Peer Support & Advocacy Team

Members of our team include

Peer Workers, Student Social Workers, and a Service Manager.


Our peer workers have their own experiences of child protection and out-of-home (OOHC) systems. They have had children restored to their care. They are a great bunch of people. Each has their own set of stories to tell about their experiences so they are valuable for many different parents. They care a lot about the experiences of other parents and family members and they are great listeners.


I have four amazing children. My twins have been through the system and are in kinship care. I went through a lot of domestic violence and mental health. I turned my life around. It was hard but it I did it through support and understanding the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ of my situation. Most importantly, it was me understanding me. I was lost, scared and broken. Now I’m here to support other parents and family dealing with child protection matters and their children being in care because I know first hand how that feels.


I have four beautiful children. My children were placed in care eight years ago. I have one child in my care full time, and I spend time with my other three children. It was a difficult and emotional journey, and I now understand the importance of having a great support network. I’d like to support parents by sharing my story and giving advice, hope and a sense of understanding to those who need it most.


With experience of having my own three children taken into care, I understand the struggle parents go through when dealing with the child protection system. I turned my life around, improved my relationships with my children and have had two of my children restored to my care. I am dedicated to helping other parents understand child protection and hope to link them with information to make the process easier.


I’m a mum of three children. My two eldest kids were put into care for seven years. My youngest child was never removed. While my children were in care, I did a lot of work on my mental health and parenting skills to become the parent my kids need me to be. It is because of my experiences that I want to help and support other parents to keep bonds with their children and feel supported while going through the system. I also volunteer with a chronic illness charity.


I am a mother of six children who has experienced the child protection system first hand. I have been through the system and had all my children returned to my sole care. I have seen how isolating and hard the struggle is for parents trying to better themselves and understand and fix the reasons for their children’s removal. It is now my passion to help other parents in this journey and achieve better outcomes for parents and children.



I am very fortunate to be doing my placement at FISH. I get to witness firsthand peer support in action and the impact it has on others. I wanted to study social work because I have always been passionate about social justice and human rights, with a particular interest in children’s rights and wellbeing. At FISH, I support these amazing parents who are in turn supporting other parents in a time when they really need it and educating the community about the need for children in care to know their families.


I chose social work because I have experienced injustice first hand. I have a passion for helping others and want to support people in similar positions when they need it the most. I Am interested in using my social work knowledge and skills to support families going through the legal system. My placement at FISH means I can learn about how families experience the legal system and its processes and think about ways to improve their inclusion and participation and meet the interests and rights of children and families. I’m so excited to be on placement with FISH and to learn from the FISH peer workers.




I am a social worker. I have been involved with FISH since its early days, originally as an ally to help consolidate FISH workshops for workers and carers, then as a committee member, and now as the manager of our new support and advocacy service. FISH is critically important to ensuring children have relationships with their parents and family during and after their time in care. This is fundamental to children and young people’s identities and wellbeing. I value inclusion of parents and family in planning and decision making about their children’s interests. I am dedicated to developing parents who have moved into leadership and support roles.


2022: Stella Flick & Sequoia Ellis, Third Year Social Work students, University of Newcastle.

2022: Jess Parr & Kelli Shaunessy, Fourth Year Social Work students, University of Newcastle.

Our peer support and advocacy service was made possible by the

Parent Peer Support Project (PPSP)

March 2019-October 2020 (read the final report)

Our peer support and advocacy services were made possible by this funded pilot project. The FISH peer support workers started their peer support experiences with that project and now continue them with FISH.

Two other Parent Partners who were part of the PPSP and did a fantastic job were

Shantelle Common and Michael Archer.

The PPSP was supported by many practitioners and agencies in child protection, legal, and broader child and family services, as well as a wonderful, supportive project management team who remain strong FISH allies:

Lynette Stoker was the Project Coordinator and member of the PPSP management team. Lyn has experience and interest in out of home care, child welfare and child-focused practice and she is a casual lecturer at the University of Newcastle. She is also a foundation member of FISH. She has been a practitioner in health and community services, a consultant with non-government organisations, and is interested in exploring early intervention and organisational responses to support better practice.

Jessica Cocks was a founding member of FISH in 2014 and a member of the PPSP management team. She also led the original work, seeking funding for the PPSP from the Law and Justice Foundation NSW. Jessica is a researcher and practitioner in out-of-home care with over 25 years experience. In 2016, Jessica was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research family inclusion initiatives in child welfare (read the report).

Dr Nicola Ross was the Project Manager for PPSP. Nicola is an academic who has practised as a lawyer and social worker, and undertakes sociolegal research. Her experience and research interests encompass child protection, family and criminal law with an emphasis on children’s participation, lawyers’ work with children and family violence. She has previously interviewed lawyers and children about their experiences of family, child protection and criminal proceedings.