Peer Support & Advocacy Team

Members of our team include

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

PEER WORKERS

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.

Felicity

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.

Rach

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.

Marlee

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.

Kaylah

I am a mother of three boys. I experienced all my children being in the out-of-home care system for roughly six years. One child was removed at birth. There is definitely a lot of ups and downs whilst navigating the system and different workers. I am here to support families going through the system and I am dedicated in providing emotional support and lived experience guidance throughout this process. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Laura

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.

STUDENT SOCIAL WORKERS

Jess

I am a fourth-year student completing the Bachelor in Social Work at the University of Newcastle. I have experience working in out-of-home care residential programs across the Hunter and have seen firsthand the frustration and isolation parents and young people experience during this time. I am passionate about building relationships between families and agencies to provide compassionate support for young people. I believe there is a need for systematic change within child protection and out-of-home care and parents are at the forefront of creating this change to better support families within our community.

Kelli

I am a student social worker in my final year at the University of Newcastle. I am really excited to be part of the FISH team and am looking forward to working as part of the peer support and advocacy team. I am passionate about advocacy for children and young people to build and maintain relationships with their families while they are in care and after they leave care.

SERVICE MANAGER

FISH

Lou

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 and then as a committee member. I am excited to be the manager during establishment of this 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.

FORMER STUDENT SOCIAL WORKER MEMBERS

2022: Stella Flick & Sequoia Ellis, Third 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.