In Logan, QLD, around 500 – 600 women each year had little to no contact with support or healthcare services care during their pregnancy. In response to these poor maternal health outcomes, Logan Maternal and Child Health Hubs were designed in collaboration with the Logan Together initiative to deliver services to the community. Since 2018, they have been improving the lives of hundreds of women, children and families.
Our Early Years Centre in Browns Plains is thrilled to be one of the four hubs that supports the local community. We speak to Marisa, our Manager of Child and Family Services in Queensland, who tells us more about the service and her experiences helping young women.
Maternal and child health hubs
The city of Logan is located 25km south of Brisbane. It is home to a large and culturally diverse community, with significant vulnerability and disadvantage compared to the state average.
The Maternal and Child Health hubs address a community need to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies, including access to antenatal care. These hubs provide a community-led, place-based response based on cultural values. Starting with a co-designed process involving 500 women from diverse backgrounds, and over 20 organisations, these hubs aim to build the conditions for positive change.
Each hub focuses on a particular area of expertise for expecting mothers throughout their pregnancy and into the early stages of life with their new baby. Village Connect, based in Slacks Creek, is led by and caters to the Pasifika and Maori community. Jarjumbora Hub focuses on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, whilst the Access Hub services Logan’s diverse CALD community.
Our Browns Plains Early Years Centre, in partnership with the Metro South Hospital and Health Service (MSHHS), focuses on young expectant mothers aged 21 and under, but our services are also open to anyone who is expecting a child. The Child and Family Support services work to keep children in safe home environments and assist parents in developing parenting skills, ensuring they are linked with appropriate services to support their mental health, wellbeing and overall life. This also includes supporting families to access material items for their baby, Centrelink, educational classes ad building their network before the baby arrives.
Expectant mothers who span multiple groups are welcome to receive service from any of the community hubs that they feel comfortable with.
“We are so thrilled to be part of this initiative,” says Marisa. “Supporting families and mothers on their parenting journey ensures that their child can get the best start to life.”
“Many families who access the maternity hub with their midwife continue to stay connected with us and attend supported playgroups or receive targeted support after the birth of their child.”
The Child and Family team at The Benevolent Society work in partnership with the Midwifery Group Practice Team, part of the Metro South Health and Hospital service. There are six midwives allocated within the Browns Plains Early Years Centre who provide support and encourage expecting mothers to attend the recommended number of antenatal visits, improve pregnancy outcomes for the mother and baby as well as better connect with health, community and social support services that they need.
“Getting it right at the beginning of life has profound and long-term effects on the mother-child relationship, family wellbeing and life trajectory, so we are incredibly honoured to be on this journey together with mothers. We’re helping to create intergenerational change,” explains Marisa.
“The Early Years Centre provides a space where all mothers can feel safe and respected during pregnancy, labour and post-birth.”
For many women, the culturally safe community care model that the Early Years Centre adopts can be life-changing.
“Larger central hospitals or clinical settings can be uncomfortable for women unfamiliar with these settings, so a community based setting they are already familiar with increases engagement and the likelihood that they will continue to attend appointments,” says Marisa.
Helping young mothers and their families
Transitioning to motherhood is daunting for many young women, particularly those who have been involved with the child safety system as children. Marisa says that when these women become pregnant, they may be considered at risk and need support to maintain their family and avoid having their child removed.
“I remember one young woman who had previous substance misuse, poor mental health, limited family support and a history of domestic and family violence. She’d begun self-harming and was advised by the Department of Child Safety that her child would be removed once born.”
“This risk prompted her to engage with our antenatal care. With the support of our midwife and staff, this young woman accessed other services to address the child safety concerns, including a psychologist to help her manage her mental health issues, and she also arranged for a Domestic Violence Protection Order. Those positive steps helped her create a safe and stable home environment before her child was born and she is now accessing our child development services with her little one.”
Other services offered at the Browns Plains Early Years Centre are:
- Child health assessments, health checks and immunisations
- Supported playgroups
- Parenting programs including 1-1 and group programs
- Speech and language therapist
- Child psychologist services via Queensland Health
- Child and family support service
- Housing assistance
- Mental health support
- Domestic and family violence support
To find out more about the Browns Plains Early Years Centre, please visit our page here or call our friendly support centre at 1800 236 762.