Professional support for children and families can be found in your community and can range from your local doctor to specialist services. See the links below for more information:
Services that work with children and families
Anywhere Healthcare is a specialist practice with a flexible option for people living in regional or remote areas who cannot easily visit a specialist. This means busy people or those who find it difficult to travel can reduce the cost of travel and waiting time associated with seeing a specialist, empowering regional and remote communities to gain rapid access to specialist care. Medicare rebates apply to most services as well as a copayment.
Patients across Australia see an Anywhere Healthcare specialist from their GP’s rooms using secure videoconferencing. A GP referral is required and you should talk to your GP about whether an Anywhere Healthcare consultation is right for you. Some patients may be able to have consultations from home or other health service centres.
Specialty areas for children and families include Dermatology, Endocrinology, General paediatrics, General medicine, Haematology, Immunology and Allergy, Neonatal/Perinatal medicine, Medical Oncology, Paediatrics and child health, Palliative medicine, Psychiatry and Perinatal Psychiatry.
Phone bookings can be made through a centralised practice management team. Call ph1800 822 940 or send a facsimile (03) 8686 1004 (referrals).
An ALLIED HEALTH CARE ONLINE service is also being established. If your community would like to discuss ways of accessing allied health care service via telehealth please contact Anywhere Healthcare on 1800 822940.
Australian Childhood Foundation
The Australian Childhood Foundation is a national organisation aimed at protecting children and preventing abuse and violence and have a range of useful resources for families available in multiple languages. They offer services nationwide for child trauma, parenting support, carer support and professional education.
The Anglicare Australia network comprises 45 affiliated agencies Australia-wide providing a range of services including family support and relationship counselling. State-based organisations across Australia with links to Anglicare can be found on the Anglicare website.
The Better Access initiative is an Australian Government initiative that aims to improve outcomes for people with mental health disorders by providing Medicare rebates through the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS). Rebates are available for assessment, therapy and focussed psychological strategies provided by appropriately qualified psychologists, GPs, social workers and occupational therapists. Higher rebates are available for services from clinical psychologists. Individuals can access up to ten individual and ten group allied mental health services per calendar year and need a referral and Mental Health Treatment Plan from a GP or psychiatrist. If you would like to access these services the best first step is to discuss your needs with your GP. Note that some practitioners charge fees that are higher than the Medicare rebate and so there may be some out-of-pocket costs involved. For more information on Better Access for patients, visit the Department of Health website.
Child and Adolescent Area Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
CAMHS provides specialist child and adolescent mental health services for children and adolescents (up to 18 years) with serious emotional disturbance (including young people with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder that is detrimental to their growth or development and/or where there are substantial difficulties in the person’s social or family environment). CAMHS is managed at a state and territory level by different organisations:
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
CatholicCare (Formerly Centacare Catholic Family Services)
CatholicCare offers professionally delivered programs and services to the community in response to the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, particularly children. They employ specialists in the areas of psychology, social work, counselling, mediation, conciliation and education. Through CatholicCare's website, you can access services in your state or territory.
Family Mental Health Support Service (FMHSS)
A FMHSS provides support to vulnerable families with children and young people (up to 18 years) at risk of, or affected by a mental illness, with a focus on Indigenous families and those from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.
A parent can self-refer and friends, family or a school or ECEC services can refer on their behalf. FMHSS provide 3 levels of support:
Intensive, long-term, early intervention support for children, young people and their families
Short-term immediate assistance and information for families
Community outreach, mental health promotion, education and community development activities
For more information and contact details for FMHSS in your area, visit the Family Mental Health Support Service website.
Family Relationships Online
Family Relationships Online provides all families (whether together or separated) with access to information about family relationship issues, ranging from building better relationships to dispute resolution. It also allows families to find out about a range of services (online and in-person) that can assist them to manage relationship issues, including agreeing on appropriate arrangements for children after parents have separated. Visit Family Relationships Online's website for more information.
Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA)
FRSA is the national peak body for family relationship and support services. They support community-based services that work with families, children and communities. They also draw on the expertise of service providers in order to understand the changing needs of families accessing services and to inform public policy.
The Lifeline website has a Lifeline Service Finder which is a thorough directory of free or low cost services available throughout Australia. Teachers, early education staff and families can use it to find services in their local area.
If families approach early childhood educators and school staff with concerns about their children, a good first step is to encourage them to visit their local General Practitioner (GP) to discuss their concerns. Early assistance for children and families leads to better outcomes for children’s mental health and wellbeing. To find a GP in your area, visit the HealthEngine website. Families can ask their GP if there are Medicare or other rebates for specialist services that they can access.
The MindSpot Clinic is a free service for Australians with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. They provide mental health screening assessments, treatment courses or help people find local services that can help. More information is available on the MindSpot website.
National Health Services Directory
The National Health Services Directory (NHSD) provides you with an easy way to find health services information at no cost. NHSD will enable you to search for the contact details and location of general practices (GPs), pharmacies, hospitals and emergency departments from wherever you are in Australia. Information provided will include: service types and location; opening hours; languages spoken; access to bulk billing and supported types of communication. The directory provides access to reliable information, and will assist you to choose and connect with the most appropriate health services for your current needs.
Parenting Research Centre
The Parenting Research Centre is dedicated to developing resources, programs and policies based on scientific evidence to support parents. They stress the importance of effective parenting and raising socially and emotionally adjusted children. More information is available on the Parenting Research Website.
