Better Chances Forum

The BCF is working to reduce the number of children and young people in out of home care (OOHC) in Northern NSW, which following a decrease from over 1000 in 2014 to 877 in 2015 has increased again to 963 children and young people in OOHC in 2017.

The BCF Steering Group meets every two months to drive the Forum. The steering group includes members from across relevant community service networks and groups across the region (including from the health and education sectors). Membership is open to any group or individual who supports the purpose of the Better Chances Forum.

In NSW, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are more than 10 times as likely as other children to be in statutory OOHC. Nationally, in the 20 years following the Bringing Them Home Report in 1997, representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children increased from one in every five children in OOHC to one in every three (Family Matters Report 2017). In Northern NSW, 409 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were living in OOHC in 2017 representing 42.5 per cent of total numbers.

Understanding how the broader community services sector can work more supportively alongside Aboriginal workers, organisations and communities is key focus of the BCF. The steering group acknowledges the importance of culture to wellbeing for children, young people, and their families and communities, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and will work to reflect this in the approach and focus of the Forum’s activities.

Please download the BCF Terms of Reference here:


About Better Chances Forum

The Better Chances Forum (BCF) supports better chances for children, young people and their families by bringing together workers from organisations across the Northern Rivers to:

  • explore service system challenges, gaps and opportunities
  • identify and share information about what’s working well and what’s not in our services and communities
  • consider how BCF members can work better alongside communities.

Katrina Ross – Project Officer Social Strategy
phone: 0416 277 244, email: [email protected]

Better Chances Regional Forum 2019

13 June 2019

Lennox Head Community and Cultural Centre

If there was one thing you would like to see done differently to offer better chances for children, young people and their families in Northern NSW what would it be?

What is happening in your community or your service that is making a real difference?

The Better Chances regional forum at Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre on 13 June 2019 is focusing on the skills, support and relationships we need to do better. It’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves as workers, managers and organisations in community, health and education services, and as community members, families and commissioning agencies (funders), to think about what we need to do differently. What support do we need in our work to operate in a more trauma-sensitive way?

The BCF steering group is calling for proposals for papers, presentations, workshops and other activities at our 2019 regional forum. Proposals can come from within Northern NSW and beyond and need to respond to at least three of the criteria outlined below.

Please click the download button for more information and to submit your proposal. 



Working Together

– an initiative of the Better Chances Forum and NSW Department of Education

Working Together is a joint initiative of the Better Chances Forum (BCF) and NSW Department of Education (Public Schools), connecting schools in the Northern Rivers Region with community service providers. The initiative started in 2017 with networking events connecting BCF members with NSW Department of Education Schools Services staff in Tweed Shire, and later in Lismore and Clarence Valley.  Two more events were held in Tweed and Lismore in 2018.


In 2019 Better Chances Forum and NSW Department of Education progressed to hosting a Working Together events connecting school principals directly with local and regional services. The first of these speed dating events was held on 20 February at Coraki Public School. Twenty-one principals from the Lennox Coast Principals network connected with 35 workers from 23 local and regional services. Following the success of this event another is planned for Richmond in May.

Supporting Aboriginal early childhood workers

In 2018 the BCF steering group was asked to consider how we can better support Aboriginal early childhood workers to come together, support each other in their work and feedback collective to the broader sector through BCF about how mainstream services can work more supportively alongside them.


Aboriginal Early Childhood workers are often the first people families turn to for support when their children are at risk of removal. Planning for an initial strengthening day is underway supported by BCF and BCF members YWCA and Northcott.

Program resources

Getting the right support at the right time

Read the BCF submission on the Their Futures Matter Reform



The NSW Government Their Futures Matter reform is looking to reshape the access system so children, young people and their families get the right support at the right time. We need to invest earlier, improve accountability, consistency and coordination, and focus on how we can connect everyone approaching services with at least some form of support. If we are to function successfully as a trauma responsive system our funding contracts need to allow for the flexibility to do this. It needs to be reflected in our funding, program performance measures and our practice.


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