Save the date: two-day forum on supporting parents with a mental illness

Learn more about evidence-based practice in supporting families where a parent has a mental illness at this two-day forum in Melbourne, March 1 and 2. Key international researchers in the field will present their latest work and the Parenting Research Centre will present findings from a major program, Let’s Talk about Children, that has engaged more than 300 Victorian families.

Let’s Talk about Children is a strengths-based program for parents attending mental health and family support services. During our four-year randomised controlled trial of the program we worked with more than 30 organisations and trained more than 500 adult mental health practitioners and family service workers, covering most regions of Victoria. At the forum we will highlight outcomes for parents and children of the program and share what we have learned about the implementation process in this service sector.

The March forum – Best Practice/Next Practice – is hosted by the Parenting Research Centre, Monash University, the Victorian State Government and the Bouverie Centre. It will also include:

  • A showcase of the system change achieved through the Victorian Government FaPMI (Families where a parent has a mental illness) program
  • Panel discussions on implementation issues and practice-based evidence.

Download the flyer or register your interest online.

New National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health goes live

Emerging Minds: the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is now live and available to support clinical and non-clinical professionals working with families dealing with child mental health issues. We’re excited to join the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian National University as partners in this initiative, which has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

The Emerging Minds Workforce Centre website will act as a gateway to free evidence-based resources, information, news and innovative online training. The web hub www.emergingminds.com.au will be updated regularly with new information and resources as materials and courses are in constant development.

A team of child mental health consultants will also work at a state and regional level to help organisations, team leaders and local champions use the workforce development learning products and resources it creates.

Emerging Minds recognises that the best way to support infant and child mental health is through early intervention and prevention. This is why the Emerging Minds Workforce Centre will focus on building the capacity and strength of the workforce – so professionals can better support parents, who in turn will support the mental health outcomes of infants and children.

  • Explore the training opportunities already available at Emerging Minds 

Raising Children Network reaches 10-year milestone

2018 marks the Raising Children Network’s second decade of providing trusted, evidence-based information for Australian parents.

Raising Children Network held its 10th birthday celebrations late last year at Parliament House Canberra. The event, launched by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birminham, showcased achievements to an audience of more than 60 MPs, policymakers and colleagues from NGOs and industry.

In the past year alone the site has had more than 14 million visitors and produced 700 new and updated resources to ensure the information provided to families stays relevant. New articles include resources for same sex parents and families dealing with domestic violence.

Skill-building program a beacon for vulnerable families

An evidence-based parenting program being piloted in Australia through the NSW Department of Family and Community Services is showing great potential in keeping vulnerable families together.

SafeCare® was developed a decade ago by the National SafeCare Training & Research Center, Georgia State University, and has been shown to reduce child neglect and harm by 26 per cent. It is now being piloted in seven sites across NSW. The Parenting Research Centre is working with the Department and trial sites to implement the program, which has already been adopted in the US, Britain, Canada, Spain and Israel.

More than 60 NSW families have already taken part in the Blacktown, Nepean and Cumberland areas of Sydney.

Building skills

“SafeCare® is not just about giving advice. It’s about teaching specific skills to address parenting challenges and having the support to master a skill,” said Annette Michaux, a Director at the Parenting Research Centre.

"It really has potential to keep families together safely and help parents with quite complex needs. Raising children is a skill which needs to be learned. It doesn't just come naturally and for some of us learning that skill is a little bit harder.”

Ms Michaux said the program was backed by rigorous research and had been tested over many years with promising results for families where children were at risk of child abuse and neglect.

One-on-one parent interaction

SafeCare® trains practitioners to support parents one-on-one in enhancing their positive interactions with children, keeping their homes safe and improving their children’s health.

Over the past year we began working with the National SafeCare Training & Research Centre in the US to become an accredited SafeCare training and coaching organisation as part of the NSW implementation of SafeCare. Once our staff are accredited, these agencies will be able to access local, high-quality SafeCare coaching support.

Inquiry submission: supporting new parents and babies in NSW

Parenting is a skill that can be learned and the vast majority of parents are capable of parenting well, given the right support, our submission to the NSW Government inquiry on support for new parents and babies says.

By the ‘right’ support we mean effective, accessible parenting support. We argue this kind of support is central to creating widespread improvements in outcomes for new Australian parents and their children.

The NSW inquiry – currently being conducted by the Legislative Assembly Committee on Community Services – will focus on ways to improve physical health, mental health and child protection outcomes for new parents and babies. Models of support for new parents in other jurisdictions and the role of technology in enhancing support services will also be examined.

Parenting vs parent support

In our submission, the Parenting Research Centre makes the distinction between parent support – which aims to improve children’s outcomes by enhancing parent wellbeing – and parenting support, which aims to improve child outcomes by influencing the nature and quality of parent-child interactions and relationships.

“Although parenting has a profound impact on child development, parenting support is often overlooked when considering how to improve child outcomes,” the submission says.

We contend that by building parents’ capacity, they become more empowered, confident and autonomous – and capable of dealing with future challenges. And our submission highlights a way forward to ensuring that parenting support is both effective and accessible.

Parenting research

“In the context of finite resources – and considering the potential for harm from ineffective interventions – it is important that all forms of parenting support are informed by the best available evidence,” the submission says.

It also notes that there is a mismatch between what the research says about parenting and what the public generally thinks about parenting. While much of the public discourse about parenting is based on the assumption that parents are ‘born not made’, research shows the opposite is true and that, in fact, parenting is a learned set of skills.