Family Support Services
There are lots of Government funded support services for families affected by someone's alcohol or other drug use. Click on the pages below to find out where you can get help.
There are a number of different support services available for families who are affected by someone’s alcohol and other drug use.
Who can access family support services?
Family support services are available to anyone affected by a close friend or family member’s alcohol or other drug use. This might be a partner, parent, child, grandparent, or housemate – or any other close friend or family member.
What type of services are available?
Family support services include:
- Family counselling or family therapy
- Individual or couples counselling for families
- Family support groups
- Telephone support lines
- Support services for siblings
- Workshops and information sessions
How much do these services cost?
Most family support services are funded by the State and Federal Government and provided at either no cost or low cost to families. Usually, you don’t need a GP referral or Medicare card to attend these services.
Where can I find family support services?
All publicly funded alcohol and other drug services in Victoria can provide support services to families affected by someone’s alcohol or other drug use.
Where can I find family support services in Victoria?
Family alcohol and other drug counselling is for people affected by a family member’s alcohol or other drug use. It is available for individuals, couples and families. Counselling can take place with or without the person who is using alcohol or other drugs, but it often works better if the whole family can go together.
Family alcohol and other drug counsellors have experience in both family counselling as well as in alcohol and other drug treatment – so it’s more specialised than other types of family or relationship counselling.
What happens in family counselling sessions?
At your first family appointment you will be able to talk about your concerns and what you would like to focus on in the sessions. This might include improving communication, reducing stress, developing coping strategies and supporting each other. Your counsellor will ask some questions about what’s been happening in your family and help you to make a plan together. They will work with you on your goals, and link you in with other support services if you need. The counsellor can also give you information about alcohol or other drug use and help your family to navigate the treatment system. During the counselling sessions, It’s common to talk about a range of issues that the family may be experiencing, such as anxiety, fear, guilt, worry or family conflict – as well as the alcohol or other drug use of your family member.
How much does it cost?
Family alcohol and other drug counselling is funded by the State and Federal Governments, and provided at no cost to you. You do not need a GP referral to access family alcohol and other drug counselling. Usually, you can get an appointment with a counsellor within 1-3 weeks of contacting the service.
How often do families come to counselling?
Some families go to counselling for just one session – this can be a good chance to talk about what’s going on, get some information and make a plan together. Other families might decide to come to counselling for a longer period, which might last for a few weeks or months. It’s different for each family. Most people attend weekly or fortnightly counselling sessions to begin with, but you might change how often you come depending on what’s going on for you and your family.
How do I find a family alcohol and other drug counsellor?
For detailed information on how to refer to family counselling, see the section above on ‘Where can I find family support services?’.
- To find family counselling services in Victoria, contact DirectLine on 1800 888 236.
- You can also contact your local intake service and ask about family alcohol and drug counselling and support.
Where can I find more information?
Click on the video below by Connect4Health to find out more about how family alcohol and other drug counselling can help you and your family.
Family support groups let you meet with other families in a safe and supportive space to share your experiences and learn from each other. Knowing that you’re not alone and talking to others with similar experiences can be really helpful. Families who attend the support groups often say they feel more connected, listened to and supported.
These support groups are usually free (some ask for a gold coin donation or have a small fee). You don’t need an appointment or referral to go to a group. The groups usually run weekly or fortnightly and you can go as often or as little as you like.
Family Drug Help
Family Drug Help run free support groups across Victoria. Each group has a different topic or theme, and there is often a guest speaker who comes to talk about this topic in the first half of the group. The second half of the group provides time for families to share experiences and support each other. Family Drug Help also run a free ‘grief and bereavement support group’ for people who have lost a family member because of alcohol or other drug use.
For more information on these groups, call Family Drug Help on 1300 660 068 or visit their website here.
Family Drug Support
Family Drug Support run family support groups across Australia. These groups are run by trained workers who usually have their own experiences as a family member affected by alcohol or other drugs. The groups focus on sharing experiences and supporting each other. You can find out more about the Family Drug Support groups on their website here.
Al-Anon Family Groups Australia
Al-Anon run family support group for people concerned about a friend or family member’s alcohol use. Their program is based on the Alcoholics Anonymous program and uses the ‘Twelve Steps’ model. It includes ‘Alateen’ which is a support group for teenagers affected by a friend or family member’s alcohol use. Al-Anon run a number of weekly groups in the Inner East and other areas of Victoria and Australia. You can find the full list of meetings on their website here.
There are telephone support services for families which you can phone at any time to get advice, information or support. It can really help to have someone to talk to, and you can phone anonymously (without giving your name and details) if you like.
Family Drug Help and Family Drug Support
Family Drug Help and Family Drug Support both run 24 hour telephone support lines for families which are run by trained volunteers who have experienced alcohol or other drug use in their family. You can call these support lines at any time to speak to someone about what’s going on in your family, get advice or find out more about support services in your local area.
Ice Advice Line
In Victoria, you can contact the Ice Advice Line on 1800 423 238 (1800 ICE ADVICE) for 24hr information and advice about ice (methamphetamine).
What is family violence?
Family violence is any type of abusive, threatening, controlling or violent behaviour between family members. Family violence can happen in any type of family relationship, such as between partners, ex-partners, siblings, parents, children or grandparents.
Sometimes it can be hard to recognize family violence when it’s happening in your family. If you feel unsafe in your home or threatened by a family member, then you may be experiencing family violence. Family violence includes a partner making threats to hurt their ex-partner. It also includes a son or daughter who punches holes in the wall at home and yells or swears at their parents.
Where can I get help for family violence?
There are lots of services to support people affected by family violence. If you feel at risk or unsafe, contact 000 immediately.
