12.4 When to get help? What is my role?

Staff are different

Staff members often have diverse backgrounds, in terms of education, training, employment and personal experiences.

The roles that workers play may also vary significantly, for example, supporting the person with mental health issues, physical therapy, personal care, environmental issues, education, employment, counselling, etc. 

A staff member’s ability to address family relationship issues will depend on the type of work they do, limits to their role and the level of experience and skills that they have. If it is not within the scope of a staff member’s role to work directly with a person's family or if they do not feel they have the expertise to deal with the complexity of the presenting family issues, it is important to be aware of when there is a need to refer the family on to a service that can assist. 

Getting further assistance

It is important for staff member’s to discuss their concerns with the family and state why they think further assistance is required, beyond what they can provide.  Some examples of cases that require referral include when staff notice family members are sad for a prolonged time, withdraw from interactions, where potential for criminal procedures exists, or potential for self harm.

See risk facts on the next tab for situations where family members may be at risk, and referral to other services may be required.    Keep in mind there are different levels of support available depending of the environment the person with the injury and their family are currently in.  For example, if they are in hospital and concerns have been identified, you can refer on to the social worker or the psychologist to further assess.  This would be different if the family are in a rural community where they may not have immediate access to a health professional.  In these situations giving family members phone numbers such as Lifeline can be helpful so they can speak to someone with a bit more experience while they wait for face to face intervention.


Risk Factors

The following risk factors would be important ‘flags’ for seeking to ensure that either some expert assessment and intervention has taken place, is under way, or should be organised.

Some risk factors to keep in mind are:

  • Mental Health Concerns
    • Prolonged sadness
    • Withdrawing from interaction
    • Emotional distress
    • Unusual behaviour
  • Drug and Alcohol issues
    • Excessive intake regularly
  • Domestic Violence
    • Disclosure of physical, verbal or emotional violence
    • Need for Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO)
  • Child Protection
    • Disclosure or witnessing physical, verbal or emotional violence
    • Child witness to domestic violence
  • Aging or young carers
    • Struggling to maintain care
    • Unable to have a break
    • Inappropriate care being delivered
  • Families with dependent children
    • Unable to provide enough attention/care to children due to caring role
    • Noticeable effects on children (i.e. difficulties in school or behaviour)
  • Anger as emotional distress
    • Regular aggression
    • Unable to articulate concerns
    • Family conflict often present
    • Relationships are under stress


Starting points for support in NSW

If you believe that specialised assistance is required for the family you are working with discuss these needs with your manager, or a Social Worker or Psychologist.

Other sources of information and advice within NSW, Australia are as follows:                     

Child Protection

  • Child Protection Helpline: 133 627

Domestic Violence

  • Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463


Drug and Alcohol

  • Australian Drug Information Network: www.adin.com.au

  • Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS): 02 9361 8000 (Sydney), 1800 422 599 (Regional NSW)

Family and Relationship Counselling  

Information and Resources for Families

Legal and Consent Issues

Mental Health Needs


Village help