Supervised contact is when the time a non-residential parent spends with their child takes place in the presence of an independent person.
Supervised contact can also be requested for many other reasons where a family member or other significant person spends time with children.
The independent person could be a relative, for example, a mutual friend of the family or the child’s grandparent, or the independent person could be provided by a service provider for a fee.
The supervision can take place at changeover (when the residential parent provides the child for the contact), or for the entire visit.
In some circumstances, non-residential parents may have an extended period of time away from their child following separation for work, or due to a particularly acrimonious separation. In these circumstances, and depending on other factors such as the age of the child, and the nature of the relationship between the non-residential parent and the child, it may be beneficial for the child to have a gradual re-introduction to the non-residential parent and to slowly build up the relationship.
In other cases, the residential parent may have concerns about the non-residential parent’s relationship with the child, and may be somewhat fearful of the non-residential parent spending time alone with the child. In these circumstances, agreeing to a certain amount of supervised contact to begin with can assist in building the residential parent’s trust in the non-residential parent.
Alternatively, if the residential parent and the non-residential parent have a very high level of conflict, supervised contact can provide a changeover service where the parents do not have to see or speak to each other, thus providing a conflict free environment for the child.
In still other cases, there may historically have been issues of family violence, and supervised contact may be necessary to ensure the safety of the child, and also the safety of the residential parent, as post separation parent / child contact can provide a significant risk for post-separation violence to occur.
Finally, if there are concerns about significant levels of drug use and alcohol abuse by the non-residential parent, supervised contact allows for the non-residential parent to be assessed prior to the contact to ensure that they are able to care for the child.
Supervised contact is child focussed.
The main benefit of Supervised Contact is in providing the child with a safe and secure space for them to spend time with a non-residential parent.
The supervision means that the non-residential parent and child are free to spend time together, and allows for regular contact, in a friendly environment where the child can seek assistance if they become upset or fearful, and where the supervisor can intervene at any time should the need arise.
Where both parents agree, they can seek supervised contact with a family friend or relative, or can approach a service provider, such as Lilly Pilly.
In other cases, one parent may seek to have the contact supervised, and if the other parent disagrees, it is open for the Family Court to make an order that the contact is supervised, either for a set period of time, or on an ongoing basis.
Please be aware that while Lilly Pilly seeks to assist, it is not our role to negotiate between the parties and we ask that the initial arrangements regarding the visitation/transportation be developed and agreed upon and then provided to Lilly Pilly. Any ongoing changes to those arrangements should be managed in the same way.
PROCEDURE FOR ORGANISING SUPERVISED CONTACT WITH LILLY PILLY
1. Lilly Pilly is approached by a family or their legal representatives regarding supervision of supervised contact/transportation of the children/young people.
2. Intake forms are downloaded from the website and completed, requiring signing by the parties prior to being returned to Lilly Pilly.
3. Costing is agreed as per Lilly Pilly pricelist. Payment can be made via EFT or cash on the day.
4. Visitation/transportation details are discussed. This includes, but is not limited to, where the
children/young people reside, where the parent(s) reside– who may/may not attend the visit, any special medical/dietary/psychological needs of the children that must be observed, some family history, details about court orders, details about any restraints such as DVOs, and safety concerns involving the children and others.
5. Payment is made at least 48 hours prior to a scheduled visitation/transportation.
6. You receive confirmation of payment being received and a scheduled visit.
7. Access visit/transportation takes place at the agreed time.
PROCEDURE FOR CHANGEOVERS ON DAY OF SUPERVISED CONTACT
1. The parent to be supervised arrives at centre atleast 15 minutes before contact.
2. The primary carer arrives with child at correct agreed time, NOT before or after..
3. Supervised contact visit takes place
4. The primary carer arrives at correct agreed time upon completion of contact, NOT before or after..
5. The parent to be supervised departs centre atleast 15 minutes after contact.
Parents play a vital role in making contact visits an enjoyable and positive experience for themselves and their child, and both the parties/parents have roles and responsibilities in this regard.
The Carer Parent (the parent with whom the child resides) has the role and responsibility of preparing the child, in a positive way, in advance of the visit about travelling/being with another person (the Supervisor) and spending time with the other parent.
Lilly Pilly recognise that parents may find the presence of a contact supervisor at their visits stressful and challenging. However, the overall aim of contact supervision is to assist you and your child to have an enjoyable and positive experience.
The following information on roles and responsibilities for each of the parties is intended to identify and clarify protocols and boundaries for the parties. In providing this information, Lilly Pilly also seeks that the parties agree upon all arrangements associated with the contact visits.
A CONTACT SUPERVISOR:
1. A Contact Supervisor will be required to be present at all times during the contact visit, unless Lilly Pilly receives clear instructions to the contrary. They will seek to help you and your child have a pleasant time and facilitate a positive time for your child before and following the contact.
2. The Lilly Pilly Supervisor has responsibility to ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child/ren they are supervising, however, there is an expectation that the parent having contact with the child/ren takes responsibility for managing the child/ren’s behaviour during the visit.
