Mental Health Week (4-10 October) is an opportunity to increase awareness of important emotional wellbeing issues parents face if their family breaks up. Mental Health Week (4-10 October) is an opportunity to increase awareness of important emotional wellbeing issues parents face if their family breaks up.
Assistant Secretary for Parent Support at the Child Support Agency, Katrina Baird, said separation was a common experience for many families. Gaining access to quality resources and support services early could make a big difference to how separated families fared in the long term.
"In many cases, seeking support early can reduce conflict and result in positive outcomes for everyone involved - parents as well as children," Ms Baird said.
"There is a wide variety of government and support services available for newly separating families and the Child Support Agency's advice and referrals can make it easier for separated families to find crucial support services as soon as possible.
"Each month the CSA directly connects about 25-30 parents who are distressed and wanting help to deal with the emotional issues arising from separation to trained counsellors at specialist parent support service, Parentline ACT.
"According to the Australian Government report*, Families in Australia: 2008, one in five families with children under the age of 18 are single or separated. While around 7 per cent of all families with children aged under 18 live in step or blended families.
"There is life after marriage breakdown. It helps to ask for help early. If you can get to a point where you can look outside your own needs, the children can and should benefit. I have always said to my children that I left the dwelling, I never left the children. It is an important message they need to know. It is because of this and being honest with them that our relationship remains strong." - Separated dad
The Department of Human Services recently launched a new product: My family is separating, what now? http://familyseparation.humanservices.gov.au. The new website simplifies the process of trawling through multiple websites looking for information on what to do when going through family separation.
For further information about the Child Support Agency support services go to www.csa.gov.au and follow the links to the Community Services Directory.* Families in Australia: 2008 - published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet http://www.pmc.gov.au/publications/families/
Mental Health tips for newly separated parents:
1. Be informed There are a range of child support options and support services for single and separated families. If you are newly separated, or thinking about separating, call the Child Support Agency on 131 272 or visit www.csa.gov.au.
2. Ask for support early and develop a workable relationship Parents are more likely to develop a workable relationship with their ex if they seek support early. Support services available for separated families include:
- Family Relationship Centres (www.familyrelationships.gov.au or 1800 050 321)
- Relationships Australia Mensline 1300 789 978/ firstname.lastname@example.org
- National Domestic Violence Line 1800 200 526
- Centrelink 13 61 50
These organisations provide counselling, family mediation, anger management workshops, parenting plans, agreements, financial counselling and more.
3. Keep conflict away from your kids Discuss separation with your kids in a positive way. There are a number of resources available to help support kids through separation. Family Relationships Australia has a children's book Question and answers about separation for children which can be downloaded from www.familyrelationships.gov.au
Kids can call the Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 for free confidential anonymous support.
Lifeline 13 11 14.
4. Seek additional advice if necessary Parents can find out about legal, financial and community support services in their area by visiting CSA's new website http://familyseparation.humanservices.gov.au or the Community Services Directory at http://csd.csa.gov.au.
Support services include:
- LawAccess Hotline on 1300 888 529
- Mensline on 1300 789 978
- National Domestic Violence Line 1800 200 526
- Centrelink Social Workers offer confidential support for individuals experiencing family violence 13 61 50
5. Try managing your child support privately. Private Collect is the most popular option for CSA customers because it is flexible and requires little CSA involvement. Separated parents can register with the CSA, use the child support assessment to determine the amount of child support to be paid but manage the actual transfer of child support themselves. CSA research has shown parents on Private Collect are more likely to have successful workable relationships with their ex, post- separation.
6. Keep your information current· Changes in your circumstances may affect your child support assessment. · Lodge tax returns on time.· Update personal information such as income and employment status. · Notify the CSA of any changes in living arrangements, care, new children or private payments (if on CSA Collect).
7. Take charge Call 131 272 between 8.30am and 4.45pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays) if you have any questions or concerns regarding child support.
Source: CSA Media release