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A first visit with mum and help with an unexpected change: Supported visits

Support during visits by children with their parent in custody can make all the difference.

By providing emotional support, practical guidance, and children’s activities, visits are child-focused and a positive experience for everyone involved. They are less daunting for families, helping them to stay connected.

Our Child & Family Centre on site at the correctional centre complex at Silverwater is always a popular place for families to drop by. Our team in their purple T-shirts is a welcome sight on weekends, providing support before, during, and after visits.

A first visit with mum

When 13-year-old Ebony* recently had her first visit with her mum, Sienna*, who has been in custody since the beginning of the year, our team was by her side from the minute she arrived.

The process of entering a centre can be intimidating, and Ebony had also brought some family photos she wanted to give her mum so that she’d have something with her while they were apart. Our team helped Ebony throughout the process of approving the photos and entering the visit area, calmly explaining how things worked and what to expect.

First visits are often very emotional for everyone involved, so our team made sure that Ebony and Sienna were supported throughout. Sienna mentioned that Saturday mornings used to be relaxing at home and doing the weekly shop with the kids, showing just how tough this early stage can be as families adjust to a big change in their lives.

Support when you really need it

Visits are also a chance to check in with families and see how they’re doing.

Maddy* visits her mum in custody every weekend with her grandfather, and our team noticed that recently, she seemed to be struggling. After speaking with Maddy’s grandfather, our team learnt that she was having a hard time at school.

Her mother’s arrest had been featured in the news, and Maddy was experiencing stigma and wasn’t sure where to turn.

Our team gently encouraged her to reach out for specialised support if she felt she needed it and passed on information about kids’ helplines and other services available. The next time they chatted, our team was happy to hear that Maddy was getting the specialised support she needed and told Maddy that we’ll continue to be here to walk by her side during this difficult time in her young life.

A change of outfit 

During a recent visit, 3-year-old Jake* became very upset when his father came into the area in a different outfit than usual. Moments like this remind us that children love and seek out routine and familiarity, especially those who have experienced separation from a parent. Having a friendly, calm face on hand to help with these unexpected moments can be vital for children’s well-being during visits.

Our team, seeing Jake’s visible distress, stepped in and helped to explain that his dad was wearing his work outfit and that sometimes he’d come straight to a visit from his painting job at the centre, and so wouldn’t be wearing his usual outfit.

To help Jake process this change, our team brought over some colouring pencils and together Jake and his dad drew pictures of the different outfits he might wear. They also drew a lovely picture of their family together for Jake to take home.

A safe, child-friendly space

During visits, our team always sets up a child-friendly space where children can relax and play while the adults talk. It’s also a chance for our team to connect with the children and make sure they feel comfortable around us so that if they need to ask for help, they feel they can.

One of our long-term volunteers has made sure that she’s always available in this special play area when six-year-old Conner* visits with his dad, as the adults in his family often have lots to discuss. Conner loves to chat with her and teach her words in Arabic, which he speaks at home. Knowing that there’ll be someone familiar in the area, equipped with lots of fun games and activities and who can focus just on him helps Conner feel secure visiting.

*Names and images changed to protect participant identities. 

Please donate today and support children during a difficult time in their lives. Every bit counts. 

A first visit with mum and help with an unexpected change: Supported visits

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