Australia: La Trobe Wodonga to host critical forum on needs of children and orphans


LA TROBE University will host an education forum aimed at addressing issues in child and family welfare on Friday.class

Speakers from the North-East region and interstate will be discussing issues surrounding International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA), child rights, family law and international kinship care.

Dr Klaus Serr from La Trobe Wodonga said the forum was a chance for local agencies to hear and share their expertise relating to child welfare.

“The initial idea was to find people with expertise in child welfare and bring them to the region to offer expertise the people working here might not have had otherwise,” he said.

A big part of that was offering advice on how to work with the growing migrant population in Albury-Wodonga.

 Dr Serr’s work studies the needs of orphans in International Kinship Care, the placement of children with relatives (kin), with persons without a blood relation but who have a relationship with the child or family, or with persons from the child’s or family’s community.

“There are currently around 65 million refugees around the world, some of whom will invariably find their way to Australia and possibly here to our region,” Dr Serr said.

“People are coming here that have lost everything, and are coming here to be looked after by family members.


“That can be highly problematic because we don’t know who they are.

“We have looked at that in my work, what do we know about these people.”

Fellow speaker Syd Balachandran, from Deakin Univerity, will discuss parenting orders in the Family Court.

Mr Balachandran said he was concerned regional areas would be most affected by cuts to community services.

“It’s a controversial topic, cuts (in regional areas like Albury-Wodonga) will have big effects on newly separated parents and especially on children,” he said.

“I’m focused on informing the community of how the family law works with regards to that.

“I’ll be trying to present information that focuses on the Family Law Act, and reiterating that the focus of the court must be on the best interests of the children.

“It will explain how that works in reality, try and demystify some of it for potentially affected people and professionals who aren’t necessarily lawyers but interact with the Family Court.”

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