George – Mary – Case Study You are a social worker at the Child, Adolescent and Family Health Service in a large Regional Centre. Your Community Health Centre services a large geographic area that includes, along with Ruralville (pop. 60,000) several outlying farming areas. The community is experiencing the effects of several years of drought. This impacts on the local economy as well as morale and well-being of the township overall. Property values have dropped in recent times and this has attracted newer arrivals to the community form large metropolitan areas seeking a ‘tree change’ along with affordable accommodation. There is some tension amongst some of the ‘local’, or more established’, community members towards the newer arrivals. Some of the locals think the newer arrivals are ‘dole’ bludgers’ and are ‘bringing the town down’. The community is a multicultural one, with large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Islander populations, as well as second and third generation Italian and Greek community members, many who settled in the 1950’s establishing market gardens. You have received a call from the local Child Well-being Unit who received a referral from the Home School Liaison Officer (HSLO) at the local primary school. Concerned about two recently enrolled children, a boy Tom, aged 7 years in Year 1 and a girl, Anna, aged 8 in Year 2, the HSLO had completed the Mandatory Reporters Guide which directed her to make a referral to the Child Well-being Unit. The referral advises that the family have recently arrived in Ruralville, from Melbourne, seeking a more affordable lifestyle. The mother, Mary 26yrs old, identifies as Aboriginal and is originally for Queensland. The father, George 27years old, is of Greek Heritage. They met at school and did not plan the arrival of Anna or Tom. They moved to Melbourne so George could follow a large construction job. He has subsequently had a series of labour and manual factory jobs, but is currently unemployed. The family secured a housing transfer and have moved into local rented public housing. George had thought that work would be more prevalent in the country, but the drought has impacted on employment opportunities. Mary hasn’t worked since she had Anna and Tom but used to think of further study, but feels that these ideas are removed from her reality now. The HSLO had advised that when the children were enrolled, in the school, Mary had identified the children as Aboriginal, but when the Aboriginal Liaison Educator made contact with the family, George made it clear that the children weren’t to participate in any ‘Aboriginal activities’ at the school. The HSLO also indicated that she felt that Mary “seemed nervous” at after school pick up time and avoided contact of conversation with staff and other parents. The HSLO also advised that the children had missed some school, but when there, they appeared to enjoy the routine. Additionally the children did not always bring lunch or have all the equipment required for school, suggesting when asked why, that “Mum was sick” of “Mum had hurt herself and couldn’t get things ready in the morning”. The only further information that HSLO had provided was that the Class Parent Representative had told the teachers that when she had attempted to visit the children’s home to welcome them to the school, “the yard appeared a mess”, “Mary had appeared nervous and not opened the door very much” and also stated that she believed she had “heard the father yelling in the background”. The class parent had left, stating, “those types never join, or help, anyway and that she had not attempted any further contact”.
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