Saturday, 11 April 2009

CSA and Kids Helpline join forces to help kids

The Child Support Agency (CSA) and Kids Helpline have joined forces to support kids who are having trouble coping when their parents break up.

CSA General Manager, Matt Miller, "More parents are working together for the benefit of their children.,"

"Independent research conducted by the Open Mind Research Group in August 2008 showed that only 17 per cent of receiving parents and 14 per cent of paying parents surveyed said they were extremely unlikely to be able to liaise with their ex-partner in a businesslike way.

"This is significantly fewer compared to the previous wave of research conducted in early 2008 (37 per cent receiving parents and 31 per cent paying parents)." So while more separated parents are working together, they can still experience a range of emotions like grief, loss and depression when they separate and their children may be suffering too.

There are about 445,000 teenagers whose parents are registered with the CSA, with an additional 11,000 teenagers affected by family separation in Australia every year.

Kids Helpline General Manager, Wendy Protheroe, said the most common issue children call to talk about is family relationships, particularly conflict and separation."Last year we undertook almost 9,000 counselling sessions about family relationships and almost three-quarters of those related to frequent or major family conflict and family breakdown, separation or divorce," Ms Protheroe said.

"Many parents don't realise that even minor conflict can be harmful for their children, so it's important for families to be aware of the range of support services available."

Mr Miller said family separation is a common experience in Australia, and it was important for parents to put the wellbeing of their children first."I encourage separated parents to learn about the many resources available to not only help them, but also to help their kids," Mr Miller said.

Mr Miller said the booklet 'Family Separation - a guide for teens' offers great advice for teens about how to cope with their changing situation and contains a list of contacts they can approach for support. The information is also available at http://www.youth.csa.gov.au/

The booklet and website were developed in consultation with more than 20 stakeholders and community organisations including Kids Helpline, beyondblue and Relationships Australia."The guide helps teenagers to identify their rights and it contains a list of contacts that teens can approach for help," Mr Miller said.

"We encourage those who feel they need support to ask for it them to reach out to friends and professionals if they need to." One parent who was involved in the research of the booklet said it was something that would help parents address questions they didn't know their children had.

"Everyone says kids cope, that they just adapt, and they do, but there's a lot left unspoken."The CSA is also in the process of developing products specifically for children aged under 12 who are experiencing family separation, addressing common issues like grief, anxiety and dealing with conflict.Kids Helpline, Australia's only national children's counselling service, provides 24 hour counselling services to young people aged 5 to 25 years - free call 1800 55 1800 or online at http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

"When parents separate, young people often say they feel isolated so it's important that they know they're not alone, and that there are people they can talk to," Mr Miller said.Order CSA publications on 1800 040 972 or at http://www.csa.gov.au/

Edited media release from Child Support Agency

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