Jaimee and Tony connected with the program last year, soon after Michael had been assessed by a speech therapist. The couple had been worrying about delays in his speech and the related frustrations were affecting their relationship.
“For close to a year, Jaimee and I had been struggling,” Tony said. “Our main focus has always been on Michael and his development, so we put our own relationship on the backburner.
“Our concerns about Michael led us to having arguments – and our arguments opened the door to the problems we were having with ourselves.
“Now, we don’t put ourselves way back. We seek support. While we still focus on Michael, we have others to talk to about our relationship problems at the same time.”
The Intensive Family Support program helps parents nurture safe, thriving, healthy and happy relationships with themselves and their children, so it was the ideal support service for Jaimee and Tony.
Tony said that from the start, the program’s workers took the time to help them.
“The amount of support that they gave us has been one of the best things anyone has done for us,” he said.
“It’s what we needed,” Jaimee added.
“I’ve always known that I’ve needed extra help to deal with the things I’ve gone through. I’ve never really had someone to go to, to talk to, to get things off my chest. I’ve had to, pretty much, hold onto things.
“And until YFS came into my life, I never realised that I needed help – someone to guide me – to get things off my chest.
“Without YFS’ support, I would probably be drinking. I’d possibly be back on the drugs, too, because things would be rolling around too much in my head.
“Now that I have support, I’ve learned to do things to occupy my mind. It’s making me a better parent and a better partner.”
A number of years ago, Jaimee ended up in hospital after a drink spiking lead to an assault. Before she came to YFS, she described herself as suicidal.
“If the YFS team didn’t come into our lives, we would still be, pretty much, pulling each other’s hair out and be frustrated with Michael’s speech issues,” she said.
The Intensive Family Support program is designed to deliver concentrated support to families, and then connect them with other services that can help them in the longer term.
The program’s manager, Sandra, explains.
“My team works with families who have multiple and complex needs, families who need some initial guidance to get the support they need,” Sandra said.
“We’ve since linked Jaimee and Tony with the Mercy Family Unit, which is a step-down service.
“Step-down support allows parents to continue to work on the issues they want to address, but in a less intense support environment.”
Jaimee says this ongoing help is essential.
“I still need support, because I never know whether my mind will start playing games with me again,” she said. “And that’s where the Mercy community really helps me.”
Sandra and her team credit Jaimee and Tony for turning their relationship around.
“They’ve done so amazingly well. They just needed extra help to achieve what they wanted to achieve. They’ve worked hard,” Sandra said.
“I’m super proud of these guys and I think that comes back to their want to communicate with themselves better. They really wanted their relationship to work. Their motivation meant they could easily identify the goals they wanted to achieve and they have achieved them.
“My team has just been the mechanism for Jaimee and Tony to get there.”
Find out more about Intensive Family Support on the YFS website: www.yfs.org.au/services/families-with-children.