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100 years of maternal and child health

Babies play on the floor at new parents group in Mount Alexander Shire

It’s been 100 years since the introduction of Maternal and Child Health Services in Victoria. Local services continue today to help give babies and children the best start in life.

Friday 30 May 2017

It’s been 100 years since the first Maternal and Child Health service was introduced into Victoria. This important service has had an incredible impact on helping to give babies and children the best start in life.

In Mount Alexander Shire the service provides support to families in parenting, health and development, wellbeing and safety, social support, early childhood immunisation, referrals and linkage with local communities and other service providers.

“Our aim is to promote and achieve the best healthy outcomes for children and their families,” said Jenny Balmer, Maternal and Child Health Team Leader, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“Helping with the early detection of physical, emotional or social factors that impact children and their families and prevention of disease and illness through immunisation and education are key components of what we do,” said Ms Balmer.

Every year the Maternal and Child Health Team in Castlemaine receive around 150 birth notices, sees around 800 children and provides 1,300 key age and stage assessments. They also provide 1,500 immunisations.

“The best part of the job is working with families and seeing parents gain confidence in their own knowledge and parenting abilities,” said Ms Balmer.

“I also love to see children grow into healthy confident young people. It is always wonderful to hear of children we have worked with now at high school and doing well. The team offers appointments at the Lyttleton Street Maternal and Child Health Centre, home visits across the shire, Monday drop in sessions and new parent groups.

“We do our best to offer clients a welcoming, supportive and helpful service. We also offer a quiet space for parents to pop in and relax or feed and change baby," said Ms Balmer.

Ms Balmer said the introduction of the state wide Key Ages and Stages Program has been a big change since she started in the role in 2003.

“The program means no matter where you live in Victoria Maternal and Child Health nurses give clients the same information and messages. Another change is the increased support to work with families that are more vulnerable. We now liaise more closely with Early Years’ service providers to help families receive the most appropriate support,” she said.

The Maternal and Child Health service operates from 15 Lyttleton Street in Castlemaine. The free service is provided by Council in partnership with the Department of Education and Training. To get in touch with the service or make an appointment phone 5472 1364.

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