A new family referral service has been inundated with requests for help, with housing problems and parenting concerns the most common issues for Illawarra families.
The Illawarra Family Referral Service (IFRS) has received almost 200 a month referrals since it was established last September in response to the 2008 report from the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW.
The report found families experiencing difficulties and those who could help them, including teachers, nurses, counsellors, psychologists, community workers and police should be better assisted in linking with local services.
IFRS program manager Kerry Wilcock said the service often received close to 200 referrals a month across Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.
About a third of all referrals to the service over the past year have come from the Shoalhaven.
“It’s clear that there is a huge need for this kind of service in our area,” Ms Wilcock said.
“That we are getting such a strong response to the service is very encouraging because it shows that many people are now willing to call our 1800 number and admit that they are struggling in one way or another, rather than suffering in silence.
‘‘Seeking help can be a scary and confusing thing, and for many people who are going through a rough patch it can seem like too much,’’ she said.
Families are provided with telephone and face-to-face help and referred to services such as childcare, housing, parenting education, drug and alcohol or mental health services, youth support and respite care.
Call 1800 663 863 between 8am-6pm weekdays or email firstname.lastname@example.org.