3. It is important for the Contact Supervisor to be able to hear and see all that is occurring. You will not be able to take your child out of the sight or hearing of the Contact Supervisor.
4. This can be challenging for some parents, however, it is important to remember that supervisors may be required to write a report following the visit and by being in close proximity they are able to truly reflect what occurred – the positives, as well as negatives. We encourage you to view this as a positive and an opportunity for you to demonstrate your parenting and care-giving skills.
5. The Supervisor may write a report following the visit which is often filed at court by the legal representatives of the parties involved. This report is comprehensive and if you do not want information included in the report of a personal nature, it is best to not discuss this information during the contact.
6. The report will give details of (a) who attended the visit, (b) what activities and interactions took place (c) what was talked about and other information relevant to the wellbeing and welfare of the child. While supervisors seek to manage negative behaviour, any adverse events where your child showed distress, or other events such as where information was shared with your child that was inappropriate or hurtful (e.g. negatively mentioning another parent, discussing the issues to do with court or making/breaking unreasonable promises to the child/young person) will be recorded in the report. Reports are prepared with the principal consideration of the child’s safety, welfare and wellbeing.
B SUPERVISED PARENT – How to act and behave:
1. Plan to be on time for the visit, allowing for additional time to get to the centre should there be a delay while in transit. This is especially important if you are unfamiliar with a new meeting place or contact centre.
2. Plan and prepare during the visit for when the contact ends.
3. While we understand such visits can be a difficult and an emotional time, try to be as calm and positive as possible throughout contact. It has been proven that demonstrating a positive emotional state will assist and benefit the wellbeing of your child/ren, thus ensuring their visit is a positive experience.
4. Do not discuss court matters with your child/ren.
5. Do not engage the supervisor or your child/ren in negative discussions about other parties involved in your case.
6. It is your responsibility to manage your child/ren’s behaviour during the contact visit. Please try to do this in a positive way.
7. Supervision is provided to the person named in the court orders, or on the received referral form.
8. Please be aware that some foods are not nutritionally good for children and can, and often do, affect their behaviour. Please try to buy or bring food to the visit that is healthy, with low sugar levels and minimal amounts of artificial colours and flavours. It is okay to bring a special treat, but keep these to a minimum. Please understand that unhealthy and sugary foods will impact on your child’s ability to remain calm and enjoy their time with you.
9. From time to time, Contact Supervisors may give directions regarding your children. This may include: pointing out that your child/ren are engaging in dangerous activities that may result in falls/accidents; suggesting alternative methods for disciplining the child/ren; reminders to change a child’s nappy etc. You are expected to follow these reasonable directions.
10. Parents and participants at the visits and others involved in some way are not to film, photograph or record during visits if this is specified as a restriction at the time of making the referral. Supervisors are not to be photographed or filmed at any time by any parties involved.
11. Any activities planned for contact must be appropriate and allow the Supervisor to perform their role, and be an agreed-upon activity by Lilly Pilly. Lilly Pilly venues do have swimming pools and open water etc. Unless instructed otherwise, it is the Supervisors discretion whether certain activities are participated in.
12. The meeting location of the contact is confirmed prior to the contact date and advised by the referring parties. Any changes to this location must be agreed and arranged prior to the contact day and LILLY PILLY informed with appropriate notice.
13. Contact Supervisors and children being supervised at the contact visit, are NOT permitted to travel in the vehicle of the person/s being supervised, or other vehicles nominated by the person/s being supervised.
If transportation is required during a contact visit, the supervisor will transport the children and meet the person being supervised at the designated venue. The person being supervised may be allowed to travel in the front seat of the Supervisor’s car at the discretion of Lilly Pilly Management. If arranged prior to the contact, or agreed by Lilly Pilly Management, the Contact Supervisor may travel with the person being supervised on a public conveyance, such as bus, tram, ferry, train, taxicab etc.
C CONTACT VISIT GUIDELINES
It is important to present positively for the visit. Contact visits will not proceed in the following circumstances:
1. You come to the contact visit under the influence of drugs or alcohol
2. You fail to comply with the agreed arrangements
3. You are observed to be in an inappropriate emotional state, such as highly agitated, aggressive or abusive.
The following actions are not permitted during the contact and may lead to cancellation of the visit:
1. Consumption of drugs or alcohol
2. You hit or physically discipline your child
3. You threaten your child with physical punishment or violence
4. You discuss the court case with your child or the supervisor
5. You show your child you are angry or upset with the child’s other parent, extended family or the court.
6. You speak negatively about the child/ren’s other parent/family members
7. You are aggressive or abusive towards the supervisor.
If any of these happen, the Contact Supervisor will firstly warn you to correct your behaviour, and will end the contact if your behaviour continues. Make sure you listen to any directions the Supervisor may give about contact and follow them carefully. Please keep in mind the Contact Supervisor is simply seeking the best outcome for all.
D PARENT WITH WHOM THE CHILD RESIDES ~ Roles + Responsibilities:
1. In instances where supervised contact is court ordered, it is the role of the parent/s and their legal representatives to interpret and abide by court orders; it is not Lilly Pilly responsibility. Lilly Pilly expects the parents, directly or through their legal representatives, to arrive at agreed arrangements consistent with the court orders and advise Lilly Pilly. Lilly Pilly will seek at all times to maintain a position of neutrality, with a focus on the welfare and wellbeing of the child.
2. The parent with whom the child resides has responsibly for preparing the child for the visit and to ensure the child is well and positively prepared to attend and participate.
3. Lilly Pilly Supervisors are trained to assist the child during handover, however, the work in advance of the visit by the parent with whom the child resides is crucial, as they are best positioned to positively prepare the child and Lilly Pilly expects this to occur.
4. While parents with whom the child resides may sometimes feel they can dictate the terms of the visit, Lilly Pilly expects that they will arrive at an agreement with the parent with whom the child does not reside, and convey these agreed arrangements to Lilly Pilly.
5. Lilly Pilly will seek to maintain a position of neutrality, with a focus on the welfare and wellbeing of the child.
6. The primary parent is to ensure that essentials are packed for the care of children during contact. This will include water, food for a young baby such as milk etc., clothing to suit weather conditions, a hat, sunscreen etc.
7. Lilly Pilly may charge an Administration Fee (refer to price list) Lilly Pilly’s discretion if the work undertaken on behalf of your family falls outside the standard scheduling and administration obligations for arranging and facilitating contact supervision. The person requesting the excess work will be financially responsible for this fee.
Lilly Pilly understands there is often conflict for both the parties associated with Supervised Visits, however, parent/s are advised that they are not to deliberately or unintentionally seek to draw the Supervisor into the conflict. This also means that parents are not to question/interrogate Supervisors before, during or after contact visits.
The Supervisor will provide feedback about the visit to ensure that the parent with whom the child resides is adequately informed as to what the child ate, when they attended the toilet and other such information.
This feedback will be in relation to the child, and detailed feedback about the visit will be provided in the report. The feedback the Supervisor provides at the end of the visit is about equipping the parent/s to provide the best possible support to their child, and is to support an understanding of what the child has experienced. It is not designed to be used in furthering any dispute that exists between the parents.
E PROCEEDING AND INVOLVING THE OTHER PARENT/PARTY:
1. After making contact with Lilly Pilly, please ensure that the other parent/party are made aware of your intention/application to use Lilly Pilly services and ensure they are provided with the relevant documents. All relevant parties will be required to read the Lilly Pilly Information Pack and to complete and sign the Family Contact Service Agreement and Referral Form (these are included in the Pack). The referral cannot progress until Lilly Pilly receives completed documentation from both parties/parents.
2. Should you wish to include other family/friends in contact visits, please ensure the other party/parent is notified and agreeable to those people attending, and in such instances Lilly Pilly must be informed in advance of the contact visit.
3. Unless Court Orders specifically state otherwise, all intake forms, communication, emails, notes and reports shall be available for both parties at all times.
4. To limit any perceived bias by either party, information and emails received from either party may be responded to by being sent to both parties in the same email.
F QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS:
1. If you have any questions regarding the contact visit arrangements, please call the Lilly Pilly office on 07 5547 3601. The after-hours message on the office number provides other out of-hours numbers. These numbers are provided in the event of an emergency or where information needs to be passed on or requires an urgent response.
2. Note that Supervisors are not involved in arranging contacts and are not able to give you information regarding your contact visits. Any queries regarding your contact MUST be communicated directly to the Lilly Pilly Office.
3. Please direct questions of a legal nature to your lawyer or other relevant professional.
G SUSPENDING OR CEASING SERVICE PROVISION:
Lilly Pilly may decide to suspend or cease providing service. This might be considered, for example where:
1. The way the visit is proceeding is, in the view of the Supervisor often with support from a manager, too stressful or traumatic for the child.
2. Lilly Pilly determines that it cannot effectively address the safety requirements or other issues involved in the particular case.
3. The case is placing an undue demand on Lilly Pilly resources.
4. One or both of the parties have failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the service.
The decision to suspend or cease providing a service will be made known to the party/parties. Lilly Pilly personnel will provide the reasons for the decision to suspend or cease providing a service and where such issues can be resolved, Lilly Pilly would then review that decision.
Agreeing to at least some initial supervised contact is very unlikely to make the non-residential parent appear in a negative light.
Arguably, it could be perceived as the non-residential parent doing all that they can to enable them to spend time with their child, and to make every effort to ensure that their child feels safe and comfortable with the contact at all times.
Further, as either of the parties, or the Family Court, are able to request reports of the contact, the reports will be able to be provided to the Court to confirm that the time the non-residential parent spends with the child is progressing well.
In circumstances where there has been a significant period that the non-residential parent has not spent time with the child, or where a parent or child needs to build up the trust for an ongoing relationship, these reports can be useful in progressing to non-supervised contact.