Last Friday Ron Briggs attended the City of Whittlesea 2016 Reconciliation Dinner and Awards accompanied by CPS Reconciliation Action Plan Committee members Carol Rosentreter and Dr Dave Vicary. Ron went home accompanied by the ‘Uncle Reg Blow Award’, the highest award from the night recognising a champion in the community who has led the way in reconciliation, with a vision of bringing people of all cultural groups together. We congratulate Ron for his tireless work, not only with us but also across other agencies including VAHS, Access Services for Kooris, Bubup Willam, ARBIAS and Odyssey House, where he serves on their boards. In a big year for Ron, highlights included helping us obtain approval for our first Reconciliation Action Plan and driving the first Aboriginal Men’s Forum last September. All the while Ron continued to promote the importance of fathers within his community, creating safe and trusting pathways for mums and dads where children are concerned. (Photo: James Henry)Read the story
As published by News.com, 6 June 2016 By Emma Reynolds THE day Sam* lost his two daughters came when he tore his house apart in a rage, ripping out cupboards and shattering the window as he threw the TV through it. He had just discovered his partner Rachel* was messaging his friend for ice and sex. When he met her the next day to take her to hospital for drug psychosis, she grabbed his arm from behind and ripped out the stitches from where he had cut his arm on the window. “I backhanded her in the mouth,” he said. “At that point our children were three and one and-a-half. That was the turning point.” The kids went to live with their grandparents and Sam, now 31, did something he never thought he would have to do: he reported himself to the authorities. Melbourne couple Sam and Rachel already had their fair share of problems. There had been times he had pushed his 26-year-old partner around or punched the wall, and the time she jumped on his back and he threw her off. “I’ve never been, or classed myself, as a stereotypical woman beater. But when you’re an 80 or 90 kilo man pushing around a 50 or 60 kilo woman, it’s not right.” Sam, who struggled with anger after a rough upbringing, might have carried on in that forever if hard drugs hadn’t entered his life. “We used to smoke cannabis and I used to drink regularly but the thing that tipped everything over was the meth.” After their daughters were born, Rachel began to use ice. “She seemed sick of the mundanity of life,” said Sam. He was concerned, but had a history with speed, another amphetamine, and began joining in on occasion. The parents were becoming more distant from their children. The family had always loved getting out and about, but now “the kids were sitting in front of the TV for something to do.” While he was out at his job in customer services, Rachel would invite friends over to get high. He told her it had to stop, and believed it had. Then came the fateful weekend when he saw her message his friend. Sam and his partner Rachel went on a downward spiral after they started using meth. “I more or less went downhill after that,” he said. “I started using heroin and found it hard to concentrate at work, so I started using ice more frequently.” Sam lost his job and ended up selling ice and used cars to get by. When he visited his kids, they’d ask, “when are we coming home?” He told them he was temporarily living in a rental apartment with no space. “I wasn’t progressing anywhere,” he said. “I’d be sitting at home with all those things on my mind. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my own skin.” When he self-reported to the Department of Health Services, he told them everything, and was put into a program called ReGen to help him get sober through rehab and counselling. “I told them everything,” he said. “Even some things about my past, things that happened, my upbringing. They were happy I was honest.” After several attempts, he’s quit ice, cannabis and alcohol, has a new jobs in sales and purchasing and is on the verge of getting his now three and five-year-old daughters back. He’s moved to a different suburb, and has a new partner, who he’s more open with about his emotions. “I definitely regret the way I handled things,” he said. “When your mind’s racing, you don’t really think about things. I let things get to the point where I explode. “I can’t blame it on one thing. There’s no one reason a person does certain things.” For Victoria’s Children’s Protection Society, Sam’s was one of the stories that showed the need for a program that encompasses substance abuse and family violence. ReGen and the CPS have been granted $575,000 to launch trials of the groundbreaking “Caring Dads” and “Mothers in Mind” programs, which will help Australian men in a holistic way. It has been successful in the US, Canada and UK, working with fathers to understand the impact of trauma on their children and how to be more respectful to their children’s mothers, and could be rolled out nationally if it works here. “The focus is around men’s relationship with their children and taking responsibility,” David Vicary, executive director of operations at CPS, told news.com.au. “It incorporates services that are already there, trying to create a web and take a child-centred approach.” Fifty to 70 per cent of those who visit ReGen for substance abuse issues have experienced family violence, according to Dr Vicary. Fifty to 90 per cent of women who access mental health services and 41 per cent of child referrals have experienced it too. He said many fathers don’t accept the impact their behaviour has on their kids, claiming the child is unaware of the violence because it happens elsewhere. “We’re expecting references from alcohol, drug, mental health and homelessness organisations,” added Dr Vicary. As for Sam and his children: “We’re going to court in a month and we’ll start transitioning them back into my care. “That’s the most important I can think of right now.” * Names have been changedRead the story
Three children, family violence, a marriage breakdown and an abusive and controlling ex-husband…
This is a first hand account of how CPS helped a mum navigate a turbulent time in her life to the point where she is now excited about what the future holds for her family.