2 June 2023

Griffith's first ever children's contact centre launches

| Oliver Jacques
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Two workers outside Interrelate office

Interrelate co-ordinators Brianna Bourke and Rebekah Madill. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A new service which allows parents to reconnect with their estranged children has opened in Griffith.

Interrelate, a statewide not-for-profit organisation, has been provided with Federal Government funding to set up a children’s contact centre – a facility where parents can have supervised visits with their children in cases where unsupervised contact is not possible.

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“It’s a venue where families come to so that children can spend time with people [such as a parent] they don’t live with,” co-ordinator Brianna Bourke said.

“It can be when things like an AVO [apprehended violence order] are in place, but also, it might be that a parent has moved to another state, they haven’t seen their child for an extended period of time, they’re using the service to reconnect with the child and build the relationship back up again.”

Advocates have been pushing for such a facility to be established in Griffith for several years. The lack of a children’s contact centre in town meant parents had to travel to Wagga to see their kids – but even those centres often had an 18-month waiting list, meaning parents were separated from their children on a semi-permanent basis.

“Having a service in Griffith really alleviates some of the travel and stress for families that have been going to Wagga,” Ms Bourke said.

“Interrelate charges $25 per parent per hour, but that cost can be completely waived … if parents are in financial hardship.”

Assistant co-ordinator Rebekah Madill said: “Funding and money definitely isn’t a barrier to families being able to see their children, if the fee needs to be waived for say three months or the whole duration that’s not going to be a barrier for them seeing their children.”

Both co-ordinators are from the Riverina and have extensive experience in the family services sector. Ms Bourke was previously a school counsellor, while Ms Madill has worked as a National Disability Insurance Service provider and in domestic violence prevention.

Their new Griffith service launched in January 2023 and since then the two women have been doing case management and intake from home and using the Country Women’s Association building for supervised visits.

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But they plan to move into a permanent office at 150 Banna Avenue, when refurbishments are complete in August.

Interrelate staff crowd holding up banner

Interrelate is a statewide not-for-profit. Photo: Facebook.

Interrelate in Griffith will be offering more than just supervising children’s contact visits.

“We also provide counselling, mediation and other programs related to building family connections and domestic violence,” Ms Bourke said.

“In Griffith, we have opened ‘I Relate health’, an online platform that is available for people who need to access mental health support. They offer psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists and people from Griffith and surrounding areas can access that support online. We’re helping to reduce some of the local waitlists that are around for psychologists.”

Anyone wanting to find out about Interrelate services can call their client experience team on 1300 473 528 or visit their website.

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