Maternal and child health services

Ministers Statement

I rise to inform the house of the Andrews Labor government’s continued investment in support of Victoria’s wonderful maternal and child health service. Last Friday I was pleased to attend the first of the biannual maternal and child health conferences at the Melbourne Convention Centre. I have always enjoyed this opportunity to speak directly to all of Victoria’s wonderful maternal and child health nurses and to thank them for their incredible work in supporting Victoria’s children and families.

Whilst there I was pleased to launch a free new maternal and child health app which gives families access to the latest parenting tips, advice and guidance matched to the age of their child. The app provides reminders about upcoming maternal and child health appointments, warnings for parents, a list of useful contacts and an interactive Q and A function with links to trusted information online. We are investing $930 000 over four years to continue developing the app in consultation with families, and it will be regularly updated with new features.

I also announced additional workforce initiatives for our maternal and child health nurses that include training for our early childhood professionals to better support families affected by trauma as well as launching new clinical supervision guidelines. Today I am also pleased to announce that 77 maternal and child health nurses, the largest number ever, will receive a scholarship to enable us to increase the quality and capacity of our world‑class nursing workforce. The maternal and child health nursing scholarship program will provide up to $830 000 for registered nurses holding a midwifery qualification to complete postgraduate education in maternal and child health nursing.

The maternal and child health service is one that has come a long way in its 100‑year history and is one that I am proud to have supported to enable it to be strengthened and enhanced further since we have come to government. Our 2016–17 state budget allocation was the largest state government investment into the maternal and child health service to date, and it allowed for continued service improvements. Our $202.1 million Early Childhood Reform Plan in last year’s budget included $81.1 million to expand the availability of our supported playgroups across Victoria and boost maternal and child health and parenting support to provide families with strong support in early childhood. I would encourage all parents with young children to download the new app. It is free and available now and is a wonderful resource for families.