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Parent Aides give mountains of support

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Parent Aides give mountains of support

For more than 35 years Mater Parent Aides like Annette Jell, have volunteered to help more than 1000 families by providing much needed support and encouragement to mums and families caring for their babies and children.

Coordinated by experienced health professionals, Mater’s Parent Aide service relies heavily on trained volunteers (Parent Aides) who provide home visits for people struggling to raise their families.

By giving two hours a week, Parent Aides seek to work through a befriending relationship which they develop with families, often for up to two years. They offer information, suggestions, practical help and, importantly, encouragement—either in person or by telephone, particularly at times of crisis or distress.  Visits to families are varied, sometimes it can be to teach mum how to care for their baby, set up play dates or just be a friendly face.

Parent Aide Annette Jell has been volunteering for 15 months and found the training very thorough for the journey ahead.

“My world has been broadened since becoming a volunteer – some families face challenges I didn’t even realised existed.” Annette said.

Annette has been working with Jonathan and Michal’s family since baby Naomi was born a year and a half ago, joining siblings, 8 year old Yoela and 3 year old Raphael.

“At first we were all finding our way but I quickly realised my role was to work with the whole family.

“I was included as part of their family straight away and they affectionately call me Safta Annette, Hebrew for grandmother,” she said.

“I vary my visiting times each week so I can spend time with everyone,” Annette said.

“Befriending” is the theme that underpins everything the volunteers do, with parents like Jonathan and Michel often commenting on how helpful their Parent Aide has been to their family.

“From the very beginning, Annette has been such a blessing to us,” said Michal.

“We all love her and cherish her – she is always there for us and goes above and beyond her volunteering duties. She just totally puts her heart out there and this is a rare thing for a person to do,” she said.

Mater Parent Aide Unit Manager Robert Ferguson believes the unit is still just as important today since its beginnings 35 years ago.

“Raising young families can be tough even if you do have support around which makes this service even more valuable for vulnerable members of our community,” Robert said.

“Families say it helps and our volunteers confirm it,” he said.

The Parent Aide team at Mater offers support to volunteers no matter what time of the day or night – answering questions no matter how big or small. Professional development sessions are also run twice a month for volunteers covering topics like safe sleeping, baby settling and postnatal depression.

Parent Aides help parents who are experiencing difficulty with parenting in general, and work with parents and carers to promote and enhance positive outcomes for the overall health and wellbeing of themselves and their infant or toddler. Referrals to Mater’s Parent Aide Unit most often arise from Mater Mothers’ Hospital or Community Child Health Services, although referrals from other agencies and self-referrals are also welcome.

If you would like to consider becoming a Parent Aide, please call 3163 2234 for more information. Training commences in March 2017.

Public relations contacts

Phone number: 07 3163 8111 (ask for the on-call media officer)

Email: news@mater.org.au

Tags: parent aides, volunteers