Early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program

The $148 million early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program will more than triple the number of early parenting centres (EPCs) in Victoria. This will provide support to more than 5,000 extra families each year.

The birth of a new child is one the most precious moments for any parent – but for many it can also be a stressful and difficult time.

The challenges associated with parenting in the early years of a child’s life can affect families very differently. In some cases, this requires specialised support, beyond that available through universal services such as maternal and child health services.

The early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program will upgrade and expand facilities at existing EPCs in Footscray and Noble Park. It will also build and establish eight new EPCs in the growing areas of:

  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Casey
  • Hastings
  • Geelong
  • Shepparton
  • Whittlesea
  • Wyndham.

$148 MILLION
$148 MILLION

INVESTMENT

2
2

UPGRADED CENTRES

8
8

NEW CENTRES IN DELIVERY

5,000+
5,000+

EXTRA FAMILIES SUPPORTED EACH YEAR

Victoria’s EPCs provide specialist support and deliver flexible, targeted services for families with children 0–4 years old.

They aim to enhance the parent-child relationship and support parents with strategies for achieving their parenting goals. These goals are often in areas such as sleep and settling, child behaviour, and parent and child health and wellbeing.

These goals are achieved through structured programs that vary from day-long and multi-day residential stays. Programs include:

  • psychosocial, physical and developmental assessments
  • parenting education
  • counselling
  • skills development
  • play-based activities
  • modelling effective behaviours.

How to access services

When complete, the services offered at each new centre will be available to all eligible Victorians. Families can choose to attend any centre within the EPC network.

Referrals to EPCs are usually from maternal and child health services, maternity services, general practitioners, Child FIRST and Child Protection.

EPC services are currently provided by:

These centres operate several satellite services across the state. Please contact the centres for more information.

The early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program aims to deliver the following benefits:

More families supported

The program will more than triple existing service capacity, allowing more than 5,000 extra families to be supported each year.

More in-centre residential services

The expansion and upgrade program will increase the number of services available to Victorian families. This includes residential family units, where families can stay overnight for support.

More support for regional and outer-metropolitan Victorian families

An expanded EPC network is getting us closer towards the goal of state-wide coverage, providing access to specialist parenting support for more families, closer to home.

Jobs for Victorians

The program will create and sustain around 400 construction jobs across the state. It will also create new job opportunities for multidisciplinary teams of qualified professionals to operate the new centres.

In May 2019, the Victorian Government announced a $123 million investment to expand and upgrade the early parenting centre network.

The initial investment includes:

  • the upgrade and expansion of existing EPCs in Noble Park and Footscray
  • the construction of seven new centres in the growing areas of Ballarat, Bendigo, Casey, Hastings, Geelong, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

In May 2022, the Victorian Government announced an extra $25 million. This brings the total investment in the early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program to $148 million. Part of this extra funding will be used to support the delivery of an eighth new EPC in Shepparton.

The 2023-24 State Budget is also investing a further $15 million for a ninth new EPC in Northcote.

New facilities

Factors such as locations of existing centres, population growth, and levels of need for healthy child development were considered when deciding locations for the new EPCs.

The new EPCs will include:

  • residential family units
  • day-stay places
  • shared kitchen and dining areas
  • multi-purpose rooms
  • indoor and outdoor play areas
  • administration and staff areas.

Upgrading existing facilities

The upgraded Footscray EPC will include:

  • 12 new residential family units
    • including two Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant residential family units (bringing the total to three)
  • private amenities for each of the units including ensuites.

The upgraded Noble Park EPC will include:

  • a new welcoming entrance
  • two standard residential family units
  • two Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant residential family units.

Metropolitan Melbourne

Six EPCs are being built or upgraded in metropolitan Melbourne.

