Mandate on-site counselling, to parents that receive Care and Protection Orders.
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I am calling on The Hon Pru Goward MP, The Hon Tanya Davies MP, NSW State Government and members of the public, to address the need to mandate on-site counselling support, for parents who have been issued with Assumption of Care Orders under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection Act) 1998, for the purpose of suicide prevention and the prevention of exacerbated grief associated trauma.
Australia is a nation in which we take mental health issues seriously. We heavily support and fund organisations and programs, to ensure the mental health of the country as a whole, is regulated. Mental health workers are provided by our employers, schooling, universities, sporting clubs etc. Often it is mandatory to seek counselling, for bereavement, on-site conflict, coping with demands or workplace injury.
Yet, it is not considered the responsibility or duty of care by Family and Community Services to provide on-site grief counselling and support after they remove a child from their parent and hand them Assumption of Care Orders. This is crucial, in order to ensure the parent can safely return home or to a support network, without risk of suicidal ideations (which can then prolong the parent's issues that pertained to removal in the first place).
Currently, the only way this is handled, is to serve the papers to the parent and observe/ document the conversation for legal purposes, leaving the parent to their own devices. The responsibilities of Family and Community Services are focused on the child and placing them in a safe environment and if appropriate and safe, to facilitate in providing contact between the parent and the child once the child has settled into placement.
Most parents are too traumatised and grief stricken after this process, to logically comprehend the need or the desire for counselling, or know who to contact. By the time the parent realises they may need to talk to someone, it is common for most, to turn to alcohol or illegal substances, to self medicate through the grieving process, which then only fuels the already existing problems.
Domestic and family violence, make up more than 80% of child protection cases, though not always the only factor in a single case. Although men are more likely to commit suicide 74%, suicide in women make up to more than 26%, 39% of which are known to police in relation to domestic and family violence (either as a victim, perpetrator or both). There are a number of research reports indicating the link between domestic violence and suicide. We also know there are links between domestic violence and child protection.
My recommendation is for Family and Community Services to implement a one-off crisis counselling appointment directly after handing over orders to parents, whilst they are still on the premises, to give parents a chance to process and discuss their grief with a professional, instead of being hurried out the door after losing their child. Crisis counselling could also involve, assisting to implement a safety plan and discuss how the parent can be supported at home with referrals to out-patient support through local counselling services. This could then also mean, a faster rehabilitation and recovery process.
A child's protection and safety is always paramount, but not excluding to the needs of a parent especially that of which is known to have a history with Child Protection Services. However in 98% of cases of removal, a parent is still active in their child's life. Therefore, the way in which we help support parents, in turn supports a better relationship dynamic for parent and child, thus prevents any further negative impact on the child.
Surely the government can implement some time and resources to support the parent through this grief, in order to prevent any risk of harm or suicide?
Please sign my petition if you agree that Family and Community Services should implement a duty of care to parents, by providing crisis counselling as part of their mandatory responsibilities.
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