Home-Start Family Services Australia is committed to establishing and supporting Home-Start schemes throughout Australia, and believes in supporting families at an early stage to give children the best start in life

Home-Start

Home-Start is a Voluntary Home Service in which volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under 5 where the parents are experiencing difficulty in their parenting roles or are under stress. 

Home-Start began in the UK in 1973 with the simple idea that parents and grandparents have a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills that would be of benefit to parents with young children, who are facing difficulties.  There are now 356 Home-Start schemes throughout Britain and 520 schemes world wide.  The first Home-Start scheme in Australia was established in 1989 in Newcastle and has been operating with resounding success ever since.  There are currently 19 funded Home-Start schemes in Australia. 

Comprehensive preparation of volunteers and continuing support from a paid coordinator enables the Home-Start volunteer to become a significant source of support to parents and their children.  Home-Start volunteers can reassure parents by helping them to build on their strengths, enhance their parenting skills and find pleasure in family life.  They can also help isolated families to make friends, use community resources and help prevent family breakdown.  Home-Start employs a paid coordinator to recruit, train, supervise and support volunteers and link them with a family whom they visit weekly in the families own home.  Volunteers who are usually parents themselves must attend a 10 week training program, and undergo a screening process before being linked with a family.  The Community Solutions Evaluation (1995) of Home-Start Schemes in Australia reported that the model had a number of best practice elements for prevention by early intervention.  These elements include: 

  • Recruiting Volunteers
  • Training Volunteers
  • Supervising Volunteers
  • Supporting Volunteers

Documented outcomes for families involved in Home-Start include: 

  • Improved parenting skill
  • Increased parental confidence
  • Increased social support networks
  • Reduced social isolation
  • Families linked to wider community
  • Improved immunisation rates
  • reduced risk of child abuse and neglect
  • Reduced risk of violence
If you would like more information about receiving support, becoming a volunteer, referral, starting a Home-Start Program in your area, or you would like to make a donation to help Home-Start continue it’s work with families and children, please call or email your local Home-Start scheme, or call our National office: Phone: 02 49529488 or Email: ceo@homestartaustralia.org 

    We also offer a variety of programs such as:      

                  • Family Work/Group Work/Volunteer   Home Visiting
                  •  Programs for Dads
                  •  Parenting Programs and  Seminars
                  •  Early Literacy Projects
                  •  Supported Playgroups
                  •  Childhood Obesity/Family Well-being    Projects
                  •  Family Life Skills Programs
                  •  Health Awareness Projects
                  •  Child Safety Projects
                  •  Cultural Awareness Projects
                  •  Training
Home-Start Australia is a member of Home-Start Worldwide network.
                                     
In recognition of the powerful contribution to the community and the high standard of support Home-Start volunteers offer to children and their families Home-Start has received two awards.  Home-Start was highly commended in the inaugural National Child Abuse Prevention Awards presented by the National Child Protection Council,  and also received a merit award from the National Institute of Criminology for The Prevention of Violence to Women.

Home-Start has found best practice in voluntary home visiting is based on the cornerstones of social capital.  Putnam (1993) notes that “…one of the major indicators of good social capital is the density of the civil society i.e. the involvement of people in voluntary organisations”.  Home-Start volunteers are linchpins of society connecting the family and the wider community together thus creating capacity building not only within the family but the community as a whole.