A new system

Originally developed in Australia, this six-step program outlines the steps needed to implement a fresh, health-focused approach to family separation. It shows the importance of avoiding interventions that are too late, by providing much more widespread support for children and families earlier, when they most need it.

This 6-step program aims to ensure that few families get involved in the protracted, unaffordable and frightening court proceedings that so many experience today. Instead, through the provision of support, education and much earlier interventions for children and parents, families will, in future, be better equipped, supported and empowered to make better choices.

Many of the tools, programs or resources that would help children, parents and families better are already available, somewhere around the globe, and one of our aims is to share or replicate such programs and make them more readily accessible. Other elements of this 6-step program will take some years to develop and implement fully.

Some of these steps will also take years to bear fruit, but the results will be all the more enduring as a result. Children will learn, early on, how to form better relationships and how to deal with power imbalances and conflict. Parents will learn of the extreme risks to children of acrimonious family break-ups and will be better prepared and empowered to avoid them. Families will become more resilient.

The impact of implementing some of our other steps, though, would be almost immediate. Many families could, today, be spared harmful court proceedings through the introduction of mandatory arbitration or carefully managed conciliation that gives families a chance – and the best of incentives – to reach good decisions for their children in a non-adversarial environment. Online resources, smartphone apps and other tools made possible by technological advances can also play an increasingly important role and are integral to the development of safer, swifter ways of supporting families.

With the right investment, promotion and incentives, each of our six steps for safer, healthier children and families could be filled with so wide a range of private sector and government initiatives that, within 20 years, we will look back in disbelief at what we once thought to be an appropriate way to deal with the most deeply personal issue of family break-up and the associated risks to the health and wellbeing of our children and families.

At the same time, we will see how we have helped break the cycle of inter-generational trauma that plays such a key role in so many other social issues today.

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