Many of the parents you work with will have limited knowledge about what support is available. In many cases, a person’s cultural background or family situation may reduce their willingness or ability to ask for help.
Your work through the hub helps to build a bridge between community services and families who otherwise may not access the support they need. Once you have earned the trust of family members, particularly women, you will gradually be able to develop a picture of their situation.
As you learn more about the needs and aspirations of your hub’s families, you will be able to form partnerships with the most appropriate government and not-forprofit organisations in your local area.
Connecting families to additional support ranges from developing relationships with services and their case workers so you can refer people to them for more intensive support, to working with service providers to tailor their programs and have them delivered directly through the hub. Having external organisations delivering your hub programs also frees up more of your time to concentrate on building relationships with families and managing the overall operation of your hub.
Hubs connect with a wide range of government and not-for-profit agencies to deliver programs or make referrals across many specialised services, including:
Volunteer health professionals from The Water Well Project have been empowering women attending four community hubs in the City of Greater Dandenong by improving their health literacy.
The Water Well Project is a not-for-profit health promotion organisation with over 300 volunteer healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health specialists.
Sitting among the hub families, the volunteers engage in conversations about health and nutrition. They keep things informal and promote discussion among the group.
The project initially visited one of the Dandenong hubs and the relationship spread to other hubs in the region after hub leaders discussed the benefits of working in partnership with this organisation.
Dandenong South Primary School’s Hub Leader, Deborah Handley, says women have become more comfortable and confident about discussing health-related topics as the hub’s relationship with the health professionals has developed.
“We initially covered topics around dental health, child health and wellbeing, and healthy eating,” explains Deborah. “However, as the year progressed the women’s confidence grew. They started sharing their stories and concerns with the volunteers and asking directly for additional topics to be covered.”
In the last few months, sessions have focussed on mental health, contraception and women’s health, cervical and breast cancers and other specific women’s issues. “One woman confided in me after one session that she wanted to know how to stop having babies,” Deborah says. “And another mother shared that she had never really discussed her own health without being pregnant before. Topics that I would have been cautious about including in the early stages of our partnership are now being requested and embraced by our families.
“It’s been great to witness the women taking ownership of their own health and recognising that the key to helping keep their family healthy, is maintaining their own health.”
Aneza organised for a local service provider to deliver information sessions for women who are newly arrived so they understand their rights – particularly in relation to family violence – and the support available to them in such situations.
This initiative has reached over 70 families and gives them access to a support worker who is outposted at the hub. This means women who have nominated that they require early intervention and assistance in relation to family violence can now receive direct support from a qualified case worker who is based at the hub.
Michaelle is often called on to support people when they are at breaking point and in the midst of a financial crisis. They are usually struggling to pay electricity, gas and other household bills; as well as parking and traffic fines.
Instead of dealing with this herself, Michelle refers families to Centrelink, which she has found to be very responsive. Centrelink can provide emergency relief support and follow that up with ongoing financial counselling to help families manage their household budgets.