The Family Action Centre (FAC) is a practice, teaching and research centre working with families and communities in all their diverse forms.
The Family Action Centre at The University of Newcastle (Australia) is an innovative, dynamic and unique Centre that aims to strengthen family and community wellbeing. At the Family Action Centre, practice and research go hand in hand. Ideas for new models or approaches come from the 'community' floor – that is, from ongoing direct work with families and communities that generates understanding of issues of concern and creative ideas on what might be done. Our research is undertaken to design, test, refine and then widely disseminate new approaches to working with families and communities. At the heart of this work is a belief in the strengths, gifts, capacities, ideas, interests, and resources of families and communities – a sense that innovation comes through the art of noticing and building on the rich personal, social, and physical assets that can be found in all individuals, families and communities.
The Family Action Centre is concerned with integrating direct service to strengthen families and communities with research, teaching and dissemination, with the ultimate aim of improving policy and practice in this field.
Where it all Began – The Caravan Project
The Caravan Project was the initial project that gave rise to the way in which the Family Action Centre operates today. The Caravan Project grew out of the emerging concern about vulnerable families forced into permanent residence in caravan parks during a resources boom in the 1980s in the Hunter Region of New South Wales Australia. A lecturer in Early Childhood Education investigated the issues and sought philanthropic funding to address the emergent social and educational needs of families and children living in environments not suited to permanent occupancy, and not sanctioned by legislation. The Caravan Project, now known as The Hunter Outreach Project, continues to receive ongoing funding from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, in recognition of its role in family support and child protection.
Upon this foundation in direct practice, the FAC has grown into a Centre that:
- We provide a range of services for families living with vulnerabilities and disadvantage.
- We work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- We teach 35 undergraduate and postgraduate courses annually, including the newly established Master of Family Studies.
- We host up to 20 students annually from a range of disciplines in an inter-professional placement unit for health professions.
- We provide a program of specialist professional development programs for human services workers in education, health, and family and community services.
- Researches & Advocates
- We are a national leader in fatherhood research.
- We provide consultancy services to non-government family and community organisations in community engagement practice; evaluation research; and capacity building.
- We enjoy constructive and productive working relationships with over 100 local, national and international partner organisations across practice, teaching, research and dissemination activities.
Central to the philosophy and operation of the FAC is an organisational culture that promotes and applies a strengths-based philosophy; values and supports its people; embraces innovation; and actively fosters the integration of practice, research and teaching.