Referral Services for Clients

This page provides information on services that separated or separating clients may be referred to.

   

Family Relationship Centres

Family Relationship Centres provide information for people dealing with separation. They provide individual sessions, group information sessions, seminars and referrals to other services. Joint sessions are available for one hour free of charge. Centres will charge clients earning $50,000 or more gross annual income $30 per hour for the second and third hours of family dispute resolution. Centres will provide the second and third hours of joint family dispute resolution, free of charge, to clients who earn less than $50,000 gross annual income or receive Commonwealth health and social security benefits. Centres may also charge fees in accordance with the Centre’s fees policy if further joint sessions are required. Centre staff will discuss these fees with you before commencing joint dispute resolution sessions.

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Family Relationship Advice Line - 1800 050 321

The Family Relationship Advice Line is a national telephone service established to assist families affected by relationship or separation issues. The Advice Line provides information on family relationship issues and advice on parenting arrangements after separation. It can also refer callers to local services that can provide assistance. The Family Relationship Advice Line (1800 050 321) is available from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday, and 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday (local time), except national public holidays.

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Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) can help parents sort out a range of issues relating to property, money and children.

From 1 July 2008, all individuals wanting to apply to a court for a parenting order will need to first attend FDR, and obtain a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution provider confirming that an attempt at family dispute resolution was made. This includes new applications and applications seeking changes to an existing parenting order. There are exceptions to the requirement which are:

  • applications for consent orders
  • responding to an application
  • urgent matters
  • where there has been, or there is a risk of family violence or child abuse
  • where a party is unable to participate effectively (due to incapacity or geographical location), or
  • where a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard to a court order made in the last 12 months.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, communications made in FDR to a FDR practitioner are confidential - except in certain circumstances as defined under that Act. For example, exceptions include where the FDR practitioner reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of complying with a law of the Commonwealth, State or a Territory; protecting a child from the risk of harm (whether physical or psychological); preventing or lessening a serious and imminent threat to a person’s life or health; or reporting the commission or preventing the likely commission of an offence involving violence or a threat of violence to a person. Also, under the Family Law Act, a communication made in FDR is not admissible in any court or proceedings, in any jurisdiction. However, an FDR practitioner must report child abuse, or anything said that indicates a child is at risk of abuse to the relevant authorities as this may be used as evidence in certain circumstances.

The confidentiality and admissibility provisions only apply to FDR practitioners as defined under the Family Law Act.

 

FDR Practitioners

Individuals wanting to become an accredited FDR practitioner must apply to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for inclusion on the Family Dispute Resolution Register.

Find Family Dispute Resolution information and services

Find information on standards for current and potential FDR Practitioners

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Children’s Contact Services

Children’s Contact Services enable children of separated parents to have safe contact with the parent that they do not live with in circumstances where parents are unable to manage their own contact arrangements. A court may order that the handover of children, or the time children spend with a parent or another family member, be supervised. The Services facilitate supervised handovers or visits.

Anything said or done at a Children’s Contact Service can be reported as evidence to any court. The Services may provide reports about what the workers have observed during a changeover or visit to a parent, the court, either parent’s solicitor, or an independent lawyer appointed to represent a child.

Children’s Contact Services may recommend that one or both parents participate in a post separation parenting program. A court can order attendance at other programs at any time during legal action to try to resolve issues between parents.

Find Children’s Contact Services

Find Children’s Contact Services Information

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Parenting Orders Program

The Parenting Orders Program helps separating families in high conflict to work out parenting arrangements that allow parents and other family members to establish or maintain relationships with their children. Children can also talk to a family counsellor as part of the Program. Courts may encourage or order parents to attend this Program. Options under the Program include talking with a family counsellor, attending an information seminar, taking part in an education group with other parents in similar situations or trying family dispute resolution (if both parents are willing).

Under the Family Law Act, communications made in family counselling to a family counsellor are confidential - except in certain circumstances as defined under that Act. For example, exceptions include where the family counsellor reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of complying with a law of the Commonwealth, State or a Territory; protecting a child from the risk of harm (whether physical or psychological); preventing or lessening a serious and imminent threat to a person’s life or health; or reporting the commission or preventing the likely commission of an offence involving violence or a threat of violence to a person. Also, under the Family Law Act, a communication made in family counselling is not admissible in any court or proceedings, in any jurisdiction. However, a family counsellor must report child abuse, or anything said that indicates a child is at risk of abuse to the relevant authorities as this may be used as evidence in certain circumstances.

The confidentiality and admissibility provisions only apply to family counsellors as defined under the Family Law Act. This includes approved Family Relationship Services Program (FRSP) organisations. Therefore, family counsellors under the Parenting Orders Program would be covered by those provisions.

Fees may be charged for participating in the Program, depending on the parent’s financial circumstances.

Find Parenting Orders Program services

Find Parenting Orders Program information

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Post Separation Cooperative Parenting Services

Post Separation Cooperative Parenting services aim to assist highly conflicted separated parents in regional areas to manage their conflict in their child’s best interests. The Service provides education seminars and family counselling if required. Courts may encourage or order parents to attend this Service. Parents may also choose to go to the Service.

As mentioned above, the admissibility and confidentiality provisions under the Family Law Act apply to FRSP approved organisations. Therefore, family counsellors who provide family counselling as part of this Service would be covered by those provisions. If a parent has not complied with a parenting order, a court may make a further order for them to attend a post separation parenting program. Courts will be informed if a parent fails to attend or if a parent is unsuitable to attend.

Services may charge fees depending on a parent’s financial circumstances.

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Find Post Separation Cooperative Parenting information

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Supporting Children after Separation Program

The Supporting Children after Separation Program is a program for children and young people under 18 who need support when their parents have separated.

As mentioned above, the admissibility and confidentiality provisions under the Family Law Act apply to FRSP approved organisations. Therefore, family counsellors who provide family counselling under this Program would be covered by those provisions. Fees may be charged for the Program, depending on the parent’s financial circumstances.

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Counselling (includes family therapy)

Family Relationship Counselling Services will help people with relationship difficulties better manage personal or interpersonal issues regarding children and family during marriage or a de-facto relationship, during or after separation and during or after divorce. As mentioned above, the admissibility and confidentiality provisions under the Family Law Act apply to FRSP approved organisations. Therefore, family counsellors who provide family counselling as part of the Family Relationship Counselling Service would be covered by those provisions.

Parents who decide to go to court for a decision about their children may still have to see a family counsellor. A court can order one or both parent to see a family counsellor at any time during legal action to resolve differences regarding children. Generally, a court will not make a parenting order unless the parent/s have seen a family counsellor, except in some circumstances (such as in urgent cases). Fees may be charged, depending on the parent’s financial circumstances.

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Other Family Relationship Services

These services offer education and skills, counselling, and community development to help families to strengthen parenting and relationship skills.

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Family Violence Prevention

Interventions designed to prevent violence or to deal with the consequences of violence.

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2017 : Last modified 28/10/2016 11:19 AM