Raising Children Network
Raising Children Network is a national website aimed at helping families care for their children by linking them with the services available in their local communities. The my neighbourhood area of their website allows parents and professionals to search a range of services in their local area including activities, libraries, community health services, government services, early childhood education and care services (ECECs) and schools, family support services and general and specialist health services.
Relationships Australia provides relationship support services for individuals, families and communities (including face-to-face and telephone counselling, family dispute resolution, family violence prevention services, children’s contact services and problem gambling counselling) with service centres across Australia. Families and professionals can visit the Relationships Australia website to find out more about service locations, services provided and contact details. Contact 1300 364 277 to find out about the services available or to make a referral.
Royal Far West
Royal Far West is a charitable NGO that delivers a comprehensive range of health services to children, families and communities in rural and remote areas. Information about their services and referral pathways can be found on their webiste. For more information, call them on 1800 500 061. Services include:
- speech pathology
- developmental paediatrics
- child and adolescent psychiatry
- occupational therapy
- social work
- orthoptics and dental services
Royal Far West's services are provided for children from rural, regional and remote NSW who cannot otherwise access these services. To be eligible to access Royal Far West services children must:
- be 0-12 years of age
- live in country NSW (north of Taree, south of Nowra, west of the Great Divide)
- reside in an area where you do not have access to health services
- fulfil any relevant clinical criteria
To access Royal Far West’s services children will need a referral from their local doctor or paediatrician if they have one. A referral form and further information is available from the website.
Children and their families who come to Royal Far West for assessment and treatment are able stay in their comfortable accommodation at Drummond House located in Manly. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is no charge for patients but there is an accommodation and meal charge for non-patients.
For more information contact Royal Far West email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by free call: 1800 500 061 or 02 8966 8500
Uniting Care Australia
The Uniting Care network is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia with more than 1,300 social services sites nationally. They provide a range of services for children, youth and families such as mental health programs, indigenous services and many more. The Uniting Care website contains information about all of the UnitingCare services across Australia.
Youth.gov.au's website is the Australian Government’s central hub for information on services and programs for young people.
Professionals who work with children and families
Audiologists provide hearing assessments to infants and children. Families and professionals can visit the Audiology Society of Australia website to find an audiologist in their local area.
A counsellor is a person who has been professionally trained to talk people through a variety of problems. Issues that a person might discuss with a counsellor include:
building up confidence
family and relationship issues
troubles with alcohol or drugs
If necessary, a counsellor might refer a person to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can help you with your specific problems. You can find a counsellor using the healthdirect search engine.
Mental health nurses
Mental health nursing is a specialised branch of nursing with a focus on the care of people with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders and psychosis. You can find a mental health nurse on the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses website.
Paediatric occupational therapists specialise in sensory processing, gross and fine motor development, and developmental skills such as self-care. Common diagnostic groups paediatric occupational therapists work with include children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, autism, and those whose ability to participate in play and daily activities is interrupted by an injury or disease process.
Mental Health occupational therapists provide assessment and therapy to support children, adults and families who may be experiencing social or emotional distress, or mental illness.
Occupational therapists can be found through the Occupational Therapy Australia website.
Paediatric physiotherapists are movement specialists for babies, children and adolescents who aim to improve a child's movement abilities through a range of interventions and programs including movement training, exercise, motor learning, play and education. Paediatric physiotherapy has a large focus on neurology and child development. Parents can visit the Australian Physiotherapy Association website to find a physiotherapist in their local area.
Paediatricians focus on the medical problems and development of children. Parents can arrange for a paediatric referral for their child through their GP if they are seeking expert medical advice. They should ask the paediatrician if there are Medicare or other rebates for specialist services they can access. You can find pediatricians across Australia through the HealthEngine website or for people living in regional or remote areas who cannot easily access a specialist visit the Anywhere Healthcare website.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health problems. They are able to treat illnesses such as depression, severe anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with both talking therapies and medication, if necessary. To see a psychiatrist, a referral from a GP is required. You can find a GP through the HealthEngine website. Psychiatrists work in hospitals, community mental health services or in private practice. You can find a psychiatrist through the HealthEngine website.
Psychologists are trained in understanding human behaviour and provide a wide range of evidence-based psychological services to individuals, couples and families of all ages, including children. Psychologists provide services for mental health conditions experienced by children and adults that range from mild to more severe and complex, as well as for managing and improving family relationships and parenting and child social, emotional and behavioural problems. Psychologists can also assist with other issues such as grief and loss, significant life transitions, family conflict or violence, trauma, maintaining healthy lifestyles, vocational assessment and career development. You can search for a psychologist by searching the Australian Psychological Society website contains a directory with access to over 2,400 psychologists Australia-wide. Psychologists listed on this website are in private practice and provide services for a fee – there may be Medicare rebates for services available (see Better Access).
Social workers work with individuals, families, groups and communities in the context of their physical, social and cultural environments; their past and current lived experiences, and their cultural and belief systems.The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is the professional representative body of social workers in Australia. The AASW website has an advanced search directory of social workers containing information about AASW members who have chosen to make their details available to the public. It does not list all AASW members. Social workers can be searched by name, location and services offered.
Speech pathologists assist with communication, language, feeding and swallowing difficulties. Parents can visit the Speech Pathology Australia website to find a speech pathologist in their area.
Optometrists assess infants' and young children's vision. Parents and professionals can visit the Optometrists Association of Australia website to find an optometrist in their local area.