Social work and psychology

  • Social Work

    The Weight Management Social Work service is available to all patients of the Weight Management Clinic. Patients and families are referred to Social Work as required by other clinicians within the service.

    The role of Social Work is to assist patients and families in overcoming barriers to achieve their weight management goals. Some stressors that the social worker can assist with include family separation, loss and grief, trauma, adjustment to new diagnosis, chronic health challenges, disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities and mental health disorders; family violence, current or history of child abuse and neglect; homelessness; financial constraints, isolation, lack of family or social supports; loss of income; significant family changes and parental mental illness.

    The social worker will complete a psychosocial assessment to identify any of these stressors. The assessment may result in the following:

    • Advice and education 
    • Role modelling (behaviour modifications, parenting strategies, boundaries, limit setting
    • Goal setting
    • Linkages to community resources and supports
    • Referrals to community supports
    • Liaising with schools, existing community supports or other professionals involved with the family
    • Referrals to adult mental health services
    • Referrals to counselling services or family therapy services
    • Financial aid to families that travel over 100 km to the appointment
    • Financial assistance with parking at RCH to families with financial strains
    • Linkages to cultural appropriate services or Aboriginal appropriate services

    For children and families

    Social workers work with the entire family when available. Although the young person may be the patient at the Weight Management Clinic, a family or holistic approach is taken to assist with weight management and healthy lifestyle changes.

    Social workers use all different tools to engage children depending on their age and stage of development. Disabilities, culture, language and mental health disorders are all taken into consideration as well as the possibility of trauma when an assessment is completed. All conversations held with the social worker are kept private and confidential.

    It is understood by the social worker that all families have a history and a story to tell. There is no information that is too difficult or delicate for the social worker to hear if it is an important part of helping the young person lead a better and healthier life.

    For healthcare professionals

    The young person or family may benefit from ongoing social work support. Whilst this could be recommended after being seen within the Weight Management Service, it can sometimes be beneficial for this to commence prior to their first appointment. If you feel that this is required, you can call your local Child FIRST number to ask for advice or make a referral for a family who is requiring extra support.

    The Department of Health and Human Services is a good starting point in accessing information related to the stressors we see families experiencing that require social work input.

    The Weight Management Service Social Worker is available from 8:30am-4:30pm Thursdays only. They can be contacted through the Weight Management Service on (03) 9345 4765.


    Raising Children Network

    Child FIRST - 1300 664 977

    Parent Helpline - 13 22 89

    Department of Health and Human Services


    The weight management psychology service is available to support children and families in dealing with the impact of overweight and obesity in their lives. This may be around self-esteem, motivation, behaviour change and psychoeducation. The psychologist is also available to help in other areas of difficulty for the young person such as anxiety, low mood, behaviour, school, friendships, learning, and adjusting to life changes.  The support is available while the child/adolescent is a patient of the Weight Management Service.

    Please note: The psychologist is available for assessment and linkage to community services for ongoing therapy.  The Weight Management Psychologist does is unable to provide ongoing therapy within this service.

    With the weight management service, the treating doctor will refer to the psychologist after their initial assessment and meeting with the family. The referral may be made for a number of reasons, some of those listed above. The doctor will always let you know why they are referring and the types of things that would be helpful through meeting with the psychologist.

    Following the referral, the psychologist will meet with the family on the same day for a brief assessment. There are a number of different outcomes which may come from this discussion:

    • Information and advice to take away, such as help sheets and strategies
    • Referral out to community mental health services, closer to the young person’s home
    • Referral to other services within the Royal Children’s Hospital
    • Offer of telephone contact between appointments to check progress
    • Contact with the young person’s school or other agencies involved in their care

    For children and families

    Noticing that your child is struggling with anxiety, low mood, or any of those other difficulties which are listed above can be very stressful. There are a number of avenues to access information and support, and these are outlined on the RCH Mental Health service website. Alternatively, if you have concerns about your child and would like to speak to someone about getting support for them, please call the RCH Mental Health Intake team on 1800 44 55 11 and the clinicians will be able to point you in the right direction.

    Parents and carers play a pivotal role in supporting the young person in managing their weight. Family involvement, through interventions such as family-based behavioural treatment and parenting skills training have found to be some of the most effective psychological interventions of childhood obesity. Interventions such as these help parents understand their role in their child’s diet and activity level and provides them with useful strategies to encourage healthy behaviours in their children. More information on these approaches can be found at:

    Australian Psychological Society

    For healthcare professionals

    The young person may benefit from ongoing psychological support. Whilst this could be recommended after being seen within the Weight Management Service, it can sometimes be beneficial for this to commence prior to their first appointment. If you feel that this is required, the young person may access a Mental Health Care Plan through their GP. Further information about services and supports available for young people can be found through the RCH Mental Health Service or contacting our Mental Health Intake team on 1800 44 55 11.

    Headspace have a range of help sheets available online, which provides information on a wide range of mental health difficulties which a young person may be experiencing.

    The Weight Management Service Psychologist is available from 8:30am-4:30pm Thursdays only. They can be contacted through the Weight Management Service nurse coordinator on (03) 9345 4765