Advertisement

Save Parentline and Paint and Play!

By 12 December 2012 14

Every Wednesday Parentline host an under school age activity at Ainslie called Paint and Play. Today was the last Paint and Play EVER because the Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher and Minister Joy Burch, MLA are threatening the future of Parentline’s services – predominantly a discreet helpline for parents, which includes referrals to local services. Paint and Play is run on the smell of an oily rag mostly because staff largely volunteer their time by getting all the craft activities and toys ready in their own time. It is the most wonderful service for parents with young children and it’s completely free (though gold coin donations are gladly received).

To help reverse the decision regarding Parentline’s funding, join other parents in emailing your concerns (template example below) to Minister Joy Burch MLA at burch@act.gov.au (or call 6205 0020) and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher at gallagher@act.gov.au.

Keep up to date with Parentline at http://www.parentlineact.org.au

KKnooks, concerned parent

Dear Joy and Katy

I was very disappointed to hear that Parentline’s future is in jeopardy.  Parentline has provided this community with invaluable support for decades. Having a local service that is so well connected with the community keeps it top of mind when one faces difficult times.
Parentline also run the popular ‘Paint and Play’ activity, held in Ainslie every Wednesday morning.
The connection with the community that Paint and Play provides to families with young children is priceless and provides enjoyment and satisfaction for upwards of 100 mums/dads/grandparents and bubs every week. Those Parentline and YMCA staff that run the event do most of the preparation in their own time and it runs on the smell of an oily rag because of their organisation and dedication.
Losing this service would be an enormous loss to the community and it would in my mind be a black mark against the Labour government.
Kind regards

[ED - The Canberra Times has both sides of the story]

Please login to post your comments
14 Responses to
Save Parentline and Paint and Play!
Grail 5:36 pm
12 Dec 12
#1

The Canberra Times has a “Readers Digest” version of the story. There’s far more to it than this, surely?

If only I could be bothered to make the time to chase down the details of the contract and the communications between the department and Parentline, and perhaps interview some of the people involved.

Sigh.

I’m just too lazy, sorry.

ghughes 8:07 pm
12 Dec 12
#2

Grail obviously has the scoop on this story. Let’s hear it.
My mail is that a high cost substandard service has been provided and known about for about 7 years.
I don’t think Parentline or those close to it would be ‘surprised’ at all

thatsnotme 8:41 pm
12 Dec 12
#3

It seems to me that ‘Paint and Play’ is a secondary service to the primary aim of Parentline, and if the service isn’t delivering its primary objective, then saying ‘but we’ll lose paint and play!’ isn’t going to get you far.

My son has been to a heap of Paint and Play days at the Scullin Early Childhood School, and I’m sure they’re run along the same lines, and with the limited funding that the Parentline was run with. Regardless of the situation with this organisation, I’d bet an alternate Paint and Play could be set up for the community if the will exists.

Mathman 9:38 pm
12 Dec 12
#4

There is a lot more background to this story. Parentline ACT Inc had been funded by the ACT Government for many years to provide a parent telephone counciling service. Last year the youth services program was reorganised around a new framework and Parentline’s couselling service didn’t fit in this framework. Parentline lost its ongoing funding for the counselling service but was awarded the contract to run the new intake service that refers youth in need to other services. It is this intake service that the ACT Government has cancelled the contract for, leaving Parentline with little other funding.

What makes this failure interesting is that the whole program is based on the ACT Govt funding community groups to undertake what is essentially the government’s work – effectively outsourcing the provision of human services. Previously this has been done reasonably successfully with homelessness services. This incident could be considered a success for this strategy because it has allowed the Government to quickly and cleanly pull the plug on an ineffective part of the service without having it fester away in the public service for years.

Mathman 9:44 pm
12 Dec 12
#5

And to correct KKnooks post:

* Parentline was never funded to run Paint and Play
* It was not the last Paint and Play EVER as other organisations run Paint and Play events around town.

KKnooks 8:19 am
13 Dec 12
#6

Yes however Mathman it may be the last ever for Ainslie. While it is an adjunct to the main Parentline responsibilities it has been highly valued by the inner north community for well over 30 years so its a shame to lose it. I hope something else crops up in its place because it puts pressure on the scullin PnP unduly. I understand that many of the other similarly named PnPs have fees.

lox 5:16 pm
13 Dec 12
#7

Actually KKooks, there at 10 other Paint and Play programs operating in the ACT, and ALL of them are free. A full list of them can be found here: http://www.dhcs.act.gov.au/ocyfs/childandfamilycentres/paint_and_play

Ending the contract with Parentline really was the best decision. They did not have the assessment or referral skills to fulfil the role they needed to. As others have said, it was a substandard service that was not able to adapt from its previous role as a support line. I’m sure that there are good staff there and it is unfortunate that they have lost their jobs. However, I’m sure that those with skills and qualifications will be able to find another position within the sector.

