Maternal and Child Health services

This page outlines the Victorian Government's plans to improve Maternal and Child Health services. For information on how to access these services, see: For Parents - Maternal and Child Health Services

Getting kids ready for kinder

The Early Childhood Reform Plan includes initiatives to expand and enhance parenting support and the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) service.

As part of Budget 2017/18, the Victorian Government will invest $81.1 million for MCH and parenting support reforms, to help families get their kids ready for kindergarten and beyond.

Funding includes:

  • $4.9 million to respond to demand on the telephone information line (MCH line)
  • $37.7 million to progressively expanding the Enhanced MCH Service to support children up to the age of three
  • $11 million to fund  an additional MCH visit to women and children at risk of family violence
  • $5.2 million to attract new MCH nurses to the Service and support the development of all MCH nurses in the latest techniques and practices to support families, including those struggling with trauma.

To increase the availability of supported playgroups so they are available across the state, and better connect first time MCH parent groups with community playgroups, $22.3 million has also been provided.

MCH Information Line

We will also provide $4.9 million in funding to improve parents’ access to reliable, evidence-based information and advice.

Through the MCH Line phone service, parents are able to access information and support from a trained MCH nurse on a range of issues such as child health, nutrition and parenting.

The MCH Line provides support to parents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What is the Enhanced MCH service?

The Enhanced MCH service is a more targeted service for families who may need some extra support, such as families with babies who were born prematurely or with a low birth weight, children with a disability or parents experiencing mental health issues.

Recognising that many families need support beyond their child’s first birthday, the Government is committing $37.7 million to expand the Enhanced MCH Service to support 15 per cent of Victorian families with children from birth to three years of age.

When fully implemented, this will provide about 37,000 families who are struggling with 20 hours of support across their child’s first three years, in addition to the Universal MCH Service’s ten Key Ages and Stages consultations.

This expansion will be guided by the work currently underway to revise and strengthen the Enhanced MCH Service Guidelines and the roll-out will occur progressively over the next four years.

MCH response to family violence

The Royal Commission into Family Violence observed that pregnancy and the early post-natal period is a time of heightened family violence risk. The Victorian Government is delivering $11 million in funding to provide an additional outreach visit where an MCH nurse is concerned that family violence may be occurring.

MCH nurses are highly skilled at supporting women and families. They use their clinical judgement in assessing for family violence risk and referring women to specialist supports.

To build on their existing skills, MCH nurses will also receive tailored training to support them in working with women and children at risk of, or experiencing, family violence from mid-2018.

Additional family support visits have commenced in 2017.

For MCH practice guidelines and resources for domestic and family violence referral options see: MCH Parent Support Resources

MCH workforce development and attraction

To support the roll-out of these initiatives, the Victorian Government is committing $5.2 million to provide all MCH nurses with professional development opportunities, including training to help MCH nurses deal with increasingly complex family needs and issues such as trauma.

To ensure there are enough MCH nurses to successfully deliver these reforms, we are providing additional funding to attract more MCH nurses to the workforce.

Supported playgroups

The Government is delivering $22.3 million in funding to expand supported playgroups. This funding will allow an additional 6,000 families each year to access a supported playgroup, and make them available across the state.

Supported playgroups provide an opportunity for children to learn through play, and for parents to spend time with their children in a fun environment. A qualified facilitator uses evidence-based practice to help parents build their confidence and skills, meet other parents and create a positive home learning environment.

Supported playgroups are currently operated by some local governments and community sector organisations, but they are funded in fewer than half of the Local Government Areas across Victoria. The funding for the expansion of supported playgroups commences in 2017.

Further information

To read the announcement, see: