smalltalk offshoot named as finalist in Victorian Early Years Awards

Brimbank Council’s innovative extension of the Parenting Research Centre’s smalltalk initiative has been recognised as a finalist at the 2017 Victorian Early Years Awards. The awards were held in October by the Victorian Government to recognise services and early childhood professionals who are leaders in strengthening the services delivered to children and families.

The council developed an extension of smalltalk called Still Talking, which was designed to build on the progress made by families who had already taken part in the smalltalk supported playgroups. smalltalk was developed by the Parenting Research Centre as a set of evidence-based strategies that help parents - particularly those experiencing disadvantage - to build their confidence to enhance their young children’s learning at home.

It is delivered within supported playgroups in local government areas in Victoria. Funded facilitators convene the groups and coordinate activities such as reading together and engaging in interesting activities so that parents can gain skills in an informal way.

Brimbank Council’s smalltalk Program Co-coordinator Julie McKenzie said the motivation behind Still Talking was to ensure families who had made gains through smalltalk continued to benefit and did not “fall through the net”.

“We want to tap in before we lose them – we want them to increase in confidence and know that they are being respectfully recognised for the positive impact they are having on their home environment.”

Senior Implementation Specialist at the Parenting Research Centre Vince Lagioia agreed: “Maintaining connections with community playgroups can be difficult if families are vulnerable and facing challenges so what Brimbank has done with Still Talking is very forward thinking.

smalltalk itself is also attracting more interest as federal funding requirements are driving an increased demand for evidence-based programs – and we are fielding an increasing number of enquiries from agencies.”

Unlike smalltalk, Still Talking is not a facilitated parent group, Ms McKenzie said. But a smalltalk coordinator does check in with groups to offer brief guidance or support.

The benefits for the families are many, including that they share a connection through smalltalk and can continue to have the best chance at building solid and beneficial interactions with their children.

“We are honoured to be a finalist in these awards because they highlight the importance of our work in supporting parents to build their capacity and their confidence,” Ms McKenzie said.

Brimbank Council is now talking to other local government areas interested in replicating the Still Talking model.

Parenting Today in Victoria study launch

RSVPs are now closed for this event. Thank you for your interest in our event.

If you have registered to attend, we look forward to seeing you. Otherwise, you might like to subscribe to our free newsletter and keep in touch with our news.

On 28 November, we will launch the Parenting Today in Victoria study which shows what Victoria’s parents are thinking, feeling and doing about parenting today.

The Hon. Jenny Mikakos MP, Minister for Families and Children, Youth Affairs and Early Childhood Education, will open the event, to be chaired by Parenting Research Centre Board Chair Mr Tass Mousaferiadis.

Parenting Research Centre CEO Warren Cann and Principal Research Specialist Dr Catherine Wade will be joined by a panel of leading experts, who will discuss the importance of the survey results for policy and for children: Professor Jane Fisher, Director, Jean Hailes Research Unit, Clinical Professor David Bennett, Department of Adolescent Medicine, Westmead Children's Hospital; and Ms Kim Little, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Portfolio, Department of Education and Training.

Policymakers, researchers and practitioners in the health, education and welfare sectors will hear about key findings from the comprehensive parent survey, including that 91% said they had confidence in themselves as a parent and 28% felt they were sometimes too critical of their children.

Date and time
Tuesday 28 November 2017
7.15 am – 9.30 am

The Cube
Federation Square
Flinders Street
Melbourne CBD VIC 3000

Refreshments: light breakfast supplied; if you have special dietary needs, please let us know
Enquiries: Maria Battaglia or phone (03) 8660 3589
No cost: admission is free but places are limited

Download the invitation

Workshop: Using competence-based models for parents with learning difficulties

Professionals interested in developing their knowledge and skills in working with parents with intellectual disabilities are invited to a full-day Parenting Research Centre workshop with international expert Professor Maurice Feldman.

Learn about the Step-by-Step Parenting Program, an empirically-supported, competence-based model for parents with learning difficulties and their children. The workshop will also cover:

  • How to provide a comprehensive parenting assessment using a contextual model that examines external and internal influences on effective parenting.
  • How to apply the model to assessments that include direct observation of parenting skills.
  • Practical application of the content using a case study and observational parenting checklists.

Click here to register and to secure your place

Cost: $127.99

Date: Wednesday 29 November 2017
Time: 9.00am – 5.00am


Rydges on Swanston
701 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Refreshments: Morning, afternoon tea and lunch provided

Registration closing date: Monday 27 November 2017

Enquiries: Cathy Grant at P: (03) 8660 3500 or E:

Brisbane event: Contemporary trends in parenting support

RSVPs are now closed for this event. Thank you for your interest in our event.

If you have registered to attend, we look forward to seeing you. Otherwise, you might like to subscribe to our free newsletter and keep in touch with our news.

Policymakers, researchers and practitioners in the health, education and welfare sectors will hear about the latest trends in parenting support from Parenting Research Centre leaders in Brisbane next month.

Our free Brisbane breakfast event, Contemporary trends in parenting support, will be held on 9 November and will cover current thinking on parenting support and its importance to policy development and service delivery.

This event will interest policymakers, researchers and practitioners who are committed to creating new and improved evidence-based pathways to help families reach their goals.

Acting CEO Ms Annette Michaux and Executive Director of the Raising Children Network Associate Professor Julie Green will share their insights on:

  • ways of thinking about parenting support
  • types of parenting support practice and platforms
  • use of evidence in improving outcomes for children.

Admission is free but places are limited so register today.

Date and time
Thursday 9 November 2017
7.30am – 9.00am

Mercure Brisbane
85-87 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4003

Refreshments: light breakfast supplied; please advise us of any special dietary needs
Registration closing date: Friday 27 October 2017
Enquiries: Maria Battaglia or phone (03) 8660 3589

Download the invitation
Register now

Perceptions of parenting: further research

The 2016 report Perceptions of parenting by the FrameWorks Institute mapped the gaps between expert and public understandings of effective parenting.

FrameWorks will conduct further research to identify how to frame issues about parenting and parenting support in a way that resonates with both policymakers and the general public.

We have commissioned this research in partnership with New South Wales Government Department of Social Services and of Family and Community Services, Victorian Government Department of Education and Training, and The Benevolent Society.

The new research will investigate how to address public thinking about parenting and child development. It will look more specifically at how to build public understanding of effective parenting and support. It will also suggest practical guidelines on how to effect changes at a policy level that can better support parents in Australia.

Dr Nat Kendall-Taylor, FrameWorks CEO, recently gave a TedX talk on the processes used to investigate how people make decisions, and how understanding culture and behavioural science can be used to communicate complex issues and shape policy.