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Taking Our Story to the World


On the 25th of May, 2019, seven committee members of the ANZASCS will be heading off to what is considered to be the most ‘unique city’ in the United States of America.

Nola, New Orleans is world-renowned for its distinct music, Creole cuisine, unique dialect, and of course it’s annual celebration of Mardi Gras and the Jazz festival. Whilst enjoying the taste of a ‘crawfish boil’, and visiting hotspots such as Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, the St Louis Cathedral and the Mississippi River may be top of the list for most travelers visiting the city, the committee of the ANZASCS have their sights on a more important mission.

In September 2018, the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services (ANZASCS) held its bi-annual conference in Taupo, and it was during this time that members showed interest in attending the International Conference of the Supervised Visitation Network (SVN). But of course, being ‘kiwis’, the committee decided that it would also be a great opportunity to participate in the delivery of workshops and share their stories on how supervised contact services are being delivered in New Zealand, and they were thrilled when their proposal was accepted.

It is a great privilege that a group of New Zealanders will travel abroad to showcase how supervised contact services differ from other countries and it will also allow an opportunity for participants to access specialized training and information that is not accessible in this country.

The conference will run over three days, with a variety of workshops and presentations being delivered by the likes of top American lawyer, Casey Gwinn, Esq. Casey has served as the elected City Attorney of San Diego and founded its Child Abuse and Domestic Violence unit. Casey and his team support more than 130 open and developing Family Justice Centers in the U.S. and around the world. He is also an expert in the handling of near-fatal strangulation assaults, with his work being profiled on shows such as ‘Oprah Winfrey, CBS, The Early Show, USA Today, Huffington Post, New Yorker Magazine and other news outlets.

Hera McLeod, a Seattle based writer will share her experiences of being a speaker and civil rights activist who is known for speaking up and testifying about the silence of children and women’s civil rights in relation to domestic violence and the Family Court reform.

Sheriff Craig Webre, former Police officer, State trooper, youth care specialist and one of the youngest Sheriff’s to ever hold office in Louisiana will share his story and the work he has done to implement programs to stop crime and support youth who are underprivileged.

Additional presenters will be, Charlie Appelstein. M.S.W, President of Appelstein Training Resources and author of three critically acclaimed books on youth care and innovative CD’s that help kids and parents make better choices and lead happier lives. And, Karen Oehme, a distinguished university scholar and Director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies in Florida.

The workshop run by the ANZASCS Committee will include an introduction to New Zealand – our cultural/ social/legal settings. A presentation on the key considerations for the delivery of supervised contact services in New Zealand from a child centered prospective. A presenter’s own personal journey through issues relating to separation, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session of attendees.

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services (ANZASCS) is an Incorporated Society with charitable (not-for-profit) status. It was established in 1997 at the request of Former Principal Family Court Judge Patrick Mahoney, with a view to ensuring standards for service delivery were overseen by a neutral body representing the interests of all concerned. The former association for services was combined with the Australian services and change was due to the introduction of the Care of Children Act in New Zealand, in 2004.

The ANZASCS is the ‘umbrella’ organisation which over-sees the delivery of children’s supervised contact services amongst its member organisations throughout New Zealand. Its purpose is to promote and facilitate the welfare, development and best interests of children and their families by assisting in the establishment, promotion and oversight of appropriate child contact services and the education and support of those involved in providing those services to their community.

Contact with a child is how and when a child gets to spend time with a parent or other person who does not have day-to-day care of them. Supervised Contact through an approved service is where contact with a child takes place in a safe, neutral and controlled environment and is overseen by trained supervisors, who are experienced and able to intervene if any concerns arise. It is most often used when one parent has been violent, either towards the other parent or towards the child, or when children have been removed from their parent/s, due to care and protection concerns.

For many children, contact with an absent parent can be a deeply complex and problematic experience for them, even when they have had a mostly untroubled relationship. Contact or visiting a parent by appointment is unique and it can sometimes stir up confusing and disturbing emotions for children. Equally, parents themselves have typically had no experience of what Supervised Contact looks like and are often not prepared for how it will impact on them and their children.

The aim of Supervised Contact is to ensure that a child is safe from physical harm and any form of psychological and/or emotional abuse. Supervisors can also play an important role in guiding parents to improve their parenting, as well as the interactions they have with their children.

This is why the role of the ANZASCS is so crucial to the services that have been established in New Zealand and how they are implemented throughout the country. All members of the Committee for the Association provide their services on a fully voluntary (unpaid) basis, whilst carrying out their day to day jobs as Supervised Contact Coordinators and other vocations related to working with children and their community.

All members of the Committee have been working hard to fundraise as individuals as well as a group, by the way of making applications for funding or donations, selling raffle tickets, and by promoting the ‘Givealittle’ Page that they have set up to raise funds. At this stage, the Committee have only raised a small portion of their goal and would like to seek support from New Zealanders so that they can attend.

Your donation will not only assist the members to attend, but it will also support the work that they do, which ultimately benefits the children and families that require services in this unique field.

If you would like to make a donation you can go to: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/taking-our-story-to-the-world If you would like to learn more about the conference you can check out the following link https://www.svnworldwide.org/conference_workshops.asp

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