Family services get $9.9m boost

Latrobe Valley families will have access to a range of supports as part of a $9.9 million state government Supporting Families of the Latrobe Valley investment package.

State Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos announced the funding package and subsequent initiatives during a visit to Morwell on Tuesday.

Initiatives funded as part of the package include early parenting sessions and support, an additional 10 hours of enhanced maternal and child health services for eligible families and the delivery of flexible Latrobe Community Connect Packages for struggling families to more easily engage.

The new funding will also build on work with the local Aboriginal community to establish and operate a gathering place in Morwell to operate community-led services.

“We know that the early years are the most critical ones for the formative development of early learning skills for children,” Ms Mikakos said.

“Firstly, we are going to provide more parent support for all families for their children from zero through to four years of age so they can get access to parenting programs on things like sleeping and settling, babies’ nutritional issues, mental health issues for parents, all those kinds of extra supports that families need to give their children the best start to their lives.”

The minister said the state government was “going to go above and beyond for families in the Latrobe Valley” through the provision of the 10 additional hours of support to parents who needed it.

“This will mean more contact visits and services … but also more home visits for those families who need that additional support,” she said.

Ms Mikakos said the flexible Latrobe Community Connect Packages would help struggling families connect better with community life.

“We don’t want children missing out on important activities, like participating in a local sporting club, because their families are doing it tough,” she said.

“These packages will be able to pay for things like registration in a local sporting club.

“They will be able to pay for things like sporting uniforms, it will be able to pay for a parent to attend a job interview, to pay for the transport costs of getting to a job interview, to be able to pay for things like getting a new outfit, an appropriate outfit to go to a job interview.

“So we are going to help families in the Latrobe Valley to be better engaged in community life.”

Member for eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said the package would “create new jobs in the region and provide greater support to families and children in the Latrobe Valley”.