Side by Side:
Peer Mentoring

Do you think you could be a Family Partner?

DDWA’s Side by Side program is looking for people to become Family Partner’s as part of our Peer Support Group.

Family Partnerships at work/play

Pictured at one of the Side by Side coffee mornings are (from left to right) Isabelle, Jacque, Joanne, Gavin, Marc, Joanne, Alison and Jodie.

WHO – Side by Side is, in essence, peer mentoring meaning we value the lived experience and particularly the sharing of knowledge and insights to living with a family member with challenging behaviour.

WHY – Walking alongside someone to overcome such issues as stigma, discrimination, exclusion, anxiety, loneliness and isolation.  Assisting them with coping strategies, companionship and assisting them to participate more fully in community.

Peer support is at the very centre of the service, and people can access supports for themselves, their family, and their son or daughter, in line with their needs.

The role of the Family Partner with Side by Side

Side by Side call their peer mentors, Family Partners. Peer support is a non-professional, non-clinical model of providing support and education. Developing relationships based on the shared lived experience, offering practical and emotional support as an equal, in an empowering way that promotes recovery and inspires hope.

Families who have experienced support from a family partner say that five features of the role have particular value:

  1.    Fostering hope through connection with others who have had similar experience
  2.    Validation of me and my decisions
  3.    Strength based approach
  4.    Building relationship and connection
  5.    Flexibility
  6.    Accompanying Parent/Advocacy to meetings, appointments

Side by Side has developed a training package which will provide Family Partners with the skills and knowledge to enable them to be comfortable and confident in the independent third party/accompanying parent role.

Families also appreciate:

  • Understanding and empathy
  • Knowing they are not alone
  • Getting new ideas to try and brainstorming with their family partner
  • Support
  • Being able to reflect with somebody on a situation after the event, to be able to discuss it
  • Honesty
  • No pressure

Side by Side are always on the lookout for parents who have a particular skills set who are interested becoming a Family Partner. If you believe you are in a position to share your knowledge, skills and experiences with others who may be needing it, then please contact Bron Pike on 9420 7203 on email:

Being a family partner is more than just being a support person to someone. It personally gets you out into the community meeting other people that are going through situations that you have been through. These people that you meet you build a relationship that is built on trust and often becomes a friendship, as well it is a constant reminder that you are not alone in this journey as you might have got through some challenges but there are still hurdles ahead.

Being able to problem solve with your family partner, go to meetings or just to talk them through an anxious situation, and know that they are feeling supported and hopeful is very rewarding.

Parents will continually learn from each other as they know their children best and have a lot of knowledge about what their needs are, they might just need some help to navigate some strategies.

When you are supporting a family it will keep you thinking about your own strategies at home which I find helps to keep me on track.

Jodie Campbell

Family Partner, Side by Side

Meetings with Side by Side are a coming together of people with similar family experiences. It’s a chance to talk about anything and everything. Difficulty’s you are having get discussed and ideas are given to help. Doors and opportunities that would not have thought of are opened.

Mutual friendship and companionship are made. The support that my family have received has been very valuable. It has been good for me for the support and listening to other people’s stories has made me feel not as alone. The ideas that have been shared have helped immensely and I can’t put in to words how much it is helping my family.

Just having this support has made the biggest difference to my family.

If only everyone that has a child with challenging behaviours knew of this support then our worlds of having a child with a disability would be an easier place. I would never have gone unless it was for my support person and the group made this possible. Thank you Side By Side.

Joanne Samuel

Member