $600,000 from Queensland Government’s Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services towards the $4.6 million development of the centre, built on land donated by JCU.
Auto & General Insurance, Subway Australia and Act for Kids supporters have generously contributed $170,000 towards completing the facility.
The playground for the centre was funded by the Non School Organisations Program (NSO) of the Queensland Government’s Department of Education, Training and Employment.
The Act for Kids Child and Family Centre of Excellence includes:
� purpose-built therapy spaces and a specialist preschool with indoor and outdoor play areas for abused and neglected children
� improved office facilities to accommodate delivery of outreach parenting support and programs
� a child friendly outdoor play and meeting space for families and for Act for Kids and other community organisations to conduct parenting programs
� a training centre for professional development workshops, undergraduate subjects and postgraduate courses developed in partnership with James Cook University
� a child protection and development research centre to promote evidence-based practice, evaluate services and inform program and policy development.
Act for Kids CEO, Dr Neil Carrington, said it was exciting to see their vision for the region’s most advanced therapeutic centre become a reality.
“Not only will the centre be a family friendly facility for community use, it will also enable us to increase the capacity and capability of the human services sector in the region, create safer home environments for children, increase community awareness of children’s needs and provide better access for Indigenous children and families,” Dr Carrington said.
Renée McAllister, Act for Kids North Queensland Regional Director, said the purpose-built centre, combined with research and education would go a long way to addressing North Queensland’s growing need for child and family support services, by providing evidence-based therapy and interventions that will improve the outcomes and future for thousands of children and families.
Who: Tarnya Smith, Assistant Minister for Child Safety; John Hathaway, Member for Townsville and Dr Neil Carrington, CEO of Act for Kids officially opening the Act for Kids Child and Family Centre of Excellence by unveiling a plaque
Date and time: 1.00-3.00pm, Monday 26 May (best time for media opportunities – 1-2pm)
Location: Act for Kids Child and Family Centre of Excellence, cnr Endeavour Drive and Buchan Rd (past main oval – Joe Baker Field), JCU Townsville campus
Act for Kids contact: Carly Stevens (07) 3850 3203 / 0409 751 622
Local Act for Kids contact: Renée McAllister, Regional Director (07) 4755 8777 / 0417 335 117
JCU Media Liaison: Caroline Kaurila, tel; (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175
First published May 23 , 2014