The Caroline Chisholm Society provides the following services (click to read more):
Material Aid - this is only available at our Moonee Ponds site.
Pregnancy counselling and support
This service provides telephone counselling, referral and advice related to a number of key areas. Typically the calls relate to a variety of issues including: pregnancy counselling and support, post natal support and adjustment to early parenting, financial management, grief counselling, housing or legal issues, parenting, child protection, and callers seeking information about our service and other services.
The telephone counselling and support line provides the caller with an opportunity to discuss issues in an open and honest way, without the fear of embarrassment, and with the assurance of complete confidentiality. Experienced workers facilitate the exploration of issues, provide a range of strategies for dealing with various situations or problems, and if required, seek further assistance on behalf of the caller. For many families, the value of a single session or short term counselling service cannot be overstated. Adjusting to parenthood, or a change in circumstances, means that they need new strategies for the family to move forward.
This response provides a listening ear for the distressed new mum, support and strategies for the dad who is new to weekend access arrangements, parenting strategies for when the two-year-old’s tantrum behaviour becomes a challenge. Short term casework acknowledges that many families do not need longer term interventions, but rather some families are able to integrate new ideas and strategies competently once given the opportunity to discuss their concerns and needs.
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Caroline Chisholm Society provides non-directive, non-judgemental, independent pregnancy counselling which explores all pregnancy options. The Society employs a team of qualified professionals to provide counselling and support for pregnant women. All staff adhere to the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) Code of Ethics (2005). The Society provides regular supervision of all staff to ensure good practice, and is committed to women being supported with honest, clear information about pregnancy options, and the provision of sufficient time and information to make an informed decision which is most appropriate to the individual woman’s circumstances.
If a woman requests a termination, CCS staff inform her that we are not medically qualified to provide advice about termination, and that as a pregnancy support agency we are to provide counselling regarding options. Those choosing termination are encouraged to seek further information and advice from their GP. Throughout the counselling process, staff encourage the woman to explore her feelings related to the pregnancy, and discuss in depth with her, other issues which may include practical and family supports, financial situation, poverty, safety, and specific cultural needs.
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The Caroline Chisholm Society was established in 1969 to provide practical support for pregnant women and young families. 38 years later, the need for practical and material support continues to be strong. The economic situation of families coming to the Society means that parents often struggle to provide more than basic housing and food for their children. The importance of meeting these basic needs cannot be overstated. The gift of a bassinette, a pram or simply some clothes and a bundle of nappies is often met with a tearfully stated, heartfelt thank you from a mum or dad who is finding the pressures of coping with a new or additional child quite challenging.
The Caroline Chisholm Society cleans, repairs and safety checks goods and clothing prior to giving them away. In the past year, the Society gave out over $225,000 worth of goods, free of charge, to assist families with their need to provide the basics of food, clothing and shelter for their children. The material aid service also provides an opportunity for the Society’s worker to assess how a family is adjusting to its new parental responsibilities and offer further parenting support and counselling where required.
We thank the many people in the community who assist us to provide this vital service, through the donation of goods they no longer require and the knitting and sewing of lovely baby and toddler clothing. We also thank those who donate money for the purchase of goods such as formula and nappies. The Society particularly thanks the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund and The Jack Brockhoff Foundation for their support of this service to the community. The value of these goods in terms of emotional and practical care for families is immeasurable.
Can you help?
We need donations of baby goods and clothing in good and safe condition to give to pregnant women and families. We accept a range of nursery equipment and baby clothes including:
- High chairs
- Baby baths
- Baby & toddler clothes (sizes 0000 – 4)
- Maternity clothes
We are NOT able to accept the following:
- Cots and cot mattresses
- Baby walkers
- Goods that are broken or do not meet Australian Safety Standards
- Electrical items
- Soft toys
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Family Services Program
Our core business provides a comprehensive prevention and early intervention service for pregnant women and families with children under 6. We provide pregnancy options counselling, emotional support and counselling throughout pregnancy, and pregnancy grief counselling. We provide support and education throughout pregnancy to develop skills in preparation for parenthood. We also provide family support as an early intervention to assist families in their transition to parenthood.
Our pregnancy and family support program provides a range of flexible services for pregnant women and families with at least one child under primary school age, including:
- Pregnancy counselling and support throughout pregnancy,
- Grief counselling for pregnancy loss,
- Family support,
- Casework and counselling,
- Case coordination, and
- Community information, advocacy and referral.
