Kinship Care and Orphan Relative Visas
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Kinship Care and Orphan Relative Visas


Victorian Kinship Care Program

In 2008 ISS Australia received funding from the Fred P Archer Charitable Trust for the Victorian Kinship Care Project, which aimed to achieve better outcomes for Victorian children in alternative care by exploring the capacity of overseas family members to become potential carers.

ISS Australia first liaised with the Victorian Department of Human Services to identify children in alternative care who may benefit from international kinship care.

ISS Australia also made a submission to the Victorian Government’s Review on Kinship Care, to contribute to the development of future policy in this area. The submission is available for download.

As a result of the Program, ISS Australia has engaged with government to promote international kinship care as an option that has the potential to improve outcomes for Victorian children in alternative care.

ISS Australia thanks the Fred P Archer Charitable Trust for their generous funding of this project.

International Kinship Care – Observations from the Australian context

International kinship care involves placing children who are in out of home care in one country with family members in another country.

Facilitating kinship care across international borders is a significant part of ISS Australia’s work, however there is little documented research on the most appropriate ways to undertake the kinship care process, particularly to ensure protection of the rights of the child.

In 2010 the R.E Ross Trust generously provided funding for ISS Australia to undertake research outlining the obstacles to international kinship care and suggested models of best practice in resolving some of these issues.

Between 2010 and 2011, a qualitative research project on the subject of International Kinship Care was undertaken by researcher Siobhan Kavanagh. The report, International Kinship Care – Observations from the Australian context, is available for download.  

ISS Australia thanks the R.E. Ross Trust for their ongoing confidence in and support for our work.

Protecting and supporting children in kinship care arrangements

In June 2012, ISS Australia received generous three-year funding from the Barr Family Foundation for a project on protection and support for children migrating to Australia for the purposes of kinship care arrangements.

The project has been implemented in two streams: first, the provision of support by social workers experienced in international kinship care placements to families and children involved in an international kinship care placement.

The support provided is based on the needs of the family and child or children concerned, and may be provided pre-placement (before a child enters Australia to live with family members) or post-placement (after a child arrives in Australia).

The project’s second stream involves research and advocacy on the situation of children migrating to Australia for kinship care placements, with a focus on placements that do not involve assessments of carer suitability or post placement support.

Home Safe Home Report

In November 2012, researcher Siobhan Kavanagh was engaged by ISS Australia to develop a greater understanding of the issues experienced by children, young people and carers in international kinship care arrangements in Victoria, with a focus on those arrangements that do not involve assessments of carer suitability or post placement support.

Her research has been published as the Home Safe Home report, launched in May 2013.

A copy of the report may be downloaded here.

The report made five recommendations, including a call for changes to the Orphan Relative visa application process which would make assessment of any potential carer’s suitability mandatory.

ISS Australia gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Barr Family Foundation in making this project possible.

NewBeginnings: Issues and Needs in International Kinship Care

ISS Australia is proud to present its first published book, written by our Senior Research Associate Dr Klaus Serr (also Senior Lecturer, La Trobe University) and Dr David Rose, Senior Lecturer with the University of Melbourne (Social Work).

The work presents research findings on children migrating to Australia under the provisions of the Orphan Relative Visa, and represents the final stage of a multi-year project generously supported by the Barr Family Foundation.

The book can be purchased directly from ISS Australia for AUD$20.00, via the link below.

‘Children and young people, many from conflict-affected countries, who arrive in Australia on orphan relative visas are highly vulnerable. In this report professionals with experience of working in this field discuss their perceptions of the needs of these young people and their carers. The authors demonstrate how the young people have been neglected by public policy, and also that current services are neither sufficient nor appropriately organised to effectively meet the needs of the young people and their families. In making visible the needs of these young people the authors have identified a significant issue that is to be addressed if these young people are to be nurtured in their development’

-Associate Professor Margarita Frederico, La TrobeUniversity, Melbourne


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Other projects

International Kinship Care video

Project Prevent is an online campaign designed to raise awareness and provide timely information for families at risk of, or who are currently experiencing international parental child abduction.