A landmark Australian website to help parents and carers raise young children was officially launched in Sydney today by the Minister for Families and Community Services, Mal Brough, with children, high-profile parents and supporters in attendance.
The website, raisingchildren.net.au, provides expert, impartial information on raising children from newborns to eight years of age in an engaging and user-friendly format.
The website has been developed by the Raising Children Network (RCN), a consortium made up of three early childhood organisations: the Smart Population Foundation (SPF); the Victorian Parenting Centre (VPC); and the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.
The Federal Government commissioned the website, providing $4 million over four years under its Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.
The Raising Children website provides practical tools and up-to-date information on child health, safety, nutrition, learning, parental wellbeing, family management and kids’ activities. For example, “My Neighbourhood” connects parents and carers with local resources and each other; “Baby Karaoke” is an interactive way for parents to connect with their children; and “Parenting in Pictures” provides a visual guide to key topics, such as newborn sleep safety, breastfeeding techniques and bathing a baby.
The website was developed over 10 months and has involved more than 100 designers, researchers, writers, reviewers, content experts, coders, testers and volunteers.
“By making quality-assured parenting information available via one centralised website, parents all over Australia can now have ready access to reliable information at any time of the day or night, whenever it’s needed most,” said RCN content director Warren Cann, of the Victorian Parenting Centre.
The need for a website that parents could trust was highlighted by research commissioned by the Federal Government and undertaken by the Centre for Community Child Health.
“Our research shows that parents are feeling overloaded by often conflicting information,” Professor Frank Oberklaid, of the Centre for Community Child Health, said. “They just want to be able to find reliable, up-to-date information in one place. Now it’s available at raisingchildren.net.au.
“There is no universal standard of ‘good’ or ‘effective’ parenting. Parenting is actively shaped by children in interactions with their parents. Knowledge of child development is important and sensitivity and responsiveness to the cues given by children is critical for effective parenting.”
The website caters to fathers, mothers, grandparents and anyone else caring for children. It also speaks to teachers, child care workers, general practitioners, human resource departments, and others working with families and children.
Divonne Holmes a Court, founder of consortium member SPF and mother of two sets of twins, said: “Caring for children can be a daunting responsibility, particularly for first-time parents. We all want to make informed decisions that we can feel confident about.
“I hope the Raising Children website can help connect families to the best information available – information they can trust that’s free, in one central place, and easy to use.”
For downloadable images, sound files and further information, please visit the Media Centre at http://raisingchildren.net.au/media.html
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