More Monica Dickens
After An Open Book, I went back to the compendium and read Kate and Emma, which she wrote after accompanying some social workers on their rounds and seeing the poverty and deprivation and abuse they had to deal with, and the way that cruelty to children can repeat down the generations. Sadly, though this book was set in the sixties, I'm sure that not much has changed (more paperwork for the social workers, probably). Kate and Emma charts the friendship between a magistrate's daughter and a teenager fostered away from her neglectful and abusive parents, and, realistically, it doesn't end well.
Monica Dickens founded the first branch of the Samaritans in the United States, where she moved after her marriage. This was a helpline for the desperate and lonely, which provided just a listening ear, someone to talk to, for people in crisis. I'm not sure if they are active in Australia. There seems to be a branch in WA, but perhaps elsewhere Lifeline fills this niche. I once applied to volunteer for Lifeline, but had to pull out because I was planning to travel overseas and couldn't give the required commitment. Maybe I should look into it again. Listening seems like something I could do.