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Their Futures Matter Conference 2017

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Transforming life outcomes for vulnerable children and families

Dame Paula Rebstock speakingConference themes

  • A vital vision and long-term road-map – Their Futures Matter reform agenda
  • The new compass of data analytics – aligning investment to long-term outcomes
  • Well-being and life outcomes – a child-centred family systems approach
  • Commissioning for change – the provision of a connected response
  • Innovation and inspiration – a better future for children and families

Over 450 people joined together over two days on 14 and 15 November to address improving life outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

The conference brought together those with a shared vision to improve the allocation of services to better target need.

Key leaders and influencers, internationally and locally shared their experiences and best practice examples of change in action. A series of presentations and workshops demonstrated the importance of collaboration and working together.

The conference set the scene for the work that lies ahead as part of the Their Futures Matter reform.

Michael Coutts-Trotter presentingThe reform agenda sets out a plan for a more child-centred system, designed around needs and delivered through a single response. This will present a far less complex journey for children and families – one which recognises their role and allows their voices to be heard.

We need to flip the system so that the child looms large and the system looms small – Michael Coutts-Trotter, NSW Department of Family and Community Services 

The inclusion of families as part of the collaboration, with children at the centre, was a key theme underpinning the conference.

Dame Paula Rebstock answered questionsIn an inspirational opening presentation, Dame Paula Rebstock spoke candidly about New Zealand’s experience in tackling some of the issues faced by vulnerable children and young people. Dame Paula highlighted that the voice of children is hugely important, emphasising the need to prioritise the things that really matter to them.

The conference provided opportunities for policy-makers and practitioners to converge, network and hear from experts share innovative ideas and leading practice.

More opportunities to collaborate, share and proactively engage as a sector will be announced.


MC, Speakers and Panel Members, in order of appearance:

MC – Tracey Spicer

Tracey Spicer

Tracey Spicer is an iconoclast. The television, radio, newspaper and online journalist is now a highly sought-after writer, speaker and trainer.

Renowned for the courage of her convictions, passion for social justice, and commitment to equality, she also has a wicked sense of humour. During her 30-year career, Tracey has reported for, and anchored, national news, current affairs and lifestyle programs for ABC TV, Network Ten, Channel 9 and Sky News.

Speaker Introduction

Dame Paula Rebstock, DNZM

Keynote Speaker

 Paula Rebstock profile picture

Dame Paula Rebstock is an Auckland based economist and company director. She is Chair of New Zealand Vulnerable Children’s Board and in 2015 was chair of the Expert Advisory Panel established to review and provide recommendations on New Zealand’s care, protection and youth justice systems.

Dame Paula is also Chair of the Board of the Accident Compensation Corporation, Deputy Chair of KiwiRail, Chair of the Insurance and Financial Services Commission, and a Director of Auckland Transport.

Dame Paula was a member of the New Zealand Commerce Commission for 11 years and served as Chair from 2003 until 2009. Other past roles have included being a Director of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, as well as economic adviser/analyst positions with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the New Zealand Treasury.

Originally from Montana in the United States, Dame Paula moved to New Zealand in 1988. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree (Economics) from the University of Oregon and a Diploma and a Master of Science Degree (Economics) from the London School of Economics.

Dame Paula was the New Zealand Herald New Zealander of the Year in 2007. In 2009 she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for public services, and was appointed Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to the State in 2016. Dame Paula received the 2017 NZIER Economics Award.

Dr Sylvia Rowlands

Sylvia Rowlands profile picture

Senior Vice President of Evidence Based Community Programs at the New York Foundling

Dr. Sylvia Rowlands is a Senior Practitioner with 25 years’ experience in the social service and health care industry delivering evidence-based programs.

Sylvia was instrumental in the implementation of Multisystemic Therapy (MST), Functional Family Therapy (FFT), and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) as pre-and post-placement interventions in New York City.

In 2003, Sylvia brought her knowledge about evidence-based practices to the New York Foundling, Where she currently runs approximately $50 million of evidence based programs to assist vulnerable children and young people achieve better outcomes.

In 2010, Sylvia opened the Implementation Support Center (ISC). Since then she has served as the principal to 22 national and international social service and health care transformation initiatives. The Foundling’s proactive support of evidence based practice has continued to grow and the Foundling has provided expert reform consultation in their NYC community as well as on site internationally to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China, Japan, Scotland and England.

Before her work at New York Foundling, Sylvia worked as a staff psychologist in a juvenile justice residential facility for male violent offenders aged 12-17 in New York.

Michael Coutts-Trotter

Michael Coutts-Trotter Profile picture

Secretary, NSW Department of Family and Community Services

Michael Coutts-Trotter was appointed Director-General (now Secretary) of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services on 29 July 2013. He was appointed Director-General of the newly-created NSW Department of Finance and Services on 4 April 2011.

Before that he was the Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and Training for four years. He has also been the Director-General of the NSW Department of Commerce and was Chief of Staff to the NSW Treasurer for seven years.

Michael is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia NSW (IPAA).

Professor Morag McArthur

Morag McArthur

Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

Professor Morag McArthur has over 30 years of research experience in social work, public policy and child welfare and has worked to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice. She was the foundation director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies at Australian Catholic University from 2005-2016.

Morag has worked on a range of research projects aimed specifically at improving policy and practice that affects children, young people and their families. One key area of expertise is the development of innovative and participatory methodologies which include children and young people.

Annette Jackson BSW, MSW

Annette Jackson Profile picture

Senior Advisor Trauma & Healing, Berry Street Childhood Institute

Annette has been a social worker for 33 years focusing on children who have experienced abuse and neglect. She has worked in child protection, out-of-home care, family preservation and therapeutic services.

Annette is currently the regional director for Berry Street’s Gippsland programs. She is also an adjunct Associate Professor with La Trobe University, a fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy, a senior fellow (honorary) with the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry and an associate with Berry Street Childhood Institute.