For families in Victoria, there is a broad range of services to support and assist them, from parent education, to maternal and child healthcare, childcare, crisis support, child protection, family violence and relationship services.
Early parenting services offer support to parents from pregnancy through to a child turns four, helping with common difficulties such as feeding and sleeping problems, as well as more complex challenges.
A range of specialist support,counselling, education, and advice services are provided through early parenting centres across Victoria.
"We provide support and education to families who are experiencing some challenges within their lives, so we're working with families with children naught, or even pre-birth,through to four years of age, where we know brain development's really important, and we provide a range of services from day-stay, residential, home-visiting, to community education programs, to support young children."
Early parenting services are subsidised, and are designed to assist families needing to build their skills and confidence in caring for their infant or toddler.
"We're dealing with far more complexity with the family, and really looking at attachment and attunement, relationships within the family dynamics, to ensure the best outcomes for the infants and toddlers that we're dealing with."
Victoria's maternal and child health services monitor the health and development of your baby or toddler.
They provide 10 consultations,can provide referrals to healthcare professionals if needed, and can link you with other local families and community services.
The Maternal Child Health line is a 24 hour telephone line staffed by qualified nurses, with information, support, and guidance regarding child health, nutrition, breastfeeding, maternal and family health, and parenting.
Children and family services are inclusive of all cultures, however, there are also family and parenting services specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
"It's not just about the antenatal care, it could be around housing,financial counselling, mental health, so a range of issues, and we also provide transport, which is an essential part of the KMS Program. And you can't get that in mainstream, so that's a major barrier to people attending the services here."
Childcare services provide care and support for working families.
Finding the right childcare arrangement will depend on the length of care you need, your child's age, and the type of care you think would suit your child.
The cost of childcare depends on the type of service you choose.
You may be eligible for financial assistance from the Commonwealth government.
Contact the Department of Human Services.
As families grow and children become young adults, additional services are ready at hand across Victoria.
Many are subsidised by the government, including services for mental health and dental health, as well as other allied health services, such as physiotherapy,psychology, and dietary advice.
For information on a range of dental services, information on the child dental benefit schedule, or to find a community dental clinic, contact Dental Health Services Victoria.
As young people move into adulthood, mental health or alcohol and drugs issues may occur.
Finding someone to talk to as early as possible is important.
Starting with family is a good place, or talk to your doctor or contact a confidential phoneline or online service.
These services are free,and expert counsellors can provide valuable advice and counselling. In times of urgent family crisis, there are emergency services to assist you.
In an emergency, always call 000.
If you or someone in your family is thinking about self-harm or suicide, call Lifeline, on 13 11 14.
If you are concerned about the safety and risk of harm to a child, contact your local child protection service.
Phone numbers are available at betterhealth.vic.gov.au/childprotection.
If you are worried about the immediate safety and risk of harm to a child, that cannot safely be left until the next working day, call the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service on 13 12 78.
Child FIRST ensures that vulnerable children, young people, and their families, are linked to relevant services.
Visit the Department of Human Services website for more information and your local service.
Asylum-seekers and refugees in Victoria, including children, are able to access most health and community services funded by the Victorian government, as eligibility for most services is not determined by visa or residency status.
These services include community health services, the refugee health program,torture, and trauma counselling, and the catch-up immunisation program.
All families have different needs.
At times, for some, they can be urgent, while for others, longer-term help is needed.
The Victorian health system offers a range of services to meet these needs.
For more information, visit: betterhealth.vic.gov.au/family.