Building meaningful relationships after separation
Ned had barely seen his father since he was a toddler; his little brother Oscar had never met him.
To Ned, their dad was a distant and scary figure. His hazy memories of him involved shouting, banging doors, tears and bruises.
Ned’s memory didn’t deceive him. His parents Mary and Robert’s relationship had been marred by family violence and challenges, with Robert turning to drugs to cope with his mental health issues. During this period, Robert breached an Interim Violence Order and Mary’s anxiety spiralled. The family became entangled in lengthy legal proceedings.
Mary wanted the boys to have a relationship with their father. The family applied for access to Bethany’s Supervised Contact Services which would provide a neutral and safe venue for the children to meet with Robert.
A Bethany Supervised Contact Worker met with Ned and Oscar to provide orientation sessions, allowing the children to become familiar with the Bethany staff and building.
Soon, Ned and Oscar felt comfortable to meet with Robert in the presence of a Bethany worker and their paternal grandmother – a familiar and safe person to the children.
The family went on to have many supervised contact visits with their father at Bethany and in the community. During this time, the children formed a bond with Robert and went from being unsure and scared of a man they barely knew to being excited to spend time with their dad.
Eventually, the family were able to organise a self-management plan for their child contact arrangements and no longer require the support of Bethany’s Contact Services.
Ned and Oscar may not live with their dad, but they now benefit from having a positive and meaningful relationship with him.
Bethany’s Supervised Contact Services offers two services:
- Children’s Contact Service (CCS) – a government funded service, and
- Family Engagement Service (FES) – a profit for purpose service.
Both services provide families with an independent and neutral venue where children and young people can spend time with the parent who they do not live with in a safe, supportive, and child-focused environment.
Bethany Supervised Contact Services in 2021
At the end of 2021, the Children’s Contact Service received an increase in funding, allowing the team to take on new staff – a permanent part-time Supervised Contact Worker and a permanent part-time Administration Assistant. Both roles commenced in January 2022.
Due to the Pandemic, the service operated at a reduced capacity from 1 July 2020 until 4 February 2021. Face-to-face supervised contact visits adhered to strict policies and procedures to ensure the safety of the clients and staff. This included limiting the length of visitations and the numbers of clients in the building at any one time.
Supervised Contact Services was also forced to closed at various times due to Victorian State Government COVID-19 directives. During these periods, the Supervised Contact Services team worked with families to support safe contact with children where it was possible, including via phone calls, FaceTime, Skype and in-person contact.
During 2021, Children’s Contact Service clients reported:
- 87.9% positive change in their circumstances
- 89.4% positive change in their goals
- 92.6% satisfaction with the service they received
- 14.8% increase in satisfaction (compared to previous year).
During 2021, the Children’s Contact Service supported 39 families with Supervised Contacts and Facilitated Changeovers, allowing 65 children to have safe and meaningful relationships with their non-residential parent. In addition, the Family Engagement Service supported 11 families with Supervised Contacts, allowing for 19 children to have a relationship with their non-residential parent.