The most comprehensive survey of Victorian parents ever conducted has given the State Government important information to shape and deliver services and support to families, Victorian Minister for Families and Children, Early Childhood Education and Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos MP says.
Speaking at an event to launch the Parenting Today in Victorian survey findings, Ms Mikakos said the survey had “established important baseline data regarding Victorian families and today is a wonderful opportunity for policy makers and practitioners from across the health, education and welfare sectors to collectively consider the implications of these findings for policy and practice”.
The survey, of 2600 parents, was conducted by the Parenting Research Centre and funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training.
Ms Mikakos said some key areas of the survey findings particularly stood out:
- Only 54% of parents of 3–5-year-olds read to their child every day. This demonstrated a need to support parents in providing a language-rich environment for their children to help build literacy and communication skills.
- Parents of children with a disability had poorer physical health and were more likely than other parents to report having symptoms of depression and anxiety since having children.
“These findings present a particular challenge to our service system – how can we more effectively engage and support these families and what services and supports would they find most valuable? This is particularly important in the current context as the services available to children experiencing a disability or developmental delay are rapidly evolving through the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“I extend a challenge to all of you here this morning to think deeply about how these findings can be used to develop our programs and practices. Through the $202.1 million [invested by the Victorian Government] we are striving to build a system where children and families who need more help get more help. Help that is based on the best available evidence provided by services that are inclusive and welcoming to all.”
Best available evidence
Parenting Research Centre CEO Warren Cann said supporting parents was important to improving child outcomes and this was increasingly recognised by all levels of government, with recent policy developments in Victoria such as Education State and the Roadmap to Reform being timely examples.
“The data we have collected through this survey is very rich and will be of immediate value but we’ve also now established a baseline that we can build on over time as we measure progress on how parents are faring and where and how they seek help,” he said.
Mr Cann said while Parenting Today in Victoria highlighted key areas for attention, it also demonstrated parents today are in pretty good shape.
“This generation of parents is the most conscientious ever. So we are not talking about broad remedial action here. We are talking about supporting them in their role. By harnessing their enthusiasm and efforts we can support them in driving good outcomes for children.”