New babies and young children: support
Australian Breastfeeding Association – Breastfeeding helpline
If you’re breastfeeding and need help, trained volunteer counsellors can give you reassurance, information and advice about breastfeeding and overcoming common difficulties with breastfeeding. Phone the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268 (1800 MUM 2 MUM), 7 days a week, 24 hours.
Early parenting centres
These centres can help families with children aged 0-3 years who are having problems with feeding, settling, sleep and early childhood routines. When you call a centre, a worker will speak with you about your needs and let you know how the centre can help. Families can stay at a centre or attend a day stay program.
Some early parenting centres in Melbourne also provide services in regional Victoria. Find out more from your maternal and child health nurse, or contact your nearest centre:
- O’Connell Family Centre in Canterbury, phone (03) 8416 7600, Monday-Friday, 8.30 am-5 pm
- Queen Elizabeth Centre in Noble Park, phone (03) 9549 2777, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm
- Tweddle Child and Family Health Service in Footscray, phone (03) 9689 1577, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.
Maternal and Child Health Service
The Maternal and Child Health Service provides free health checks for children between birth and school age. Contact your local council to find your nearest Maternal and Child Health Centre. You can also speak to a qualified maternal and child health nurse on the phone – call the the Maternal and Child Health line on 132 229, 7 days a week, 24 hours.
This is a free 24-hour telephone health information and advice service. Phone 1300 606 024.
This is a telephone counselling service for parents and carers of children aged 0-18 years. Professional counsellors can help you with issues relating to parenting and relationships, from settling, feeding and tantrums to separation and family violence. Parentline can also provide contact details for community services. Phone Parentline on 132 289, 7 days a week, 8 am-midnight.
Child care and early childhood education
There are 5 options for child care and early education in Australia:
- Home-based care – this is when a friend, relative, babysitter or nanny cares for your child in your own home.
- Centre-based care – this includes long day care, occasional care, preschools and kindergartens.
- Family day care – this is when an approved educator cares for your child in the educator’s home.
- Business-related creches – this is informal care offered in businesses like gyms or shopping centres.
- Outside school hours care – this is centre-based child care for primary school-age children before and/or after school, on student-free days and during the school holidays.
Playgroups are a great way for young children to practise getting along with others and try new ways to play. They’re good for parents too, with plenty of support and social contact in a relaxed, welcoming environment.
For more information or to find a playgroup near you, phone Playgroup Victoria on 1800 171 882, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.
Preschool or kindergarten
Preschool is generally for children who turn 4 in the year before starting school. Some states and territories offer preschool for 3-year-olds.
Preschool programs help children learn and develop through play. They also help children get ready for the transition to school.
In Victoria, preschool is called kindergarten. Some kindergartens are located in public schools – you can find out more about kindergarten in Victorian Government schools. Others are run by local government, community-based organisations or the private sector.
Search the Starting Blocks website to find a kindergarten near you.
Children with developmental delay or disability
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a national scheme to support people with permanent and significant disability.
If your child has a developmental delay or significant and permanent disability, the NDIS helps you and your child get services and support in your community. Start by phoning the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on 1800 800 110, Monday-Friday, 8 am-8 pm.
General parenting services and information
Infoxchange Service Seeker is a directory of community services in Australia. Search for ‘parenting’ to find parenting support and other services in your area.
Our guide to parent and family services has links to national, state and territory parent support and family support services, resources and organisations for parents and families of all kinds.
Your mental health, wellbeing and relationships
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed or you’re struggling with your mental health or relationships, getting professional support is a very good idea. You could start by talking to your GP.
Here are more ways to get support for mental health and wellbeing:
- Call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 for mental health support.
- Check Head to Health to find online programs, forums and information on specific mental health topics.
For relationships support, call:
- Relationships Australia – Victoria on 1300 364 277, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm
- Family Relationships Online on 1800 050 321, Monday-Friday, 8 am-8 pm and Saturday, 10 am-4 pm.
If there are problems in your relationships like family violence, call:
- Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188, 7 days a week, 24 hours
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292, Monday-Friday, 5 pm-9 am and all weekend
- National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732 (1800RESPECT), 7 days a week, 24 hours
- Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) on 1300 134 130, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.