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Tuesday, 27 February 2007
Page: 143


Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 4 December 2006:

(1)   What is the role and activities of Bringing Them Home (BTH) Counsellors.

(2) (a)   What are the respective roles of and differences between Link Up Services and Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centres; and (b) what is their relationship with the BTH Counsellors.

(3)   By state and territory, for each of the financial years 2000-01 to 2006-07 to date, how many BTH Counsellors were there.

(4)   By state and territory, for each of financial years 2000-01 to 2006-07 to date, how many Link Up Services operated.

(5)   By state and territory, for each of the financial years 2000-01 to 2006-07 to date, how many Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centres operated.

(6)   For each of the financial years 2000-01 to 2006-07 to date, how much funding was allocated and expended on: (a) BTH Counsellors; (b) Link Up Services; and (c) Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centres.

(7)   Are there any data on the number of clients that each BTH Counsellor or Link Up Service has; if so, for each counsellor or service, what is the: (a) total number of clients; and (b) the approximate date the assessment was made.

(8)   Has the department conducted any evaluation or assessment of client satisfaction with the BTH Counsellors, Link up Services or Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centres; if so, in each case: (a) what was the date of the evaluation; (b) what was the subject of the evaluation; (c) was client satisfaction measured; and (d) can a copy be provided of the evaluation report.


Senator Santoro (Minister for Ageing) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   Bringing Them Home (BTH) Counsellors provide counselling to individuals, families and communities affected by past practices regarding the forced removal of children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The counsellors have a broad clientele as they respond to the needs of those removed, those who were left behind, and the children, grandchildren and relatives of all those affected by family separation practices.

(2)  

(a)   Link Up Services provide support, guidance and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people forcibly separated from their families and communities as a result of past governments’ laws, policies and practices, to trace and reunite with their families. The services provided include:

  • searching for and locating relevant records and files pertaining to the clients and/or their families;
  • obtaining information on behalf of clients;
  • providing general emotional support and guidance;
  • referring clients to professional counsellors, if needed; and
  • management of reunions (throughout the pre-reunion, reunion and post-reunion phases) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been successful in tracing and locating living relatives from whom they were separated.

   The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Regional Centres provide training, support and planning assistance for organisations and individuals working in Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing. They also deliver training and provide professional support for Aboriginal mental health workers, BTH Counsellors and Link Up workers.

   (b)   Link Up services are able to refer clients who require counseling support to BTH Counsellors. The role of Social and Emotional Wellbeing Regional Centres includes facilitating training and providing professional support to both Link Up workers and BTH Counsellors.

 

(3)   Information on the actual number of BTH counsellors employed is available for the four years 2001-02 to 2004-05. OATSIH is currently in the process of collecting data for 2005-06. The number employed as at 30 June each year was as follows:

 

State/Territory

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

ACT & NSW

20

18

20

21

NT

20

20

17

14

Qld

19

21

19

16

SA

-*

12

9

10

Vic & Tas

11

20

27

25

WA

21

20

16

18

Total

91

111

108

104

* S.A. figures were not reported in 2001-02 as not all services provided information on the number of counsellors they employed.

(4)   The number of Link Up Services operating were as follows:

State/Territory

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

ACT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

NSW

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

NT

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

Qld

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

SA

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Tas

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

Vic

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

WA

7

7

7

7

7

7

5

Total

14

14

14

14

14

13

11

 

(5)   The number of Social and Emotional Wellbeing Regional Centres operating were as follows:

State/Territory

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

ACT

-

-

-

1

1

1

1

NSW

3

3

3

2

2

2

2

NT

2

2

2

3

3

3

3

Qld

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

SA

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Tas

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Vic

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

WA

3

3

3

3

3

3

2

Total

15

15

15

15

15

15

14

 

(6)   Funding was allocated and expended on: (a) BTH Counsellors; (b) Link Up Services; and (c) Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centres as follows.

Service

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

allocation

2005-06 expenditure

2006-07 allocation

2006-07 expenditure to 30.9.06

(a) BTH Counsellors

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

$12.22 million

$11.87 million**

$11.11 million

$1.97

million

(b) Link Up Services

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

$4.15

million

$4.17

million

$4.55 million

$0.52

million

(c) SEWB Centres

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

NA*

$3.42

million

$3.72

million**

$5.77 million

$0.95

million

NA* Data for these years is not available due to the historical constructs of the programs and the complexity of the funding arrangements.

** 2005-06 expenditure figures are indicative, due to the way the programs were historically structured.

(7)  

(a)   Data is not collected on the number of clients of BTH Counsellors. Data is available on the total number of client contacts. A “client contact” is defined as where “a client has contact with the BTH Counsellor for the provision of care/information”. A single client may have a number of contacts with a counsellor in any given year. The total number of client contacts by BTH Counsellors over the period 2001-02 to 2004-05 were as follows:

Year

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

Client contacts

28,500

37,300

36,700

39,300

No. of services

57

66

64

68

 

   

(b)   Data to determine the date of assessment and the number of client contacts is not reliable and is therefore unavailable for Link Up services.

(8)   The Department has not previously conducted any evaluation or assessment of client satisfaction with the BTH Counsellors, Link Up services or Social and Emotional Wellbeing Regional Centres. However in 2006 the Department commissioned independent social research consultants Urbis Keys Young to conduct an evaluation of all of these programs.  

   

(a)   The evaluation commenced in March 2006 and a report of the review is due at the end of February 2007.

(b)   The national evaluation of the social health programs aims to assess the impact of the programs on their target groups; assess the likely future demand for their services; gain insight into how effectively the programs are being delivered; strengthen cooperation and coordination among the delivery agencies; and identify and promote best practice.

(c)   One component of the evaluation involves consultation with clients or potential clients of the services.

(d)   Our intention is to make a version of the report publicly available. It is possible that, due to the personal nature of some of the information the full report may not be publicly released.