Information for 


General Practitioners are in regular contact with families that may include a child with disability or chronic illness. Siblings of these children can be ‘at risk’ for a range of mental and physical health problems, if not supported themselves. See the following fact sheets:
Some siblings will cope well, especially if they have strong connections to family, friends and the community. However, even if children cope well, they may still be in need of support to prevent problems developing in the future. GP’s can play an important role in helping families access resources and support services.

Things to consider in relation to siblings of children with special needs include:
• Information needs
• Family life
• Social connections

Sample questions are available to download in right column.

Possible interventions

When talking with parents GP’s can:

• Offer support to entire family through recognition of issues, understanding, provision of information re books or websites and appropriate referral where necessary(may include focused psychological strategies or referral to psychologist via a Mental Health Plan (2710)
• Suggest parents register for a Siblings Australia parent workshop
• Ensure the parents and family are well supported in their journey
• Suggest parents register siblings into peer support groups. See directory of services

When talking with siblings GPs can:

• refer a sibling to books and websites that might help with understanding
• let a sibling know that it is ok to have a mix of feelings – all brothers and sisters have mixed feelings about their brothers and sisters at different times
• let a sibling know they are not alone – refer them to the Siblings Australia website, or phone support services such as KidsHelpline
• encourage them to become involved in a sibling peer support program if they exist in your area
• help them to explore how they might improve their social networks
• if the sibling is an adult, refer them to the Siblings Australia website or, if warranted, to a professional counsellor.