Mums and dads in Whittlesea will get access to the information, support and care they and their baby needs, with new parenting centres, more maternal child health nurses and round-the-clock support to help get their babies to sleep.

Bringing a newborn home for the first time is one of the most precious moments for any parent – but for many families, it can also be extremely stressful.

That’s why the Andrews Labor Government has invested more than $230 million in maternal child health (MCH) services – including expanding the enhanced MCH Service to better support families that need help the most.

But we know there’s more to do – that’s why a re-elected Andrews Labor government will invest a further $232 million in a comprehensive package of new parent and early childhood supports every Victorian family.

The investment will build a new Early Parenting Centre in Whittlesea and deliver a range of critical services, including day stays, longer residential stays and more support at home. The centre will support around 690 families a year.

This centre will play a critical role in making sure new parents are getting the advice they need, including support with sleeping, feeding and extra care for babies with additional needs.

Sleep and settling is one of the biggest challenges facing new parents, with around one in two parents reporting problems with their child’s sleep. This can lead to post-natal depression, isolation and stress for parents, and impact a child’s behavioural, mental and physical development.

Because the most stressful time for sleep deprived parents is often the middle of the night, Labor will fund a revamped 24-hour phone line with specialists in sleep and settling issues.

Labor will also boost the number of home visits for vulnerable families, with 7,000 families getting more support. Labor’s new family package will also provide first aid training to around 26,000 parents per year.

The extra home visits will make a real difference for new parents, giving sleep-deprived mums and dads the assurance and advice they need when nothing seems to be working.

We also want to encourage more employers to offer paternity leave – that’s why if re-elected we’ll legislate to replace the payroll tax exemption for maternity leave with an exemption for all paid parental leave, to recognise that this is important time that a parent should use to spend with their newborn child.

First-time parent groups provide a forum to discuss the joys and challenges of raising a child and often form the basis of life-long friendships.

Labor will boost the number of parent group sessions for first time mums and dads by 40 per cent, with the extra sessions at convenient times for both parents, focussing on sleep and the transition to parenthood.

Quote attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“We know how precious and scary those first few months can be. A reassuring voice in the middle of the night – when your baby just won’t sleep – will make a real difference.”

Quote attributable to Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green

“There are so many expectations on new parents these days. It’s why we’ll make sure parents across Yan Yean get the support they need, in the moments they need it most.”

Quote attributable to Member for Thomastown Bronwyn Halfpenny

“This package means more nurses, more support and greater peace of mind for mums and dads across Thomastown.”

Quote attributable to Member for Mill Park Lily D’Ambrosio

“Sleep and settling is one of the biggest challenges facing parents. This investment will make sure parents get the support they need.”