Many families are overwhelmed, confused and frustrated by the process of trying to get help for their child and family. It is often hard to know where to start, and many dead-ends may be encountered before finding somewhere that suits your specific needs.
There are many organisations and programs that exist to help young people and their families. One of the difficulties is that due to the nature of the service system, services, funding and workers change regularly. Patience and persistence is important.
These help sheets provide some practical ideas for getting the help you need for your young person and your family.
If your child is still at school, it is important to talk to school staff about the difficulties that your child or family is experiencing. The school may be able to provide help for your family, particularly if they employ a school welfare officer, or they may be able to refer you to someone else.
A doctor can provide a referral for an assessment, such as a psychiatric or psychological assessment, if this is required. They can also help clarify and address some of the difficulties your child may be experiencing.
Generalist youth services provide information, advice and counselling to young people and often link young people into specialist programs if these are required. Specialist youth services and programs usually focus on providing assistance or treatment for a particular problem or issue.
Family Counselling Services offer support for individuals and families and some will provide counselling regardless of the age of family members. Family Support Services may provide case-management, which involves working with the family to sort out the main issues.
Another way to consult a health or welfare professional is through private practice. This is when they have their own business rather than work for an organisation. Many practitioners work in both public and private sectors.
Many programs for young people are provided by welfare organisations or agencies. These organisations may receive funding from local, state or federal governments for different programs. They may also run other programs that they fund independently.
In Australia, local, state and commonwealth governments all provide health services and support programs for young people and their families.
Telephone Advice and Support Groups for Families
There are a number of telephone advice and support services operating in Victoria.
Using the Internet to Locate Services
Many services have their own website, and many can be found through links provided by other services.
"Finding help for my son was really difficult. I didn't know where to start. The doctor didn't really help much - he seemed to think that if my son just talked to someone, everything would be all right. At times, I felt like he was saying it was my fault."