The Casework Program at CCS is in great demand and is a vital component of our work in supporting families in times of need. Casework is usually undertaken in the home. We work with families on issues such as household management, child development, parenting strategies, budgeting, legal matters, providing practical and emotional support for families in a holistic way.
For families within the casework program, we find that we are regularly working to alleviate the impact on the parent/child relationship of factors such as domestic violence, relationship breakdown, financial difficulties, family conflicts due to the stresses of raising a family, postnatal depression, pregnancy, and loss and grief. The outreach component of casework continues to be an important element in engaging families who are otherwise isolated and unable to access other services.
Our work with families may be short term, but we are finding that more frequently, the complex and high-risk nature of the problems facing families means that we are involved with a family for a long period. Issues relating to parenting such as: managing children’s behaviour, setting boundaries and limits, understanding children’s behaviour and under-developed parent skills continue to be high, and have guided the Society’s planning for groups this year and into the future. Likewise, the high number of indicators pointing to mental health issues such as: depression, maternal anxiety and stresses related to birthing and the ante-natal period, and post natal depression have guided the planning of therapeutic groups.
The Family Services Program is offered across Melbourne’s North Western Region, with outreach workers based in Sunbury, Laverton, Melton and Bacchus Marsh. We work closely and collaboratively with other agencies and health care providers to ensure the best quality services for families. The Caroline Chisholm Society is a Registered Community Service Organisation under the Victorian Children Youth and Families Act 2005.
Early Childhood Development Project
The Early Childhood Development Project is a statewide pilot funded by the Department of Human Services and targets vulnerable children aged 0-5 years. The project consists of two staff who cover the Western Suburbs' Local Government areas of Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Hobson’s Bay and Wyndham. The Project is auspiced at the Caroline Chisholm Society Moonee Ponds office.
The Project aims to strengthen and enhance the relationships between child FIRST/family services and early years' services. The Project's objectives are twofold; to strengthen the pathways for vulnerable children and their families to access early years services and to remain engaged. Secondly, to enhance service delivery through capacity building strategies such as secondary consultations, individualised care coordination and educational opportunities.
Through an extensive consultation process across all five local Government areas, Project Coordinators were able to develop strategies to engage vulnerable families and identify numerous strategic partnerships. The Early childhood Development Project Coordinators commenced the implementation of a sub-group of cross sector professionals recruited from the Maribyrnong Early Years Alliance and the Child Family Services Alliance to develop relationships, share information and enhance referral pathways for vulnerable families in the west. The group named the Western Vulnerable Children’s Network continues to secure participation from Council and Government representatives within the catchment area and creates opportunities for Council and Community services to interact.
Conversations were held with several training providers regarding educational opportunities to better prepare early years professionals to assess and identify vulnerable families. Sector training gaps have since been identified and integrated to reflect in local training calendars and maintain the focus on capacity building. In contrast, child family services began to utilise the expertise of Senior Coordinators regarding secondary consultations. Consultations included child care benefit enquiries, entry to early years services and advocacy for vulnerable families when accessing services.
Identifying resources that both sectors have recognized as providing opportunity to build capacity has become realized, such as assisting child family services to navigate the early years referral process and enabling the early years sector to engage and instigate having difficult conversations with Parents. These resources were officially launched on 17the September 2012 by Child Safety Commissioner Mr Bernie Geary and circulated across both sectors.
The Early Childhood Development project ceases on the 28th September 2012 however the Caroline Chisholm Society continues to reinforce the Project’s ethos of collaborative partnerships, sector capacity building and the promotion well being for each and every child. If you would like further information regarding the Western Vulnerable Children’s network, please contact the Caroline Chisholm Society on 9361 7000. back to top
Child Development & Trauma Guide
Having Difficult Conversations with Parents
Early Years Services Brochure
CCS is committed to the provision of group work with a creative approach to supporting parents within their community. Group work at Caroline Chisholm Society is responsive to the needs of the families who approach us for support. The Society offers a range of Parenting and Post Natal Depression groups in a variety of locations across Melbourne’s Western corridor. We are well recognised for our comprehensive Post Natal Depression program, offering a holistic range of support for women who are experiencing post-natal depression and their families, including individual casework and counselling support and therapeutic group work. The participants are given support within the group environment to discuss their individual experiences of PND and to explore strategies for dealing with it.
The supportive environment of the group relieves the sense of isolation these women often feel when alone with their children. It provides a place for them to open up and talk about how they are feeling. Support is also given to participants individually, especially where mothers are feeling anxious and concerned around their adjustment to parenthood.
