Brumby sends super nanny squad to help failing families
EXCLUSIVE: "SUPER nanny" parent inspectors will be sent into the homes of failing Victorian families to teach them how to look after their children properly.
- Peter Rolfe
- From: Sunday Herald Sun
- January 17, 2010 12:00AM
In a radical overhaul of the state's child protection system, the Brumby Government will today announce a new squad of specially assigned staff to train mothers and fathers to be better parents. The taskforce will send experts into family homes for up to a year to offer advice, observe how family members interact and identify problems.
They will visit families as often as daily.
The state's most troubled parents will receive help under the mentoring scheme to start later this year.
Taskforce members - 50 in the first phase with more to come - will be briefed to identify family violence, post-natal depression, substance abuse and mental health issues.
A recruitment drive for staff with a background in social work, psychology, early childhood development and adolescent mediation will be launched in coming weeks.
Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said the specialist staff would visit daily then gradually less frequently.
"Some mums and dads need extra help," she said. "These specialist staff from the Department of Human Services will work intensively with struggling parents."
On the reality TV program Supernanny, a professional childcare expert helps parents with misbehaving children, discipline and maintaining order in households.
Ms Neville said the Government would try a similar approach, with families to be taught about buying and preparing healthy food, keeping their home safe and clean and ensuring children attend school, bath and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
"They may also help parents manage the family's budget," she said. "Developing schedules for a new baby, safe sleeping arrangements, how to manage a toddler or a difficult adolescent and even how to play educational games with their kids are all activities the mentors can help families with."
The Australian-first initiative, part of a $19.1 million package of pilot programs, will be tested in metropolitan and rural Victoria.
In extreme cases, where "feral" families cannot be helped, they will be referred to the Children's Court. Under Victorian law, parents have as little as a year to provide a stable environment before children are placed in state care.