WA Family Pathways Network Annual Conference took place on Thursday May 14 at Technology Park Function Centre Bentley.
230 delegates from across the sector gathered to explore the difficult topic of children and contact.
The conference was opened by the Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jenni Perkins, who highlighted the importance of this issue for all of us working with children and young people in WA.
The keynote speaker, David Mandel, provided interesting insight into the experiences of women in the family law system, and the many ways in which violence against a mother is also harmful to the child.
Catherine Boland followed with her provocative discussion of parental alienation; when a child expresses negative feelings toward a parent that are disproportionate the child’s actual experiences with the parent.
Catherine shared some fantastic insight from her experiences as a clinician.
After lunch we were joined by Principal Registrar David Monaghan who outlined some situations in which the Family Court may order that a parent have no contact with a child. Some very interesting stories were shared and it was an eye-opener to learn of some of the difficult cases handled by the Family Court of WA.
The day closed with an option of two breakout sessions. In the theatre, Sallyann Neville from Youth Focus discussed how high-conflict parental separations can affect young people.
In the main room the panel discussion consisted of representatives from the major child contact services – Anglicare, Centrecare and Relationships WA – as well as Legal Aid and the Family Court of WA. The hypothetical scenario developed as each party on the panel described their role and how they would manage a difficult contact situation.
WAFPN would like to thank everyone who attended the conference as well as our excellent speakers.