Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

American Tragedy – Families and Children Helpline

A free national counselling service to help children traumatised by the terrorist attacks on America will commence tomorrow, Monday, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, announced today.

Senator Vanstone said the new helpline would be staffed by professional counsellors who would provide advice to parents on how children can be helped to cope with any fears or anxiety.

“All Australians have been deeply affected by the attacks on America,” Senator Vanstone said.

“The experience of seeing horrific images and footage of the attacks, especially the scenes of loss of life and destruction, has been distressing for many people.

“The Howard Government is aware that many Australian families are concerned about the possible impact of these events on their children.

“Whilst it is only natural for children to feel afraid, parents, teachers and carers need to understand what children and young people may be feeling at this time and how to support them.

“Especially while media coverage of the tragedy in New York remains high, parents and those who work with children also need to be reassured that they are using the right strategies to help their children cope.

“I particularly welcome the support and assistance of the Children’s Protection Society and the Department of Family and Community Services, for getting this important service up and running.”

The Helpline number is 1800 629 357* and will be open from 8am, Monday 24 September.

The service will operate between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.

*Calls are free, except from mobile and pay phones