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The systems overseas can be very punitive with tight timeframes. Although timeframes can create tensions and problems, and our system is far from perfect, there is a lot of capacity in the Australian system, including Victoria, to practice inclusively and build a family inclusive system. Peer work and a focus on relational permanence will help. For example, there is no requirement to exclude family if reunification does not occur. There is also no absolute requirement to exclude the possibility of reunification post 1–2 year timeframes if this is in the best interests of children as it may be for older children who do not want or need an alternate long term family and in a range of other circumstances. We all know many children do eventually go home. One of the benefits of an inclusive approach is that it is relational – not driven primarily by rules and procedures that may not be in the interests of children. In my view, family inclusive practices and processes will increase the numbers of children who stay home and go home but they will just as importantly contribute to relational permanence for children who remain permanently in care – including permanent care orders, guardianship, etc.
2 November 2018