Fourteen-year-old Robyn* resided with her father. She had no contact with her biological mother. She had had a positive relationship with her stepmother, Suzanna*, but Suzanna had separated from Robyn’s father. Robyn’s father had a mental illness. Following their separation, he had obtained a domestic violence order against Suzanna and had included Robyn as a named person on the order which meant that Suzanna could not have any contact with Robyn. Robyn did not know this.
Robyn’s father’s mental health resulted in an extreme reluctance to leave the house and affected his ability to be able to provide for Robyn – even in terms of providing meals. He was not engaged with her school in any way and Robyn had to organise her own way to and from school and associated events.
Robyn was very excited to see Suzanna one day in a shopping centre and wanted to spend time with her. Robyn asked Suzanna to come to a school event but was then told about the domestic violence order which meant this was not possible. At about this time Robyn came home from school one day and found that her father had invited another woman to stay at the house with them. Robyn did not feel very safe with this person.
Robyn came to the Youth Advocacy Centre for assistance to vary the court order to allow her to have contact with Suzanna, having been referred to the Youth Advocacy Centre by a Legal Aid lawyer. The court granted the variation.
As a result, Suzanna can help Robyn with meals and transport to and from school and Robyn can stay with Suzanna when she feels unsafe at home.
(*not their real name)