Early Parenting Centres | Adjournment & Response

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (18:29:00): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, the Honourable Jenny Mikakos. Sleep and settling is one of the biggest challenges facing new parents, with around one in two parents reporting problems with their child’s sleep. This can lead to postnatal depression, isolation and stress for parents and can impact a child’s behavioural, mental and physical development. In the Victorian budget 2019–20 funding of $135.1 million has been provided for nine new and upgraded early parenting centres, which will ensure parents are supported when it comes to sleeping, feeding and extra care for babies with additional needs. We have two such centres within my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region, including the Tweddle Child and Family Health Service in Footscray, which will receive $9 million towards a refurbishment, and a completely new centre to be built in Wyndham. These centres will deliver a range of critical services, including day-stay sleep programs and longer residential stays. The centre in Wyndham will support around 690 families each year. The action I seek from the minister is that during the designing phase of this new early parenting centre feedback is sought from the families in my electorate about the types of services new parents will find beneficial on their parenting journey.


Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services): I am informed that: The Andrews Labor Government is delivering on its commitment to provide more support for new Victorian mums and dads with a $213.7 million investment in a range of new parenting supports, including the expansion of specialist Early Parenting Centres from the current three to a total of ten. The new Early Parenting Centres will more than triple the capacity of these much needed services and will be available to all Victorians families with children aged 0–4 who require specialist early parenting supports. The Western Metropolitan area will benefit from a brand new Early Parenting Centre facility to be established in Wyndham—one of seven new facilities to be built. In addition to Wyndham, new centres will be built in the high growth suburbs of Casey, Whittlesea and Frankston, and in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, providing easier access for regional and rural families who have not to date had the benefit of having residential parenting services outside of metropolitan Melbourne. The initiative will also include a major redevelopment and expansion of the Tweddle Child and Family Health Service in Footscray and the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Noble Park. Our government’s investment will triple the number of early parenting centres available to families across Victoria. Their services will be available to all Victorians requiring specialist early parenting supports. In addition to these early parenting centres, other initiatives funded in the Budget that will support all Victorian parents include Baby Bundles for all first-time parents, additional first-time parent groups, additional home-based sleep support for 7,000 vulnerable families and an expansion of the 24 hour Maternal and Child Health Line with specialists in sleep and settling issues. The Department of Health and Human Services has commenced work on the planning and design of the expanded Early Parenting Centre service network, including development of a consistent model of care for the new and existing services. Input from local stakeholders, especially from parents themselves, will be critical to shaping each of the new services to best meet the needs and preferences of local communities. This input will be sought at a number of points throughout the planning and development process. Engagement with past users of existing centres, together with other parents, will take place shortly as part of the model of care development. Further engagement with families and service providers in some of the specific localities designated for new centres, including in Wyndham, will commence later this year as part of the detailed planning for these facilities.