3. Connect

Get to know your hub families

How many jobs actually encourage you to stop and chat with someone over a cup of tea or coffee? Well, this one does; in fact, we think it’s a key part of every hub leader’s role.

Relationships are at the heart of a successful hub. And building authentic relationships requires spending time getting to know people. Giving quality time to a parent, even when you’re busy, is one of the best ways to make them feel valued and build trust. It is also important to continually engage with families, informally and formally, to find out their passions and interests, and what they want from their hub.

When asked what advice they would give new hub leaders, existing hub leaders speak about the importance of spending time building connections with families.

Here are some of their examples of what works best:

  • Be at the school gate each morning to chat with parents as they drop off their children. If the weather’s bad, visit a prep classroom at that time instead.
  • Drop in to the school canteen to chat with the parents working there.
  • Attend meetings of the parents committee and get to know each member informally.
  • Use the ‘We Can’ visual consultation game to find out what families are interested in and discover the strengths and skills they can share at the hub.
  • Put on some food and invite families to have conversations with each other using some of the community asset mapping tools on our website. Extra tip: this is a great way to get people in the mood for volunteering.
  • Use appreciative enquiry questions to learn about the strengths, interests and passions of your families.
  • Map out their interests, skills and needs to make sure you understand parents’ priorities.
  • Wherever possible, delegate program delivery to trusted service providers and volunteers. This will free up time for you to focus on building relationships and being strategic about how your hub develops.
  • View every parent as someone who has something valuable to contribute to your hub.
  • Remember, if people trust you and you help them see the opportunity, they will get involved.

The ‘We Can’ card game is a visual tool you can use to overcome language barriers and uncover each parent’s strengths and skills. Download the guidelines; capacity cards and corner cards.

Find out about how to use the ‘World café’ technique and other ways to start discussions about what is important for your hub community.

Lack of child minding is a big barrier to engagement. If parents understand that their children are welcome to attend and that there is free child minding, then it’s much easier to get families to join an activity.


“We assume too much about families. So I have a DNA policy— Do Not Assume. Do not assume parents can understand, read or write English. Do not assume they can read their mother language. Do not assume they have families or friends to rely on. Do not assume families know about services outside the hub.”


“Be very clear from the start that the hub is a place for everybody. You’ve got to have a clear idea of what the codes of conduct will be. Be clear that the hub is a caring and inclusive environment where families can discuss individual differences and negotiate responsibly, but they cannot dictate to others.”

Encourage new families to attend a meet and greet or coffee and chat to get to know the family.

Helping people make a contribution

Victorian hub leader, St Albans Heights Primary School Hub

“In our busy roles, let’s never lose sight of the importance of informal engagement and persistence.

Helping parents to recognise their personal capacity and skills is extremely important and providing the opportunity for them to share is very valuable. Language, or language confidence, can be a barrier to inclusion, but in a supportive, caring environment, many barriers can be overcome.

A family who are asylum seekers on community-based detention orders recently enrolled at our school. The mother was described by her caseworker as extremely depressed and with poor English.

I continued to engage informally with this mum for a couple of months, encouraging her to attempt English and providing feedback and encouragement that her language was comprehensible.

After three months, the mum agreed to attend the parents group meeting in the hub and began attending weekly. The group supported and encouraged her in her English language use and when we were talking about our individual strengths and skills, she indicated she had been a personal trainer in her country of origin. This led to the mum facilitating a weekly parents exercise group, with demand for a second class.”

Watch this inspirational clip for more ideas on what day-to-day looks like in a hub. Caroline shares some great tips on how she empowers and communicates with parent.

Caroline shares with us the type of relationships hub leaders should build and why these are important.

Rania highlights the power of a smile and connecting with mothers around their care for their children.