The Bumpy Road – Our child protection journey. Hear from parents with experience

Rachel Tozer1,2, Janis Velan2, Lisa  Bartulis2

1Access Easy English, Australia, 2The WASH House, Australia

Background
Parents with an intellectual disability are significantly disadvantaged in the NSW child protection system.

Parents describe their experience as confusing, and information is hard to find. When they find information, it is hard to read and understand. Parents describe feeling powerless.

The Women’s Activities and Self Help House, The Intellectual Disability Rights Service and parents with an intellectual disability and lived experience used a co-design model to improve access to information for parents engaged with the child protection system.

The project was funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Aim
To create a meaningful and accessible resource to help parents with an intellectual disability navigate the NSW child protection system.

Method
Eight parents committed to work together for 18 months. They met 26 times and were paid for the time. Key questions were

  • what makes a website accessible?
  • what content is needed?
  • how to develop and present the content?
  • what images could help understand the child protection process?
  • how to promote the resources?

Results
The group designed a website to reach parents of all abilities with 32 Easy English fact sheets, 4 videos and 6 parent stories. The website has received positive feedback and parents report the site and Easy English documents are easy to use and understand.

Implications
An accessible tool can increase the knowledge and power of parents with an intellectual disability. It is useful for parents experiencing stress and trauma. It highlights the importance of parents with intellectual disability knowing about processes in child protection.


Biography:

Rachel works for Access Easy English. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy. Rachel was Project Coordinator – The Bumpy Road. A co-design project which made a website for parents with intellectual disability experiencing the child protection system. Rachel’s special interest and experience – supporting parents with an intellectual disability.