Do your Orders or agreement specify a ‘centre’ or a ‘service’?

Many parents call us and ask for a centre, and we explain that we provide an offsite private supervision service. We then discuss the differences between both and ask that the parent check their Orders to see whether they are limited to a centre, or are able to book an offsite service as well.

What is the difference you may be wondering? We will discuss important factors to consider when understanding your supervised visitation court orders regarding centres and services, empowering you to navigate the differences with clarity and confidence.

1. Onsite v Offsite

Children’s contact centres, as the name implies is facilitated by staff at a centre. These are centres run by non-government organisations who also offer services like parenting courses and mediation. In these centres, you will find a range of games, crafts and play equipment that children can enjoy with their parent. Services are usually close to public transport and have separate entrances and staggered arrival times for parents.

This is different to a private offsite service as parents can choose and agree to a location suitable to them and the contact visit takes place there. They can be places at parks, kid’s café’s and shopping centres.

2. Flexibility of location

Supervised visits with private agencies can be very flexible. They can include the following arrangements as examples;

1. The changeover (handover of the child/ren before and after the visit) is at one location, and the visiting parent is permitted to drive the child/ren to any other location during the visit.

2. The supervisor picks the child/ren from the resident parent and takes them to the visiting parent for the visit.

3. Supervised visits are held at the visiting parent’s house where the pick up and drop off is around the corner.

4. Supervised Zoom visits where the supervisor arranges the video call.

5. Visits that permit the visiting parent to walk around the changeover location up to a certain radius.

3. Cost

Children’s contact centres are subsidised by the Attorney General’s Department so they will be less expensive than private offsite services.

Private offsite services are not subsidised so parents will usually pay the supervisor full fee. This is also notwithstanding the parent’s income.

4. Visitors

Children’s contact centres usually do not allow family and friends to attend the visit. The centres also usually do not allow video calls to be made to relatives and friends.
Private offsite services will usually allow visitors depending on their policies.

4. Wait times

Children’s contact centres usually have a long wait list, sometimes months depending on the day of the week, and the season. We usually see that wait lists increase before and during Christmas.

Private offsite services will usually have some availabilities immediately. These may be on certain days like weekdays, or specific times on the weekend. Otherwise, it is usual for private services to start visits within two weeks.