And by the way, encouraging people to write to the minister is going to achieve anything. I know that our organisation and others (both government and non-government) have been continually informing her of the problems with Parentline for months, and in the end, it was her who gave approval to pull the plug.

thisnexus 7:54 am
16 Dec 12
#8

There is even more back story to this than Mathman and Lox have posted…

Parentline have been quietly doing a good job with a phone service for many years.

About 3 years ago, the Government decides to fundamentally reform the youth and family support sectors.

a key new aspect of this reform was a central intake service with no physical accesses point… rather, it was to be a phone line and and a referral service.

Many community sector types said this new service model would never work for young people.

Government didn’t listen.

government put it ( and whole bunch of other new programs) out for tender, and kinda stuffed every one around for 9 months in the bargin

again, many community sector types said this new servie model would never work for young people.

Parentline won the tender, made a mistake by rolling all there existing funding into this new service, which was to be a phone line and and a referral service for not just families (which they had been doing an ok job of) but for youth.

Lo and behold, after a few months it became clear that young people were not going to call a number and speak to an unknown adult about all there personal problems and who they were never going to be able to meet, (thats whats lifelines for)

at the same time, and in some defence of Parentline, the rest of the community sector was also struggling to articulate what the hell to do with these new programs and new ways of working, with reduced or closed youth centres, a major stuff up regarding services in tuggeranong and Gungahlin, and protracted contract negotiations ( due to the confusion and mismanagement of the tender processes of the government for the most part) that lasted months after the new world order was supposed to begin.

Many people did try to help Parentline, but it was such a poor service model that it was doomed from the start.

the Government, realising that it was all going to shit, looked for a scapegoat.

bye bye parentline.

Moral(s) of the story:

when you undertake major reforms, listen to the people who are on the ground doing the work.

If you tender for a service, make sure you can actually do what you tell the government you can, and dont get too upset if the government in turn questions poor results.

never, ever, put all your eggs in one basket case.

If your the government, its ok to cancel a contract and sack 15 people 2 weeks before xmas

if your the government, its ok to completely ignore the evidence and advise of years of youth work, and then blame someone for your flawed service model.

No one is a winner here, and its shitty, messed up situation all round that could have, and should have , been avoided 2 years ago.

Thoth 10:45 am
16 Dec 12
#9

This is my personal view and I am incensed at what I see written here by Lox. It has been a devastating blow for Parentline staff, to lose this service that has been a mainstay of the Canberra community, for over 34 years.

Re the funding for our service as an information, engagement and co-ordination service, ensuring successful referrals to other services, which is what we were funded for, I assert that our service achieved that. A large part of a successful referral is to hear the client’s story to know where best to refer them. Parentline’s dedicated team of professional highly experienced staff have worked tirelessly to support people in LISTENING and then referring appropriately.

The other smaller part of a successful referral is to know of what’s out there in the community that will meet their needs. And because many essential services have been cut in the ACT, there are precious little services to refer them to, and those that are in existence are full, and have long waiting lists. Hence, it is even more important to listen closely to a person in crisis, and with the client, to find a way to keep them going. If we are to be punished for anything, it is for supporting vulnerable families, too well.

Parentline has long supported isolated and ‘at risk’ families. We also have a fantastic group of volunteers, who undergo training to support clients on an ongoing basis. These folk are equally devastated at the thought of not being able to support their vulnerable clients.

Paint and Play too, is extremely well-attended, and recently celebrated its’ 5th Birthday. It is a worthy extension of Parentline’s support of vulnerable families.

May I remind you, that although everyone is not a parent everyone has or has had a parent. Parentline supports everyone. For a more balanced view, as the Canberra Times definitely does NOT have both sides of the story, go to Parentline on facebook, or follow the link below and read the comments, and while you’re there, sign our petition.

- Reverse ACT Government decision: Sign the Petition
- Parentline on Facebook

Renate 4:56 pm
16 Dec 12
#10

I dont know why there is even an argument! Cutting a free counselling serrvice can never be a good thing. I’m sure all of us know someone who is need of counselling and many of us will do in the future. Lox how do you say “this is really the best decision”. Are you a vulnerable Canberran in need of free support? This is not just about those who lost their jobs. This is about cutting support from those who need it the most.

johnboy 5:03 pm
16 Dec 12
#11

Renate said :

I dont know why there is even an argument! Cutting a free counselling serrvice can never be a good thing. I’m sure all of us know someone who is need of counselling and many of us will do in the future. Lox how do you say “this is really the best decision”. Are you a vulnerable Canberran in need of free support? This is not just about those who lost their jobs. This is about cutting support from those who need it the most.

