National Summit for Parents, Families and Carers
7 May 2007 at 2:13 pm
Plans are underway for a national summit later this year in a bid to create a voice for parents, families and carers across the country.
The Summit is being organised under the auspices of the Centre for Civil Society.
National Convenor, Vern Hughes says every industry and professional interest group in the country has a national voice to get in the ears of government – except families.
Yet parents, families and carers are far and away the largest bloc of citizens, voters and consumers in the country, but have the weakest voice.
Hughes says families are not organised in the way industry, unions or single issue activists are organised. In the absence of designated institutions which represent families, governments have looked to funded service delivery agencies and research institutes for advice on family matters.
He says families with members with a disability or a learning difficulty or chronic or mental illness tend to be pre-occupied with getting through each day, and have lacked the resources or time or expertise to allocate to advancing their long term interests.
As well Hughes says the media does not know any household names who speak for families, in the way that a Bob Brown speaks for environment issues, or a Tim Costello speaks for poverty issues, or a Bill Shorten speaks for unions.
He says the Summit aims to change all this and has called on Australians to get involved. The Summit is planned for Melbourne on Wednesday 8 August.
May – Receipt of initial expressions of interest in participation, and submission of proposals. Deadline Thursday 31 May.
June – Online and regional discussion of proposals. Concluding Friday 29 June.
July – Distribution of several options for consideration at the Summit. Close of registrations for the Summit Friday 27 July.
National Summit – Wednesday 8 August
Hughes says the objective is to find an appropriate method and structure(s) for developing a national voice in Australia for parents, families and carers.
He says it hopes to bring together parents, families and carers from several different sectors which have previously been isolated from each other, including education and schools; child care; early intervention and early years development; disability; mental illness; learning difficulties; behavioural difficulties; youth support; chronic and acute illness; and the aged.
As well the plan is to develop a voice that is as broad and inclusive as possible which will not be aligned with any religious or cultural perspective on family structure or bio-ethical issues as well as attract significant financial and infrastructure support from public, private, philanthropic and charitable sources.
For more information go to: www.civilsociety.org.au/FamiliesSummit.htm