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15 October 2020

Positive ten years for R.E.F.O.C.U.S. is just the beginning

Australian Indigenous family support organization R.E.F.O.C.U.S (Redirecting and Empowering Families through Culturally Unique Services) are celebrating a decade of helping empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Australia’s Sunshine Coast region - including through the delivery of the Group Triple P (Indigenous focus) program.

Known more simply as REFOCUS, the organization has worked with more than 8000 clients, helping families to provide resilient, safe and happy environments for their children.

Part of the organisation’s continued success is the emphasis on acknowledging and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within families and communities, and offering support rather than enforcing or imposing a one-size-fits-all model of family life.

CEO Darcy Cavanagh says the organization began with only six people in 2010 but now has more than 48 workers, helping to support a wide variety of Indigenous families.

While many families are simply looking for everyday support and advice that is culturally sensitive, the organization is also part of the Early Indigenous Response Collective, who work particularly with Indigenous families in the region who are vulnerable (for example, because of mental health issues, poverty, or domestic violence).

“In that space we have been able to reduce child protection notifications by 80 per cent,” Mr Cavanagh was quoted as saying in a Sunshine Coast Daily interview. “We have also seen a reduction in child protection orders being taken out on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.”

REFOCUS family support practitioner Ivan Olig added that for some families, it was a matter of trusting more in themselves, even if their own experiences growing up were difficult.

Debbie Currey, a practitioner who has also been with the organization since the beginning, said a constant source of motivation was knowing she was helping families make positive changes so their children could grow up in loving homes.


*Group Triple P (Indigenous focus) is a variant of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program® developed in 2006. Since then, it has been successfully used in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia. More than 500 practitioners have been trained to deliver the Group Triple P (Indigenous focus) program, most from within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organizations. Triple P also has two dedicated Indigenous Implementation Consultants to partner with organizations and help with culturally appropriate Triple P implementation.

[image: Ivan Olig, Debbie Currey, Darcy Cavanagh - courtesy R.E.F.O.C.U.S.]