Southern Family Services

Being a parent is a rewarding and exciting role, but at times can also be very difficult and challenging. Children also experience the ups and downs of growing up, and often families feel as though the issues are too big for them to manage on their own.

There are also some families in our community that at times are not able to care for their children in an appropriate and safe way. This may be due to reasons such as poverty, family breakdown, drug and alcohol issues, or a multitude of other factors that impact on a family's ability to function in a safe and happy environment.

In the past, these families were often notified to child protection, however they may not have met the criteria for statutory involvement. A better way of seeing these kinds of families is on a continuum of care.

    Family Services in the outer south provides:
  • A centralised intake service (known as Child FIRST)
  • Allocation processes to provide families with the most effective service response
  • Consistent case management, case planning and assessment
  • Centre based activities and group work
  • Family and individual counselling
  • Mentoring for families and individuals
  • Brokerage for service provision or the purchase of essential materials for families
  • Working in partnership with a community based child protection worker where there are complex issues of risk assessment

The promotion of child health and well-being and the prevention and early intervention of child abuse and neglect is a community responsibility requiring partnership and collaboration. We have developed an innovative and dynamic network to assist families to deal with a variety of issues, and to increase community awareness. 

People who can access the service

The service is open to families with children (or pregnant mothers) living in the municipalities of Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong.

How the program works

We have workers that are qualified and experienced in assisting families with children aged from birth to 18 years (including pregnant mothers).

We will work with you to identify your strengths, and set realistic goals to achieve the best possible outcomes for your family situation.

Being part of a larger family services alliance which includes all family services agencies across Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong (referred to as the South East Family Services alliance) and having partnerships with other key support agencies including the South East Migrant Resource Centre and Springvale Indo-Chinese Mutual Assistance Association, we are able to work effectively with families to ensure that you receive the most appropriate service  from the right agency.

All information concerning you or your family will be treated confidentially, and only shared with other professionals with your written permission. However in situations where we believe children may be at significant risk, we have a professional duty to contact the Department of Human Services.

How clients can benefit from the service

We understand that not all families are the same, and that sometimes families experience a "one off" difficulty, or face a few troubles at the same time. For this reason, there are a number of ways that workers within the program may approach your individual circumstances or needs.

    Some of the things you can expect from the service and the benefits it provides include:
  • A family worker providing support within your home 
  • An invitation to join one of our support groups for parents, women, men and young people. 
  • Mentoring or volunteer support for your family or your children 
  • Participation in activities to build on your parenting skills 
  • Joining in activities including skilling up for work and volunteer opportunities 
  • Access to brokerage funds to assist with family functioning 

How this service benefits the community

    Family Services benefits the community by:
  • Providing an improved family support capacity for vulnerable families including a preventative and early intervention approach
  • Assisting to reduce the rate of notifications and renotifications to child protection by diverting a significant number of families currently notified to child protection to community based services
  • Minimising the progression of families into the child protection system

Group Work

    Family Services runs a number of groups across the local government areas of Cardinia, Casey and Greater Dandenong that focus on issues such as:
  • Parenting
  • Family Violence
  • Grief and loss
  • Attachment and bonding
  • Self-esteem and personal development

For more information about the Group Work programs on offer, click here.


Where >>

We operate from a number of sites across the sub-region of Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong. With approximately 50 staff, offices are located at Narre Warren (intake), Cranbourne, Dandenong and Pakenham.

Contact >>

We accept referrals from a variety of sources including schools; community agencies; health services; child protection; family and friends. Individuals can also make a self-referral into the program.

Please phone our Child FIRST team based at Narre Warren on 03 9705 3939.