The Harrington family’s story

BY The Harrington Family| Posted May 21, 2021
The Harrington family’s story

For many years OzChild has been delivering Family Law Services in South West Victoria. Our teams in Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton and Camperdown provide family relationship information, deliver parenting programs – Triple P Transitions, facilitate the Children’s Contact Service and provide counselling, and the running of the Family Relationship Centre to deliver family dispute resolution and property mediation – to name just a few of the things they do!

These services are imperative in helping families to move peacefully and respectfully through separation and conflict. Without services like this families can be torn apart and children and young people face incredible disruption, trauma and distress. The work of our Family Law Services team in the South West is vital in supporting the strengthening and repairing of family relationships and play a crucial role in keeping children and young people safe. Like the Harrington* family who were supported through a difficult time recently.

Mum, Carlie* contacted our team after what she believed was a false report to child protection of an incident where she was alleged to have struck her son Timmy*. Carlie maintained the incident was an accident, however Timmy’s dad, Marcus* believed his son was at risk of harm if Carlie was allowed to continue caring for him.

An intervention order was issued against Carlie and she secured a court date with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to have parenting orders made.  Following intake and assessment the family’s file was presented to the clinical risk meeting to discuss service offering and management of risk issues for this family.

Family Law staff working with Carlie initiated several services with Western Region Family Law Services following an intake screening and assessment process which identified needs, risks, protective factors, resources, and a family history.  The screening and assessment process is conducted with both parents individually prior to any Family Law Services being offered. The services identified to support Carlie’s goal of resuming the primary parenting role with her son included,  supervised contact for her and Timmy with Children’s Contact Service, mediation with the Family Relationship Centre and Family Transitions Triple P with the Post Separation Cooperative Parenting team. The initial aim of the Children’s Contact Service was to ensure continuity of contact between Timmy and Carlie throughout this process.  The mediation service provides parents with an opportunity to negotiate a new parenting arrangement. 

Carlie commenced the Family Transitions Triple P group and attended the first two of the five scheduled group sessions independently.  She engaged actively in the group and used her current experiences of parenting Timmy, her new experience of being a parent who doesn’t live with their child and challenges with her ex-partner and the child protection system to engage with the session content.

Marcus completed the Family Transitions program engaging fully in the five week program reflecting on his parenting and the impact of the separation on his parenting, Marcus realised the need to be child focused and remained positive about Carlie’s parenting and following completion of the group became supportive of the Children’s Contact Service supervised contact progressing to supervised contact outside of the service.  

OzChild’s Stepping Stones to School readiness and transition program also supported Marcus as he continued to care for Timmy, assessing and supporting his readiness for transition to school.   

Each of the programs provided are voluntary, short-term, child focused interventions with the family that support the physical and emotional wellbeing of the family members and supported their transition through the crisis toward self-management post separation. Thanks to the support of our team in the South West, the Harrington family were provided with an integrated service experience that was responsive to their expressed goals and need in real time, and are living more harmoniously without conflict and a better understanding of the need to focus on Timmy’s wellbeing as they navigate family life as a separated unit . 

*names have been changed to protect the identity of this family

Family Law Services

Our family law program works with parents and other care givers before and after separation to improve their relationships, reach agreements and see and maintain contact with children in a safe way.

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Stepping Stones to School

Stepping Stones to School is a collaborative, early childhood transition project which enhances relationships and connections between families and early years providers. The project improves outcomes for children and supports provider capacity, so that more children in the region have a positive transition to school experience.

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