More information about Family Relationship Centres

       

Common Questions

What do the Centres do?

  • Provide information for families: People who need information to help them with relationships will find it in one place and the Centres offer information for people of all ages at any stage of their family relationship.
  • The Centres run public information sessions covering family relationship issues, including parenting after separation.
  • Help families use other services: The Centres make it easier for families to find out about and use the many existing services throughout Australia that can help them. These other services include early intervention services that help prevent relationships from breaking down.
  • Provide assistance for separating families: As well as providing information and referral, Centres are able to help separating parents in a number of ways, including:
    • individual interviews for separating/separated parents to help them identify issues and options and focus on the needs of their children
    • group programs on parenting after separation
    • joint sessions for separating parents to help them reach agreement on parenting arrangements.

Do separating couples have to attend a Centre?

  • It is not compulsory to visit a Family Relationship Centre. However, there are requirements under the Family Law Act for people to make a genuine effort to resolve their disputes by family dispute resolution before taking a parenting matter to court. There are exceptions to this requirement such as cases involving family violence or child abuse. Further information about family dispute resolution is available by clicking on the following link:Information about family dispute resolution.
  • Any registered family dispute resolution provider, not just Family Relationship Centres, can conduct family dispute resolution under the Family Law Act. Registered family dispute resolution providers may be community, government-funded and private sector organisations and private practitioners. People can choose the registered family dispute resolution provider who they think will best meet their needs.
  • You can find a registered family dispute resolution provider by clicking on the following link:Find a registered family dispute resolution provider.

Are services free?

  • Centres will provide individual advice free of charge.
  • Centres will also provide one hour of joint dispute resolution sessions (such as mediation) 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.
  • Any fees charged by Centres will take into account the family’s ability to pay. In some cases fees will be waived.

What if there is not a Centre in my area?

  • If there’s not a Family Relationship Centre for your area and you want to find out about other services in your area call the Advice Line on 1800 050 321.

Who runs the Centres?

  • The Centres are run by a range of independent organisations whose professionally qualified staff deliver high quality, confidential and impartial services, and who are able to make referrals if necessary. These professionals have high levels of skill in relevant areas, including identifying family violence and child abuse.

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The Service Charter

Family Relationship Centres are committed to providing you with safe, timely and high quality services. Centres will help you focus on your children’s needs and will help you access services that can strengthen family relationships.

Centres are committed to the following Service Charter:

Information

We will provide up-to-date information about family relationships or help you to find this information.

Accessing other services

We will help you make contact with other services that can best meet your needs and the needs of your children, and will work closely with other services to help you get the support you need.

Help for separating families

If you are experiencing separation we will talk with you to help you focus on your children’s needs and decide what to do next. We will also offer joint sessions with the other parent or family members. If you want the other parent to come in as well, and this is hard for you, we will help to arrange that.

Fees

We will provide information, referral and individual sessions free of charge. We will also provide one hour of joint sessions free of charge. We will charge clients earning $50,000 or more gross annual income $30 per hour for the second and third hours of family dispute resolution. We 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. We will charge fees in accordance with our Centre’s fees policy for subsequent dispute resolution sessions, if they are required. We will discuss these fees with you prior to commencing joint dispute resolution sessions

Our staff

We are committed to employing the best possible people to help you with your relationships, and to making sure that staff are highly skilled and ethical.

Safety

We are committed to providing a safe environment. If you feel unsafe at any stage, or require special arrangements to assist with your safety or the safety of your children, please advise a staff member.

Privacy

Your privacy is important to us and will be protected. We will only disclose personal information if you give permission to do so or if we are required or authorised by law, for example, to protect someone from harm.

Using our service

We will do all that we can to help you and your children get the most out of our service. If you have trouble using our service for any reason, or if you have special needs, please advise a staff member.

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Complaints Process

Centres want to make sure that they are providing you with the best possible service. If you like the services a Centre has provided, please let the Centre know. If you have any suggestions for changes, the Centre needs to hear those too.

If you want to make a complaint, please contact the Centre concerned and it will try to address your concerns.

If you are not satisfied with how your complaint is handled please contact:

Complaints
Department of Social Services
GPO Box 9820
Canberra ACT 2610

Telephone: 1800 634 035
Email: complaints@dss.gov.au

Please ask a Centre for a copy of its complaints policy if you would like more information.

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2018 : Last modified 8/12/2015 12:19 PM