Beth* was worried about her family. Her 16-year-old daughter Rosie has once been an excellent student – now she was struggling at school. There were fights in the house often – angry, awful, screaming matches between Rosie and Beth and Rosie and her step-dad. Rosie’s brother Danielle was having anxiety attacks and had become withdrawn. And goodness knows what effect the tension and conflict were having on two much-younger little brothers.
Beth became so distressed she was hospitalised.
The family needed help before something even more terrible happened. Then it did. Rosie’s dad died unexpectedly and in the grief and confusion that followed, Rosie started self-harming.
It was into this complex scenario that Anglicare Victoria sent Jacqueline, a specialist family therapist. Jacqueline visited the home and sat around a table with family members, gently unpicking the anger and hurt, allowing each family member to be heard, and providing non-judgmental support. The family learned techniques they could use to prevent disagreement becoming abusive or violent. They agreed to try new ways to manage conflict. They listened to each other.
And although it was hard, they changed things.
Rosie was able to talk out some the hurt and even guilt she felt about her father’s death. Beth, who’d felt trapped between her daughter and husband, could step back from the role of referee. The atmosphere of the home began to improve. There were still arguments, but Jacqueline had taught the family negotiation techniques and helped establish some ground-rules for behaviour that everyone agreed to.
Rosie’s so much better. And so is Beth. Quiet Daniel is coming out of his shell a little.
“We feel like a family now”, says Rosie.
Anglicare Victoria has been investing in families through programs that teach parenting skills, help people manage conflict, and ultimately, help give children safer and more secure home lives.
It’s working. The early evidence from this family-focused work is that it can reduce – substantially – the number of children who are removed from their families and placed in Out Of Home Care. This work reduces harm to children. It gives parents the skills they may never have seen modelled by their own parents. This work is changing the family ‘story’ for thousands of children across Victoria.
With your help and the help of other Anglicare Victoria supporters, this work can give more vulnerable kids a loving supportive family life.
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality