SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- There are a range of services a parent/carer can contact if concerned about issues to do with parenting or children.
- The Orange Door is the entry point for Family Services for when these problems are affecting the wellbeing of children.
- Child Protection should be contacted when there is a concern that a child needs protection.
Looking after children can be hard work. For some families, it is made even harder by other problems, including lack of money, poor housing, not having support of family and friends, being in a violent relationship, being affected by an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling, or having a disability or mental health issue.
Parents/carers have a responsibility to protect their children from abuse and neglect. The community and the government have a responsibility to help parents/carers to work through problems they might have. There are a range of services to help families with children who need support.
If you, as a parent/carer, believe you need help to keep your children safe from harm and to make sure they are able to grow and develop well, it is important you find some help. This help might come from your partner, your family or friends, or from services in the community.
If you know a family that you think needs such help, it is important that you talk to them.
Parenting services can help
There are many places you can go for advice on what to do. You might start by talking to someone who is already known to you or your family. These people could include:
- your , if you have a young child
- your child’s teacher or childcare worker
- your or community health centre
- your local .
Sometimes, these services will be able to help you themselves or they may refer you to someone else who can help.
Integrated Family Services
Often families experiencing complex or significant difficulties are referred to Family Services. These are services funded by the Victorian Government but provided by local community-based organisations. They promote the safety, stability and development of vulnerable children (including before they are born) and young people up to the age of 17 years.
Family Services aim to reduce the personal and social pressure on parents and help them provide better care for their children. They are staffed by people experienced in helping people improve their parenting skills and family relationships.
Once a referral has been accepted by Family Services, it can only offer to work with families with their permission. Parents can decide whether or not to use the service and when it finishes.
Family Services will assist families when there are significant parenting or wellbeing concerns for children. They will do this by:
- identifying and reducing the
- offering family support and someone to talk to
- providing advice and new ideas on looking after children
- referring parents to groups
- helping form links in the local community
- helping with referrals to specialists like health services or for specific problems.
The Orange Door
is the new access point for families who need assistance with the care and wellbeing of children, including those experiencing family violence, to contact the services they need to be safe and supported. The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people.
You don't need a referral, you can seek help or support if you are a migrant or a refugee or do not have permanent residency.
There are multiple ways to access help and support from The Orange Door, including face-to-face, and via phone or email. More information can be found on their .
To report concerns that are life threatening, you should contact Victoria Police: 000
Family Services is not the same as Child Protection
Family Services is not the same as . Family Services are provided by community organisations to help parents be more in control of their lives and be better parents.
Family Services have a responsibility to work with families to help prevent problems from getting worse, and possibly prevent involvement with Child Protection. However, they also have an obligation to ensure the safety and protection of children. This may involve the need to consult with Child Protection and, if necessary, to make a report to Child Protection.
Child Protection has a different responsibility. It is a Victorian Government service that is required by law to:
- receive reports from people who believe a child is in need of protection
- provide advice to people who report cases of child abuse or neglect
- investigate a report that a child is in need of protection
- refer children and families to services in the community for ongoing support and harm prevention
- present matters before the children's court if the child's safety within the family cannot be guaranteed
- supervise children subject to legal orders granted by the children’s court.
Sometimes, Child Protection and Family Services will work together with a family to decide what should be done in a particular situation. In these situations, you will be kept informed of the decisions made and the reasons for these decisions. If you are already involved with Child Protection and want more support, speak to your allocated Child Protection worker.
If you have concerns that a child is at risk of harm, contact your local Child Protection office or after hours service.