The accessibility of Children’s Contact Services in the Parkes electorate could be boosted, with the Coalition Government providing $40.7 million for 20 new services to fill geographical gaps in operation.
Children’s Contact Services provide a child-focused and safe environment for supervised contact and facilitated changeovers for families across Australia who are unable to safely manage contact arrangements for their children.
This provides children of separating or separated parents the chance to maintain or re-establish a relationship with both parents and other significant persons in their lives.
Following community consultations, funding is being allocated to regions with the greatest estimated demand for the new services, based on factors such as proximity to the nearest service, target population and socio-economic disadvantage.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is pleased to see the Far West and Orana and the New England and North West regions included on the eligibility list for funding to establish a new service.
“Children’s Contact Services provide a safe and neutral environment for children to maintain a relationship with both of their parents during a supervised visit,” Mr Coulton said.
“Many families in my electorate do not have access to a Children’s Contact Service in their town, and you can’t expect families, especially those that are experiencing conflict or highly stressful situations, to travel large distances for a visit with their child. This is why it’s so important that more centres are established, to fill those gaps in the bush.”
Mr Coulton said he was particularly excited to see the Far West and Orana region added to this list, after working with members of the Broken Hill community to ensure the Far West was identified as an area of need.
“The Broken Hill community and the Far West has been calling for a Children’s Contact Service to be established for some time,” Mr Coulton said.
“Currently, families have to travel to Mildura or Dubbo for a supervised visit, which is just unrealistic. A centre in Broken Hill will make a huge difference for families across the Far West.
“I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of Broken Hill resident and former family law solicitor Julua Hamel who has been key to driving community support to change the initial location selection criteria. Without Ms Hamel’s push, we may not have been successful in getting the Far West added to the list.
“This is a great outcome for Broken Hill and its surrounding communities, and I am hopeful that a Children’s Contact Service will soon come to fruition in the area.”
The Attorney-General said interested providers in the eligible regions can apply for us to $2.035 million to establish a new Children’s Contact Service.
“Navigating relationship breakdown and separation can be stressful for families, particularly where complex or difficult parenting arrangements exist,” the Attorney-General said.
“Children’s Contact Centres play a critical role in Australia’s family law system, by ensuring that families can access safe, child-centred support to allow children to stay connected with both parents.
“Establishing 20 new services will ensure that more Australians are able to utilise these vital services.”
This investment builds on the $68.8 million provided in the 2021-22 Budget to enhance the existing Children’s Contact Services operating in 64 locations around Australia.
Applications for funding to deliver a Children’s Contact Service are now open. More information can be found on the Community Grants Hub’s website.