Home-visiting program for Indigenous families

Home-visiting is an effective way for professionals to support parents as they raise their children.  There is good evidence to demonstrate that it leads to better outcomes for children, particularly in the social, emotional and cognitive areas.

Recognising the value of this type of intervention, the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Aboriginal Early Years, commissioned the Parenting Research Centre in 2008 to develop a resource that would help practitioners who work in the homes of Indigenous families.

We collaborated with five Indigenous communities across Victoria. Reference groups from these communities also helped us identify suitable topics and understand the best way to help practitioners present the information. Throughout the process we ensured that Indigenous culture and values were acknowledged and respected.

The end product was a practice framework entitled Parenting support resource: for home-visiting practitioners that helped practitioners build on the existing skills and strengths of families. It included two curriculums to offer home-based support to families with children in two age ranges:

  1. for parents of children aged 0-3 years, focusing on the themes of safety, happiness, health, and learning and development
  2. for parents children aged 3-5 years, also focusing on the themes above and aiming to promote school readiness.

A traditional yarning approach was chosen as culturally appropriate, and practices such as ‘observe, practice, feedback’ were used to convey information in a practical way.

Drawing on our own expertise, we facilitated the consultation process and managed the following components:

  • designed the practice framework
  • created a flexible program that could be tailored to the needs of the parents, home-visiting practitioners and their agencies
  • designed the curriculum using content from the Raising Children Network.

The resource included the program in CD-ROM format and additional materials such as tip sheets for practitioners to give to families as home-learning enrichment tools.

We welcome enquiries from any organisation interested in developing a similar approach to help improve child outcomes.