Background to Family Help Trust services

What the Trust offers

Families are provided with a professional, experienced Social Worker who visits the family at home and:

    • Works with the primary parent and their partner to help them recognise and develop their strengths.
    • Provides information, advice and support on the care, development, safety and protection of babies and young children and ensure regular access to appropriate medical support.
    • Provides encouragement, assistance and support during the ante-natal period.
    • Challenges behaviour that threatens the children's physical and emotional well being, including an unborn child.
    • Targets high-risk problem areas such as offending, substance abuse and other anti-social activities that impair their parenting and impact on the family and society.
    • Helps with family with decision making and problem solving.
    • Assists with access to other appropriate counselling or community services and courses.

The service is governed by a Board of Trustees who represent a variety of professional disciplines. These include early childhood and tertiary education, police, journalism, law, corporate business, health and social work.

To ensure quality of service, the caseworkers have only a limited number of families at a time - usually between 15 and 18. Services can be available until the enrolled child enters the primary school system.

Service Goals

    • Increase ante-natal attendance, maternal ante-natal and foetal health
    • Improve child health and preventative medicine (immunisation etc)
    • Assist families to access additional services for babies with special medical needs
    • Improve early childhood education usage
    • Improve parenting skills
    • Reduce child neglect and abuse
    • Reduce parental offending
    • Reduce violence and substance abuse
    • Improve parental social skills
    • Improve home management and budgeting skills
    • Improve family self-reliance
    • Reduce use of emergency and social services (women's refuge, police etc)

The bottom line

Overseas studies (and our own data) indicate that early, family-based intervention is one of the most successful and cost-effective opportunities to lower the crime rate. A 1992 Michigan study estimated that intervention is up to 19 times less costly than non-intervention.

Providing the Family Help Trust intensive service to one family for one year costs $6,000. Compare this with:

    • Care for one abused and injured child at an average of $8,400 for every admission to hospital
    • Care for one troubled youth, in residential care, of $80,000 per annum
    • Housing one offender in our prison system at $30,000-$70,000 per annum
    • Female offenders cost $90,000 per year per prison cell
    • And in 1995 alone, a domestic violence cost to the country of 1.2 billion dollars

Informed Consent

Client consent is obtained at several stages, and includes the orginal referral, gaining information from other professionals, and gaining accwess to client homes.


Clients are advised through an information sheet that the agency has a complaints process, and are given assistance if they require it. Any complaint by a client or another professional is taken seriously by the agency and thoroughly investigated.

Evaluation and Effectiveness

Considerable attention is paid to the continual development of quality control mechanisms in order to provide evidence of service efficacy. Social work competence and client safety is constantly monitored by on-site professional clinical supervision.