Available in other languages

Families 4 Families WA

Families 4 Families WA

Non-judgmental, peer-led and facilitated online support for families, carers, supporters, significant others and individuals with experiences of mental health, alcohol and other drug challenges and criminal justice involvement. Based in Perth, WA but available to anyone who wishes to join online.
Welcome to Families 4 Families WA (F4FWA) – your family peer-led community offering a safe and supportive environment for families, friends and supporters. We define ‘families’ as ‘everyone who cares’. A F4FWA participant described the community as being a space where ‘authentic collective wisdom’ is safely shared. The mutual sharing of what we’ve learned from our experiences fosters understanding, empathy, resilience and expertise. F4FWA’s value has also been formally recognised: Finalist in the 2023 Support Groups Awards and Winner of the 2015 Alcohol and other Drug Excellence (Families) Award).

What is Families 4 Families WA?

“We’re always dancing on the edge of the abyss and it doesn’t take much to fall off. F4FWA is a safe space to land. – Rod, parent and F4FWA member.
Families 4 Families WA is a peer-led community that currently meets online via Zoom on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday night of every month, 7pm – 8pm AWST. The group started meeting in 2011 and we have never missed a scheduled session. We’re proud of that commitment and achievement particularly as we are run by peer volunteers who generously offer their time. Discussions are guided by an experienced family peer facilitator. F4FWA runs as an open, ongoing group and people choose to attend as they need and want.
The evenings are a mix of guest presenters; discussions on relevant topics or Open Mic nights when people talk about what’s important for them. Recent presentations have included learning about the Mental Health Law Centre; Health and Mental Health services in prison; Tough Conversations – the skills of Mediation; Family involvement in Treatment, Support and Discharge Planning under the Mental Health Act 2014.

Addressing crucial needs: The role of Families 4 Families WA

At Families 4 Families WA (F4FWA), we understand that discussing mental health, alcohol and drug use, and criminal justice system involvement can be deeply personal and sometimes challenging. That’s why we’ve created an environment where such discussions aren’t just possible, they’re welcome. Our safe, inclusive space encourages open conversation, whether you’re directly experiencing these issues or caring for someone who is.
Individuals and families with these experiences are often coping with a range of emotions such as shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. F4FWA participants have told us that sharing what is happening even with other family members or close friends can result in well-intentioned but unhelpful advice. That’s where the value of peer relationships come in. At F4FWA the focus is on hearing from people, wherever they’re at, in a non-judgmental way. Knowing that others have gone through similar situations and what helped them through can ease isolation and help people feel connected.
Too often in the systems they navigate, family members are labelled as ‘difficult’ or ‘demanding’, ‘over-involved’ or ‘not supportive’. Families are labelled as ‘dysfunctional’ or ‘multi-problem’. They are often cast as part of ‘the problem’ or as having caused ‘the problem’. It is important to recognise that violence and abuse can and does happen within some families and that inter-generational trauma is real and disrupts healthy connections. However, research shows that supportive relationships with family and close friends is key to an individual’s recovery. Healing is important for all members of a family including children, so that the family unit and the people within it can recover and thrive. F4FWA counters the stigma and discrimination faced by families by shining a light on their strengths, skills and expertise. Our peer facilitators foster a space that encourages and supports self-advocacy and taking back power.
Navigating one system, such as mental health services, can be challenging enough. When it comes to managing interactions with multiple systems – mental health, alcohol and drug services, and the criminal justice system – the task can feel overwhelming. F4FWA addresses this issue head-on. Our members bring a wealth of experience navigating a range of services and systems, and they’re eager to share their knowledge and insights. Their shared expertise paves the way for others to have better experiences.
Lastly, at F4FWA, we firmly believe in the power of diversity. Every individual’s story is unique, and we celebrate these differences. We welcome everyone, from all walks of life, recognising that each new perspective enriches our understanding and strengthens our community. By working together, we can foster empathy, understanding, and resilience.

Joining the peer-led and facilitated Families 4 Families community

Becoming part of our supportive community is simple. Just email us at [email protected] or text us at 0413 861 049. Please note, participation is FREE and voluntary. Registration of a contact phone number is required for safeguarding purposes.

When do we meet?
F4FWA gatherings take place online on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month, excluding public holidays, from 7pm – 8pm AWST. The meetings are conducted via Zoom so are accessible to people living across WA as well as folks joining us from interstate or even overseas.
What is our meeting format?
Our meetings are a mix of open peer discussions and guest presenters on contemporary services and approaches. The discussions are facilitated by peers, promoting a non-judgmental, safe sharing, and recovery and wellbeing focused environment. Participants are free to share their stories but are under no pressure to do so.
Co-learning and Development
Part of F4FWA’s strengths-based approach is to build capacity among families by sharing contemporary information. We invite guest presenters to provide information about new services or activities. Recent examples include presentations from the Mental Health Law Centre; Community Legal WA; Start Court. Presentations have been shared on How is Health / Mental Health addressed in prisons?; Mediation for 1 by a Family Mediation specialist; Guardianship and Administration. Focus group peer discussions have included: How to deal with chaos and distress; Listening: an essential relationship skill; The Cost of Hidden Stress. We also host Open Mic nights when peers can just share space and talk about whatever’s happening in their lives.
Contributing to sector consultations
F4FWA also contributes to sector consultations, bringing the unique family and supporter perspective to various governmental and non-governmental organisations. We’ve consulted with the Department of Communities, the WA Police Force’s Substantive Equality Unit, the Mental Health Commission, and the Mental Health Advocacy Service among others.
Our contribution to research
We promote the power of lived experience and Lived Experience expertise. We believe a diversity of these voices is critical for systems and services to achieve better outcomes for the people they serve. We participate and lead contemporary research projects that inform service, system and structural improvement and development. We are particularly interested in addressing the gaps experienced by MHM2 and F4FWA community members as identified by them.
Research partners have included WA Justice Association and WAUC to which we owe incredible thanks for their pro bono work. Institutional research partners have included Curtin University, University of Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Institute, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service and Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research. We’re keen to support researchers and people with lived experience and expertise to work together equitably in research that makes a difference.
Why join us?
By being a part of F4FWA, you’re joining a community that values and upholds:
  • Peer-led and facilitated discussions.
  • Strengths-based approach to individual experiences.
  • A recovery and wellbeing focus
  • Safe and supportive environment to share personal experiences.
  • Non-judgmental approach fostering open conversations.
  • Welcoming, diverse, and inclusive peer community.
  • Being here for you and a commitment to doing our best to leave you feeling supported, heard and respected.
  • Access to contemporary information and approaches in mental health, alcohol and other drug and criminal justice
  • Voluntary attendance and choice about sharing your story
Register today by simply sending your email address and phone number to [email protected] and be part of our next gathering. We look forward to welcoming you to our F4FWA community.
Building people’s confidence and capabilities: Get in touch
Our goal is to create better options and improved lives for individuals, families and supporters with experiences of mental health, alcohol and other drug challenges and criminal justice involvement.
Our long-standing presence in the mental health, alcohol and other drug areas is a testament to our dedication and passion for creating positive change. Over the years, we’ve learned, grown, and evolved, always with the aim of enhancing the lives of those in our community.
Skip to content