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Family Drug Treatment Court wins Child Protection Week award

We are proud to announce that the Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC) is the recipient of the 2019 Robin Clark Making a Difference Award.

The award was presented in National Child Protection Week (1-7 September) and recognised the FDTC for its “exceptional contribution to directly improve the lives of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal children, young people and families in Victoria”.

The FDTC is a judicially-led program that assists parents who have had their children removed from their care because of drug and alcohol abuse. The FDTC has assisted more than 150 parents address their issues with substance abuse since 2014.

Each week FDTC participants appear before Children’s Court magistrates at Broadmeadows and Shepparton. The program is designed to get parents to address their addictions and reunify families.

The Robin Clark Making a Difference Award identified the FDTC as a “genuinely collaborative” Court that works to achieve safe and sustainable reunification. Parents involved in the program are up to 2.5 times more likely to achieve reunification than parents engaged in mainstream court processes.

The program’s success comes from the wrap-around service provided by a multidisciplinary team, including peer mentors, a Child Protection practice leader and access to two designated beds at Odyssey House. A skilled addiction recovery case manager can also refer parents to appropriate services.

Children’s Court of Victoria President Judge Amanda Chambers said the award celebrated the tireless work of many people.

“The FDTC operates as an effective multi-disciplinary team,” Judge Chambers said.

“I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Reserve Magistrate Greg Levine, Regional Co-ordinating Magistrate Kaye Macpherson, and Magistrate Annabel Hawkins for their commitment and dedication to the children and families served by the FDTC in both Broadmeadows and now Shepparton.”

The FDTC was launched in 2014, following the findings of Magistrate Greg Levine OAM whose 2011 Churchill Fellowship investigated similar Family Drug Treatment courts in the United Kingdom and United States.

Magistrate Levine created the FDTC with the belief that a non-adversarial, problem-solving approach could successfully reunify families. This proved to be true.

The award also recognised that the success of the FDTC has “attracted interest from other jurisdictions in Australia and [that] its solutions are influencing child protection practice beyond the Victorian context”.

The 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards was hosted by Department of Health and Human Services in Melbourne on 3 September 2019

L-R: Alicia Strickland, Clinical Practice Leader FDTC; Reserve Magistrate Greg Levine; The Hon. Luke Donnellan, Minister for Child Protection; Magistrate Anabel Hawkins; Regional Coordinating Magistrate Kay Mcpherson; Matthew Wilson, Statewide Program Manager FDTC; Judge Amanda Chambers, President of the Children’s Court of Victoria; Kym Peake, Secretary Department of Health and Human Services.