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Support for struggling families

Abbey Maffescioni  |  09 August 2019

When your family has gone through a rough patch and find that they are in need of support, where do you get support from? Many families that struggle find it hard to find support within their community. However, there are services dedicated to helping families through rough times. One of these agencies is Catholic Care.

I spoke with Sharon Collier, Catholic Care’s Manager of Relationship Services in Barwon, Geelong, who answered some questions for me about the kind of services the organisation provides.

Q. What kind of work does Catholic Care do?

In terms of supporting families, we have a counselling service, so we offer counselling to individuals to couples and parents and also children. We also offer a marriage education program for those that are going to get married, usually in the Catholic Church.

We also have a family dispute resolution service which supports families who have separated to come together to talk about how they are going to parent now that they are separated and really home in on what the children need, and all children have different needs.

We also offer mediation services around properties so when couples separate they can come in and talk to one of our mediators about how they are going to share their resources. These services are not only offered to those who are married but also to those who have been in a serious relationship living together and sharing properties.

Q. What kind of stigma is there around struggling families getting help?

I think it takes courage sometimes to recognise that you might need help. Some find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that they can’t deal with their problems on their own, and then to step into a space where you ask for help can be difficult.

Financial constraints can cause people to turn away help thinking they can’t afford it, but one of the great things about our services is that the cost is not as high as private services. We charge our fees in response to what people earn, but we won’t turn people away if they don’t have the capacity to pay. And also finding the right counsellor to put you in a space where you can be open.

Q. What would you say are the main reasons families seek help?

I think it’s when life gets tricky or too hard or things just don’t seem to be going the way they want them to. From a parental perspective, if their kids are struggling with things that they can’t quite have the skills to support them. Sometimes it’s a referral from a school or a professional.

Q. What would you like people to know about counselling services for families?

I would like them to know that we as a Catholic agency are really here to support and help them to be the best they can be. We are non-judgmental. We are very inclusive. We really support people where they’re at. We can work collaboratively if they have engagements with other professionals and it’s a really great way to enhance the strength they already have. And we’re not just a service that is offered to Catholics. We offer support to anyone in a community.

Contact your local Catholic Care or Centacare office to find out about services in your diocese.

Abbey Maffescioni, of St Ignatius College, Geelong was one of the guest student editors of the 2019 Australian Catholics Spring edition. 


Topic tags: socialjustice-australia, volunteeringandtakingaction, familylife, responsiblerelationships

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