1.1 The Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA) believes first and foremost that it is important to recognise that the majority of people experiencing emotional distress are unlikely to be at immediate, serious risk of harm to themselves or others, and that giving people a safe place to express their distress can form part of an effective harm-minimisation strategy. ABTA is also aware that there is a need to respond appropriately to the rare situations where there is believed to be an immediate, serious risk of harm to the self or others: a ‘crisis situation’.
1.2 This policy is not intended to give guidance on wider matters relating to individuals experiencing distress, but is intended to ensure a consistent and sensitive approach to managing situations where there is a significant concern for a person’s wellbeing or for the wellbeing of the people around them.
1.3 This policy relates only to our peer support activities, such as the Live Chat service on our website. The ABTA is not responsible for the wellbeing of members of the general public who interact with the charity solely in a public forum, such as groups on social media or at public events.
2. Purpose of the policy
2.1 The purpose of this policy is:
(i) to provide guidance on the course of action to be taken in a crisis situation;
(ii) to enable ABTA Mentors to identify the limits to the support which they can provide and the appropriateness of referring an individual on to other agencies or services.
3. Immediate crisis: recommended course of action
3.1 In a situation where it is believed that a person’s behaviour presents an immediate risk to themselves or others the following process should be followed. Please note that while this is a suggested order of events, the order of the tasks may change depending on the situation:
- Notify the Volunteer Manager or CEO of the situation
- Ask where their baby is
- Ask the client if there is anybody with them or ask if you can call someone on their behalf
- Tell them that you would like to help them stay safe and that you will stay connected with them while they call Lifeline 13 11 14 . If they refuse to call Lifeline you could also offer the PANDA Helpline 1300 726 306.
- If possible, ask for their phone number so we can check in with them in the following days. This number should not be used by the mentor to contact the mentee but should be passed onto the Executive Committee.
3.2 The ABTA Executive Committee should also be notified of the details of the incident and any action taken using the Crisis Incident Report Form.
3.3 It is the ABTA’s aim, wherever possible, to offer appropriate support to both the reporting individual and the individual in distress; this will be delivered by different members of the ABTA Executive Committee in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
4. On-going concern: recommended course of action
4.1 Where a person’s well-being causes concern but does not present an immediate crisis, the recommended course of action is to encourage the person to speak to a health professional, such as their GP or for them to contact a relevant support service such as Lifeline 13 11 14. Ask them to confirm their email address and ask if it is OK if we follow up with them in a couple of days.
4.2 If the individual chooses not to follow this suggestion, in the context of the activities of the ABTA we are not in a position to take any further action, unless the cause for concern becomes a crisis situation.
4.3 If it is felt that an individual’s expectations of how ABTA activities could/should support them extend beyond our remit, mentors are encouraged to advise the client that while the ABTA is not equipped to provide the level of support they need, we are here to support them to connect with the services that can assist.
4.4 The concern should also be reported to the ABTA Executive Committee using the Crisis Incident Report Form.
Crisis Incident Report Form
- Decide whether further action is required
- Provide support to the Mentor involved in the incident.