The Children’s Contact Centre at Interrelate provides supervised visits and handovers in Port Macquarie and Taree however Taree Contact Centre is currently closed until the end of the year 2020 and we will reassess this next year.
Children’s Contact Centre’s work with children from separated families to establish or maintain a relationship with the parent they do not live with. Children’s contact services provide a safe, neutral venue for the transfer of children of separated parents and supervised contact of same. The key goal of the CCS is to assist families, where possible (and where safe to do so) to self-management of contact and handover.
Unfortunately, the demand for these services has outstripped the capacity of the Contact Centre to meet that demand. There are currently no open spots for either service and there is a significant waiting list. At the time of writing this letter, there are 40 families on our CCS waitlist .Presently we estimate the wait time for a family to commence using the CCS is approximately 6 to 12 months.
This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
Children have the right to safely spend time with all of their important family members. The Contact Centre has been the primary method to achieve that aim in many families going through the Courts.
Given the constraints to this service availability, this is now an opportune time to consider alternatives more thoroughly, which may have salutary impacts on both short- and long-term family welfare.
The following alternative options to the Children’s Contact Centre may be considered by legal professionals and the Court – where it is safe to do so:
- Encouragement for parents to participate in psycho-education courses to assist them in building a positive approach to communication with the other parent. There are several different types of courses available, depending on the specific needs of your client. Have a one on one session with the post separation Coordinator (Building Stronger Families Coordinator) around better ways to communicate with the other parent to hopefully be able to facilitate your own visits or change overs.
- Encouragement for parents to seek out parenting courses to assist with their parenting skills, and to help with creating and maintaining strong connections with their child (ren). There are courses for different ages of children, as well as different parent demographics (i.e young parents, Indigenous, etc.)
- Consideration of alternative supervision options (where the Contact is not ordered by the Court and there is no need for supervision): Respected family members or friends, Supervised or supported play groups, Changeovers in public places.
Children’s Contact Centre Coordinator