The first TOUGHLOVE (TL) Parent Support Groups in Australia were established in the early 1990’s, by groups of parents who needed support for dealing effectively with difficult or harmful, teen or adult-child behaviour. Those parents had already searched for affordable, accessible, and useful support and had found their options were limited, or non-existent. The TL Parent Program offered the opportunity for parents to help themselves. It embraces the concept of sharing parental experiences, wisdom, creativity and support within one’s own community as a means of solving family problems. Not exactly a new idea but one that seems to have worked well for many of our families. The issues that brought parents to TL thirty years ago, like drug abuse, verbal and physical abuse, wagging school, and shoplifting, continue to be problems that some of today’s parents face with their teens. Sadly, adding to that list are newer problems like ice, sexting, bullying, internet addiction and an escalating number of younger teens running away from home to live the “free” life. Parents need support today, as much as ever.
Initially, parents were introduced to the TOUGHLOVE Program via professionals working in the community welfare sector. The goal of the Program was, and is, for parents with similar problems, to support each other in the quest for positive change. The TL Program offers a structured process by which this can be achieved. Parents are empowered to develop and implement their own solutions and ultimately to assume responsibility for leading and maintaining TL support groups in their own communities. This has been occurring in TL Support Groups across the eastern states of Australia for almost 25 years now.
The original, parent-led TOUGHLOVE support groups in each state, banded together early on and established state associations that help promote, maintain and expand the network of support for parents in crisis. There are TOUGHLOVE Associations and support groups in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. TOUGHLOVE Australia is the collective of state associations, established to pool knowledge, experience and solutions for issues affecting our constituent bodies. Our organisation in Australia is volunteer run and is not for profit. We do not receive any significant support from government.
The need for affordable, accessible and effective support for families has not diminished and the options available to parents are still limited. We are very proud that over this time, the TOUGHLOVE Program and our parent support groups have served to assist thousands of parents across the country, to get their lives and their kids’ back on track. We acknowledge the debt we owe to our TL parents, past and present. They have given, and continue to give selflessly to their communities, so that other families can continue to access support, that will help them to survive their crisis and build a better future for their family.