Parenting groups focus on topics such as behaviour management, child development, self-esteem, learnings from family of origin, nutrition, healthy living, communication, time-out strategies and parent self care. The focus at all times is on the development of better parenting styles, skills and strategies that will translate into safer and healthier families.
In both the Parenting groups and the Post Natal Depression groups, participants find it valuable to discuss what their parents experienced in raising their families. It is interesting to see the changes of lifestyle that are affecting parenting today, for example the changes in social networks, resulting in less support for women at home with their children; not knowing your next door neighbour; families living great distances apart; lack of community linkages; all of this impacts upon parenting and can mean that families are more isolated.
Expectations of parenting, and what it means to be a good parent, can vary according to upbringing and cultural influences. These differences translate into different parenting styles, and so it is important to explore these issues of upbringing within the group and help mums and dads to establish new patterns that embrace a shared style of parenting.
Evaluation of the Parenting and Post Natal Depression Group Work Programs has shown that participants gain a better understanding of their children and themselves, learn new and valuable parenting skills and enjoy the support of new friends. Feedback from participants tells us that attending a group assists parents to gain confidence and enjoyment in being a mother or father, and to build up their network of support to help them through the more difficult days.
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The Society’s Supported Accommodation and Assistance Program (SAAP) provides short to medium term housing for vulnerable pregnant women, and families with young children. We currently have 4 properties, to which we provide intensive support services, and provide outreach to many families who require assistance due to homelessness or risk of homelessness.
Increasingly families come into the program with a range of complex needs and difficult personal situations. This causes a delay in being able to address the housing needs as the worker endeavours to address more urgent issues and problems that the family is facing, such as financial difficulties, violence, legal and medical issues and substance abuse. These issues associated with long-term homelessness further complicate a family’s ability to find stable long-term accommodation.
To create the best possible environment in which families can work on the issues that led to their homelessness, workers adopt a holistic approach, building on the individual strengths of the family members. Intensive support is provided initially and, in most cases, this level of support is continued for up to 12 months. While the individual families may have specific requirements, and goals, their common goal is the desire for safe, long term, affordable housing.
At Caroline Chisholm Society, we believe it is essential that families which have faced multiple challenges and have been homeless receive a timely response, with a high level of support to increase their chances of succeeding and breaking the cycle of homelessness.
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Volunteers Support Program
Volunteers: Our Volunteers play an integral role in the work of the Society, working across all levels of the organisation. Board members, fundraisers, knitters, material aid sorters and repairers, administrative and duty workers, all of these roles are undertaken by volunteers who display remarkable empathy, commitment, enthusiasm and energy. Our volunteers bring a broad range of skills to the organisation, and approach their tasks with professionalism and good will.
Students: The Society displays a strong commitment to providing a learning environment for students of Social Work, making available a number of student placements each year. Feedback from the Universities and the students is that the placements provided by Caroline Chisholm Society are of high quality, providing terrific opportunities for students to gain practical experience and understanding of families and children.
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Located at 1 Darebin Place, the Caroline Springs site of the Caroline Chisholm Society, a former community centre, was fitted out to suit our unique services in 2010. At present, our social workers and administration are located at Caroline Springs. While the Society has been working in the area for many years, we are now looking forward to a long future in the Brimbank and Melton local areas.
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Located at 12 Shuter Street, Moonee Ponds our Moonee Valley office houses material aid, pregnancy counselling and support workers for families facing financial, housing and other challanges. We will be here at 12 Shuter Street while we fundraise to move to the former Precision Mower shop at 977 Mt Alexander Road, Essendon. For over 35 years, our home was at 41 Park Street, Moonee Ponds.
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Goulburn Valley (Shepparton and surrounds)
Goulburn Valley Pregnancy Support Service has been a branch of Caroline Chisholm Society since 1975, with funding for the salaries of 3 part-time staff: a co-ordinator, a caseworker and material aid worker. Additionally, volunteers have worked thousands of hours over the years to complement the delivery of services: in the office; in families’ homes; in our groups. Our volunteers also knit, sew, and make beautiful packs for new-borns, and toys for the older children. Our voluntary Committee, which held the first Annual Meeting in March 1979, has five current office-bearers who have served over twenty-five years.
Services provided by GV pregnancy support include:
- Baby goods and clothing
- Pregnancy testing and options counselling
- Pregnancy support
- Pregnancy loss counselling
- Early parenting information and support
Click here for our GV brochure
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