Barwon Early Parenting Centre opens

June 24, 2024 BY

Lara MP Ella George (first from left) and Bellarine MP Alison Marchant (first from right) with Blair Taylor and Courtney Asser and their daughter Delilah in the Barwon Early Parenting Centre. Photo: SUPPLIED

NEW mums and dads across Geelong, the Bellarine and Surf Coast can now get access to the specialised support they need to care for their little ones closer to home.

The doors to the new Barwon Early Parenting Centre (EPC) in North Geelong officially opened last week.

The facility is operated by Barwon Health as part of the McKellar Centre at 45-95 Ballarat Road.

Designed to feel like a home away from home, the centre will support families with children up to four years of age, giving them the advice and care they need, including support with sleep and settling, feeding and extra care for babies and toddlers with additional needs.

Sleep and settling is one of the biggest challenges faced by new parents, with around half of Victorian parents who use EPCs reporting problems with their child’s sleep. This can lead to not only post-natal depression, isolation and stress for parents, but also affect a child’s behavioural, mental and physical development.

Families are supported by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals including registered nurses, registered midwives, maternal and child health qualified nurses, enrolled nurses, psychologists/psychiatrists, play therapists, early parenting practitioners and social workers.

The North Geelong facility has 10 residential family units and four day-stay spaces, ensuring families of all sizes can get access to both short-term and week-long supports.

The EPC is also focused on strengthening partnerships and referral pathways with key local support services, including Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, mental health, LGBTIQ family support, disability and family violence support services.

It has already started the important work of triaging families who require early parenting support, with day-stay programs to begin later this month and overnight stays from next month.

Families can get access to the Barwon EPC either through self-referral directly via Barwon Health, or through a referral from a general practitioner or maternal and child health nurse.

Lara MP Ella George and Bellarine MP Alison Marchant were among the dignitaries at last week’s official opening.

“We know that sleep and settling can be some of the biggest challenges for new parents to face. This new EPC run by Barwon Health will ensure more specialised support to local mums and dads closer to home,” Ms George said

Barwon is the eighth EPC to operate in Victoria, with a ninth to open in Bendigo later this year.The Victorian government has committed to deliver 12 new and upgraded EPCs as part of a $148 million package to expand Victoria’s early parenting service network.

“We know how important it is for kids to get the best start in life,” Minister for Children Lizzie Blandthorn said.

“Our EPCs are helping ensure the best health, wellbeing and developmental outcomes, while also supporting parents in the early days.”

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