Becoming a new parent is a challenging time but add bushfires and a pandemic, and anxiety levels can quickly spiral out of control.
Access to family members may be impossible due to COVID lockdowns and travelling to outreach and support services can be difficult due to travel restrictions.
However, a new family care centre at Moruya aims to help new and isolated parents by offering access to a range of specialist early parenting services including breastfeeding support, infant settling, toddler behaviour and perinatal anxiety and depression.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance said a partnership with the NSW Government, Gidget Foundation Australia and Tresillian Family Care Centres would provide local support to expectant and new parents across the region.
Mr Constance said up to 50 per cent of mums whose babies have sleeping or feeding issues, suffer from post-natal anxiety and depression.
“These amazing centres have Tresillian nurses and a Gidget Foundation perinatal mental health clinician working together to help the baby and parents,” he said.
“I know how difficult it can be adjusting to life with a newborn and having services like this close to home really will be life changing for regional families.”
Tresillian is the largest early parenting service in Australia providing advice, support and evidence-based programs to families in the early years as well as leadership and support for other agencies and organisations.
Gidget Foundation Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that helps expectant and new parents to receive specialist care through a range of programs including face-to-face and telehealth psychological counselling by experienced perinatal mental health clinicians.
Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronnie Taylor highlighted the importance of the integrated care approach and said it will ensure that counselling and parenting support are provided for local families.
“There can be no doubt that babies are a blessing, but when a baby arrives it can also be one of the most challenging times in a mother or father’s life,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Sometimes we can forget that it can be a stressful, lonely and overwhelming time caring for a newborn.
“This is all about helping families in their hour of need and services like this can have a really positive impact on the wider community as well.”
Tresillian CEO Robert Mills said Tresillian’s services had transformed the lives of thousands of families.
“We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with NSW Government and Gidget Foundation Australia to ensure every child in the Eurobodalla region has the best start in life.”
He said the new service would support parents to build confidence and enjoy the critical early years of their child’s life.
Gidget Foundation Australia CEO Arabella Gibson CEO said one in five new mums and one in 10 new dads suffer from perinatal depression and anxiety.
“When you throw into the mix, the recent experiences of natural disasters such as the bushfires and a pandemic, it makes for a highly anxious time as a new parent,” she said.
“During the last 18 months we’ve seen demand for our services increase by 127 per cent, so we are really looking forward to opening a Gidget House in the region so that we can support NSW families in the Eurobodalla to be mentally healthy and well again.”
The new centre in Moruya is expected to open within three to six months.
Meanwhile, the NSW Government is also providing free access to the SleepwellBaby app (powered by Tresillian) during the COVID-19 crisis.
NSW families struggling to cope with the stresses of a new baby or toddler now have immediate free access to specialist parenting and mental health support.
More than 40,000 people have already downloaded the app that not only helps new parents with their baby’s feeding, sleep and settling, but also helps identify and connect those experiencing distress, anxiety and depression, with critical mental health services.