Family Drug Support have a brochure called ‘Walking The Tightrope’ which provides helpful information about alcohol and other drug-related violence in the family, including tips on communication and staying safe. You can see the brochure by clicking here.
There are specialist family violence services across Victoria and Australia which you can access:
- Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre offers services to women and children experiencing family violence. Visit their website here for more information, or call them on 1800 015 188 (24hrs).
- 1800 RESPECT is a national family violence counselling and telephone support service. You can contact them on 1800 737 732 (24hrs) or visit their website here.
- Men’s Behaviour Change is a group program for men who are using family violence. Men’s Behaviour Change groups are run at several different organisations. In the Inner East Region of Melbourne, there are groups run by Relationships Australia in Kew (phone 03 9261 8700) and Link Health and Community in Glen Waverley (phone 1300 552 509). You can find out more about the program on the Men’s Referral Service website here.
- Men’s Referral Service provide counselling and support for men affected by family violence, including men who are victims of family violence and men who are using violence against others. You can call them on 1300 766 491 or visit their website here.
- MensLine Australia is a national telephone and online support service that can provide support for men experiencing relationship problems. Visit their website here for more information or call 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours).
- Eastern Domestic Violence Crisis Service (EDVOS) provide support services for people experiencing family violence in the Eastern Region of Victoria. Please visit their website here or phone 03 9259 4200 for more information.
Some community health services will also have dedicated family violence counsellors. Please call your local intake service for more information.
Making a safety plan
If you feel unsafe in your home and are worried about the risk of violence, you might want to develop a safety plan. This can include a list of people and crisis services you can call, safe places you can go and what you might need to take with you.
- For more information on creating a safety plan, please visit the Safe Steps website here.
Family Intervention Orders
A ‘family violence intervention order’ is a legal order which can be made by the Court to stop someone from using family violence or from contacting their partner, ex-partner or family member. Anyone who is experiencing family violence can apply for a family violence intervention order at their local Magistrate’s Court. If you need protection straight away, you can apply for an ‘interim intervention order’ which starts immediately. The police can also apply for a family violence intervention order on your behalf. If you need protection straight away, they can apply for an interim intervention order.
- For information about how to apply for a family violence intervention order in Victoria, please visit the Magistrate’s Court website here or the Victorian Legal Aid website here.
- To contact your local Magistrate’s Court, click here to find your local court.
- To find your local Community Legal Centre, please click here.
- You can click on the video below by the Eastern Community Legal Centre which explains what a family violence intervention order is and how you can apply for one. You can also watch this video in other languages from their website here.
Support Services for Siblings
It can be really tough when your brother or sister has a problem with alcohol or other drugs. Siblings might feel worried, anxious, guilty, or angry, especially when a lot of the family’s attention is on their brother or sister.
The Sibling Support program at Family Drug Help has a great website with online resources to use. You can access these resources for free by clicking on the website here. For more information about the Sibling Support program, you can click on the video below.
There are different workshops and courses available for families who might want to learn more about alcohol or other drug use.
Family Drug Help: Action Recovery Course (ARC)
Action Recovery Course (ARC) is a six week group program by Family Drug Help in Victoria which runs weekly for two hours, usually in the evening. It covers topics such as ‘stages of change’, guilt and worry, setting boundaries, and planning for the future. Some groups may have a fee, which includes the program workbook.
- To book into the ARC program, phone Family Drug Help on 9573 1706 or 1300 660 068, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about the ARC program, visit the Family Drug Help website here.
Family Drug Support: Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones is a four day workshop by Family Drug Support which is usually run over two weekends at different locations across Australia. The workshop focusses on helping families develop coping skills and communication strategies, and includes a program workbook. To book into a Stepping Stones workshop, contact Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186 or visit the website here.
Family Drug Support: Stepping Forward
Stepping Forward is a three part information session run by Family Drug Support at different locations across Australia. Each session runs for around two hours. The sessions include information on ‘stages of change’, alcohol and other drug use and good communication. To book into a Stepping Forward session, contact Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186 or visit their website here.
BreakThrough for Families: Information Sessions on Ice (Methamphetamine):
BreakThrough for Families is an information session about ice (methamphetamine) for families which is run at locations across Victoria. The BreakThrough sessions last for around four hours (either 1 x four hour session or 2 x two hour sessions) and cover three main topics: facts about ice, strategies for coping, and how to get help. To book into a session or access the online program, visit the BreakThrough website here.
Wellways Australia: ‘Building A Future’
The Wellways Australia ‘Building a Future’ program supports people across Australia whose family member has a mental illness or problems with alcohol and other drugs. The ‘Building A Future’ program is a place where families can learn more about how to support someone with a mental illness through their recovery, and help families to cope with the impact of mental illness and alcohol or other drug problems.
ReGen Methamphetamine ‘Family First Aid’ Program
The Methamphetamine Family First Aid program is for Victorians who have a family member who is using methamphetamine (ice). The program provides families’ with support, information and strategies to respond to a family member’s methamphetamine use. Topics include making safety plans, setting boundaries, and dealing with anger, anxiety or paranoia. The program also includes tips for self-care for families and significant others.
The program is located in Coburg (Melbourne) and is provided at no cost by ReGen (a Victorian Government-funded alcohol and other drug service).
To register, or for more information, contact ReGen on 03 9386 2876 and ask to speak to a worker about the Family First Aid Program.
‘Cracks in the Ice’
‘Cracks in the Ice’ is a new online toolkit providing up-to-date information and resources about crystal methamphetamine (ice) for the Australian community. The website was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. You can visit the website by clicking here, or click here to see the pages for families and friends.