New EPCs

  • Casey Early Parenting Centre
    " "114 Newgrange Boulevard, Clyde North
    Managed by: Monash Health in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Centre
  • Hastings Early Parenting Centre
    " " 185 High Street, Hastings
    Managed by: The Queen Elizabeth Centre, with support from Peninsula Health
  • Whittlesea Early Parenting Centre
    " "34 Anchorage Drive, South Morang
    Managed by: Mercy Health (O’Connell Family Centre)
  • Wyndham Early Parenting Centre
    " "239-245 Princes Highway, Werribee
    Managed by: Tweddle Child and Family Health Service

Upgraded centres

  • Footscray Early Parenting Centre
    " "53 Adelaide Street, Footscray
    Managed by: Tweddle Child and Family Health Service
  • Noble Park Early Parenting Centre
    " "53 Thomas Street, Noble Park
    Managed by: the Queen Elizabeth Centre

Regional Victoria

Four EPCs are being built in regional areas. They are:

  • Ballarat Early Parenting Centre
    " "10 Fawcett Road, Lucas
    Managed by: Grampians Health in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Centre
  • Bendigo Early Parenting Centre

    " "37 Havlin Street East, Kennington
    Managed by: Bendigo Health in partnership with the Tweddle Child and Family Health Service
     

  • Geelong Early Parenting Centre
    " "45 - 95 Ballarat Road, North Geelong
    Managed by: Barwon Health in partnership with the Tweddle Child and Family Health Service
     
  • Shepparton Early Parenting Centre
    The managing health service and the location for the new centre will be announced in due course.

Community advisory groups

Community advisory groups (CAGs) have been established to help inform planning for each of the initial seven new EPCs.

The advisory groups include these key stakeholder groups:

  • local councils
  • local maternal and child health service providers
  • community groups
  • Aboriginal representation.

Working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal communities

Cultural safety, accessibility and appropriateness of services are an important part of the expansion and upgrade program.

We will continue to work with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and Aboriginal community members, including through the dedicated Aboriginal Advisory Group to guide the expansion and upgrade program.

Each EPCs managing health service also works closely with local community groups to develop services that reflect the community’s needs now, and into the future.

Artist impressions

The designs have been carefully considered to create a safe and serene environment. Families can feel at home in the centres, with rooms suitable for various family arrangements.

Designs for the program were led by architecture firm, Brand Architects. Brand Architects consulted childcare experts, local community groups and traditional owners as part of the design process to ensure the centres reflect the communities they serve.

You can see all artist impressions and videos in the gallery below.

COVID-19 considerations

The design of the new and upgraded EPCs has been adapted to respond to lessons learnt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include:

  • residential suites will be equipped with individual air handling units (designed with negative pressure) to reduce the spread of infection
  • all occupied spaces will have natural ventilation, including windows that open and close
  • sensor operated hand basins included at all wash stations – and more of them
  • internal finishes that are easy to clean.

Environmental considerations

Environmental considerations for the program have followed the Guidelines for Sustainability for Capital Works. This includes provisions for solar panels, the installation of efficient water and electrical fixtures and native and Indigenous plantings.

Progress

The new Wyndham EPC is complete. The centre was the first new EPC to open to families thanks to the early parenting centres expansion and upgrade program. Take a look inside the centre.

Construction is also completed on the Whittlesea EPC and Casey EPC. Step inside the new Whittlesea centre, or the new Casey centre.

Construction on upgrades at existing EPCs in Noble Park and Footscray is well underway. The upgrades are expected to be completed in 2024.

Construction is also underway at the following new sites:

  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Geelong.

Construction impacts

We will work closely with the appointed builders to minimise construction impacts on the community.

All construction works will be conducted in accordance with Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and council-imposed noise guidelines, dust suppression measures and the use of clear construction signage.

As with all construction sites, there could be a temporary increase in traffic during construction. However, we will work closely with the appointed builders and local stakeholders to address any concerns and ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum.

This program is being delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority in partnership with the Department of Health and the following providers:

Design and construction

  • Brand Architects
  • A W Nicholson (Builder – Ballarat)
  • Bowden Corporation (Builder – Bendigo, Footscray, Geelong and Noble Park)
  • Hutchinson Builders (Builder – Whittlesea and Wyndham)
  • S.J. Higgins (Casey)

Health services

  • Barwon Health
  • Bendigo Health
  • Grampians Health
  • Mercy Health (O’Connell Family Centre)
  • Monash Health
  • Peninsula Health
  • Queen Elizabeth Centre
  • Tweddle Child and Family Health Service.

Early parenting centre projects

Early parenting centre projects

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News

Interior of Casey Early Parenting Centre

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Last updated: 20 November 2023