North Coast

Fiona Halligan

During Child Protection Week remember children value time and love above money 

The not-for-profit organisation Social Futures is reminding parents during Child Protection Week (September 3 to 9) that they can still give their children their time and love – even though cost of living pressures may have cut into family leisure spending. 

Social Futures’ Manager of the Family Connect and Support Program, Fiona Halligan, said her message for Child Protection Week was that strong family relationships are based on spending quality time together, being truly present with children and developing trust. 

“Parents might be feeling guilty because they don’t have the money to buy children all they want but children don’t need endless gifts, holidays or expensive afterschool activities,” Ms Halligan said. 

“Research shows that children learn and develop best when they have strong, loving relationships with parents and the other carers in their life. 

“It’s these key relationships that help children understand the world – it’s important that they have a safe and secure home, know they are loved, and that their parents and care givers react consistently and rationally to their behaviour. 

“Spending time with your children can be so much fun, especially when you are doing things like board games, cooking and art and craft.” 

Ms Halligan says every family faces challenges and the official key themes of Child Protection Week 2023 are ‘Where we start matters’ and ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go’. 

“It’s vital that children and their families get the support they need when facing hard times, and that the support makes a real difference to their life outcomes,” she said. 

Ms Halligan manages Social Futures’ Family Connect and Support Program that works with families facing challenges such as: parenting difficulties, financial hardship, substance use, family breakdown, housing stress, mental health issues and domestic violence. 

“Our workers talk to families and identify what they need to make positive change. We also provide information and advice and connect families to other support services in the region.” 

Ms Halligan said during Child Protection Week it was also necessary to remember that communities and neighbourhoods need to be properly resourced, so children grow up in positive environments. 

“Social Futures delivers a range of programs for people facing housing, mental health and other challenges and we also advocate constantly for more social and affordable housing in the Northern Rivers,” she said. 

“During Child Protection Week let’s all have a think about how ‘where we start matters’ for children, young people, families and the broader community. 

“And of course, where we start in life isn’t where we will finish.” 

Anyone can contact the Family Connect and Support program – it is a free and voluntary program. You can click here to fill out an FCS Referral Formand return to us at fcs@socialfutures.org.au