Well no.

Because nothing is free.

As a community we’re choosing to pay for it and questions need to be asked as to whether the outcomes delivered are worth the money spent.

Eby 6:41 pm
16 Dec 12
#12

I completely concur with thisnexus. The changes to the youth and family services sector were protested by services from the start, but the government continued to impose them.

The model for intake and referral, which Parentline won, was flawed in its design (by the ACT Government). Whether Parentline did, or did not, try to work with services and the government to improve the service may be part of the issue – but the government is also responsible for their part, in not listening to the advice they were given from the start, in designing a flawed model, and then in refusing to acknowledge their role in this.

The real test will be whether the same model works now it has been given to a bunch of other organisations to run. I suspect it won’t, or not without substantial changes to the design.

housebound 8:04 pm
16 Dec 12
#13

Especially this: “if you’re the government, its ok to completely ignore the evidence and advice of years of youth work, and then blame someone for your flawed service model.”

When you read the story (below), then look at the department involved (CSD), and think about the Minister concerned, then somehow it sounds like a story less uncommon than it should be.

It’s a seriously broken department.

thisnexus said :

There is even more back story to this than Mathman and Lox have posted…

Parentline have been quietly doing a good job with a phone service for many years.

About 3 years ago, the Government decides to fundamentally reform the youth and family support sectors.

a key new aspect of this reform was a central intake service with no physical accesses point… rather, it was to be a phone line and and a referral service.

Many community sector types said this new service model would never work for young people.

Government didn’t listen.

government put it ( and whole bunch of other new programs) out for tender, and kinda stuffed every one around for 9 months in the bargin

again, many community sector types said this new servie model would never work for young people.

Parentline won the tender, made a mistake by rolling all there existing funding into this new service, which was to be a phone line and and a referral service for not just families (which they had been doing an ok job of) but for youth.

Lo and behold, after a few months it became clear that young people were not going to call a number and speak to an unknown adult about all there personal problems and who they were never going to be able to meet, (thats whats lifelines for)

at the same time, and in some defence of Parentline, the rest of the community sector was also struggling to articulate what the hell to do with these new programs and new ways of working, with reduced or closed youth centres, a major stuff up regarding services in tuggeranong and Gungahlin, and protracted contract negotiations ( due to the confusion and mismanagement of the tender processes of the government for the most part) that lasted months after the new world order was supposed to begin.

Many people did try to help Parentline, but it was such a poor service model that it was doomed from the start.

the Government, realising that it was all going to shit, looked for a scapegoat.

bye bye parentline.

Moral(s) of the story:

when you undertake major reforms, listen to the people who are on the ground doing the work.

If you tender for a service, make sure you can actually do what you tell the government you can, and dont get too upset if the government in turn questions poor results.

never, ever, put all your eggs in one basket case.

If your the government, its ok to cancel a contract and sack 15 people 2 weeks before xmas

if your the government, its ok to completely ignore the evidence and advise of years of youth work, and then blame someone for your flawed service model.

No one is a winner here, and its shitty, messed up situation all round that could have, and should have , been avoided 2 years ago.

lox 3:50 pm
28 Dec 12
#14

Renate, the reason I said that “cutting Parentline was the best decision” in these circumstances was that they were not being referred out to the network services.

I work in one of the few non-government agencies that survived the restructure. We were relying on Parentline to send on the referrals and they never came through. In response to thisnexus, I understand the importance of listening to people, but I also know that it is hard enough for vulnerable people to call in the first place – making a second call is just as hard and people feel like they are just being shipped from pillar to post. Sending written referrals out to the agencies set up to receive them was what Parentline was supposed to do.

Although, I am in agreement with thisnexus on the issue of the government not consulting with the people on the ground, and not giving the time or resources to set this up properly.

In response to Renate, I simply meant that taking the role of ‘central point access’ and referral function away from Parentline was the best decision, as it was this aspect of the service that was not working. I think that as a support line it did fill a need in Canberra. I didn’t make that clear in my original post – I apologise.

Follow
Follow The RiotACT
Get Premium Membership
Advertisement
The-RiotACT.com Newsletter Sign Up

Images of Canberra

Advertisement
Sponsors
RiotACT Proudly Supports
Advertisement
Copyright © 2014 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.