Court Support 4 Kids

Over the last six months, Court Support 4 Kids has worked with over 500 children at Sunshine and Geelong Magistrates’ Courts, with positive feedback from mothers, court staff and others highlighting that the service improved the court experience for them and their children.

 

98% of the feedback from mothers using the service said that it helped them successfully complete their court proceedings, while all court staff said the program reduced the exposure of children to family violence related trauma.

Court Support 4 Kids places a worker in magistrates’ courts to provide distractive play opportunities for children accompanying their mother to court. It is the only services of its kind in Victoria.

“We started the program to help mothers complete their intervention orders. Women often are forced to bring their children to court due to safety concerns, and lack of short term day-care,” Mary Bartlett, Head of Projects at McAuley, said.

“However, over time the program has refocused to reduce children’s exposure to further trauma and to listening to their mothers describe their experience of family violence to court staff,” she said.

Piloted in Sunshine Court, the program is now available at Geelong Magistrates’ Court and Ringwood Magistrates’ Court, in partnership with Bethany Support Services and Eastern Domestic Violence Service respectively.

Court Support 4 Kids is in line with Recommendation 70 that “all Magistrates’ Court of Victoria headquarter courts …provide adequate facilities for children and ensure that courts are ‘child-friendly’.”

McAuley is currently seeking funding to continue delivering the program in all specialist family violence courts in the state.