"We work closely with

families to enhance their

safety at a particular time

and engage them in the process of change."




Creating a safe environment where families with children can thrive is paramount for YFS’ Intensive Family Support Program Manager, Melissa.


Melissa has been leading the Intensive Family Support program for two years now. She explains the service aims to increase safety and decrease risk for the family and the children. “Safety is about increasing parents' and children’s sense of belonging, their sense of self in knowing that they have a safe place. It’s also about identifying what concerns a family has and what we can do to address those concerns. Safety is a big part of their hierarchy of needs.”


When working with families Melissa models how they can incorporate safety into their lives and encourages them to see what their lives would look like once it is in place. “An initial assessment helps us identify if the family is at medium or high risk and the possibility of that risk happening again. We also have safety assessments which identify harm indicators. If we’re unable to put a safety plan in place we need to make a report to Child Safety.”


Melissa says it all comes down to listening to what’s going on for the family in order to be able to create that environment where collaboration and trust can also increase. She describes Tina’s* case as a clear example of the work we do on a daily basis.


Queensland Health referred Tina* to YFS over a year ago. She was going through domestic violence and struggling with mental health issues. Following a family court order she was living with her four children at her parents' house. Tina* and her children all lived in one bedroom. Two domestic violence perpetrators had been identified. Only one was still on the scene. He was the father of the youngest child and he was still financially and emotionally abusing her. Tina* knew there was domestic violence happening but she didn’t know what her options could be and wasn’t aware of the impact on

her children.


YFS supported Tina* by creating a plan and setting some goals, including introducing routines for her children, organising her household, taking care of her mental health and increasing her safety. Along her journey Tina* became very clear about her options and her boundaries, the supports she wanted to use and what she wanted in her family court orders. With YFS’ help Tina* re-established the family court order so that contact with her former partner would be supervised, her mother would act as a safety person and living with her parents was no longer a condition. She also applied for a protection order in which her three older children were actually included. Tina* worked with the Intensive Family Support program for 13 months. After that, she joined YFS’ Step by Step program where she attended counselling and she re-engages if she feels she needs to.


Through YFS, Tina* received legal advice and advocacy and gained money management skills. Today she feels safe for the first time in a while and she lives with her children in her own home. Melissa says the Intensive Family Support service

provides different solutions or responses for every person considering their circumstances could be different.


“Safety always comes first. We can’t do any work with families unless we have safety in place. All of the other work that we do can’t be achieved until that happens. Safety plans can be done around domestic violence, substance misuse and abuse and neglect. We work closely with families to enhance their safety at a particular time and engage them in the process of change. We can extend our work up to 14 months depending on where the family is and the risks involved. It may take a while for significant change to happen within a family but it definitely happens.”


*Name changed for privacy


YFS is funded by the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.

YFS acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are Australia's First

Peoples and the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and work.


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