23/02/05 - New website to help all Australian families; Australian government brings experts and philanthropy together to support parents and children

Family and Community Services Minister Senator Kay Patterson recently announced that the Raising Children Network has been appointed to develop and manage a national parenting information website, under the Stronger Families & Communities “Invest to Grow” initiative.   The Raising Children Network is a consortium comprised of Smart Population Foundation, the Victorian Parenting Centre and the Centre for Community Child Health, part of the Murdoch Research Institute at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

The need for a national parenting information website grew out of research into what parents, carers and practitioners working with parents require (from the national Parenting Information Project.) The research showed that parents complain of information overload and simultaneously an inability to find trustworthy information in one place.  The Australian Government will contribute $4 million over four years as part of its commitment to ensure every Australian child has the best possible start in life by supporting parents in their most important role.

The Raising Children Network website will seek the collective wisdom of experts and industry bodies from all over Australia and the feedback of parents and practitioners.  To that end, an interim home page has been established at www.raisingchildren.net.au to capture parents’ and practitioners’ recommendations during the development process.

The content for the website, which must pass the scrutiny of an editorial committee of Australian experts, will cover a broad range of developmental information, tools and resources for pregnancy through school transition, tailored for parents of all different backgrounds and circumstances.

“Today’s parents are raising children in an era of unprecedented and critical examination.  Yet despite the preoccupation with getting parenting ‘right’, it has never been harder for parents to find reliable information or the help they need … when they need it”    Divonne Holmes à Court, spokesperson for the Raising Children Network Consortium, said.

The Raising Children Network website will be a single, reliable, user-friendly resource for parents.  It will give them control over valuable information to empower them to answer their own questions about safety and care in the privacy of their own homes.   Those without access to the internet will be able to benefit indirectly through nurses, GPs and support services who use the website for research and parenting tools.  The website will be expert accredited, quality assured and will filter out judgmental advice, instead making the basics and the science truly accessible, engaging parents with informed choice.

To broaden the reach of the website’s quality assured content, the consortium will also make a DVD, called “Raising Humans”, covering basic parenting information, freely available to all families with newborn and young children via hospitals and other locations.  Hosted by respected Australian personalities, it will explore key childhood milestones and parenting issues with families and experts.  The Raising Humans DVD will be made possible by additional funding through philanthropic contributions and the pro bono support of a variety of Australian businesses.

We all know caring for children is a sometimes daunting responsibility.  We all want the best for children -- sometimes a light at the end of the tunnel can make all the difference.  Raisingchildren.net.au will also provide a forum for parents wishing to be a part of an online community,” Ms. Holmes à Court said.

The Raising Children Network consortium is looking forward to the consultation and development process to realise the vision of a highly accessible, trustworthy, practical website with long-term benefits for children and families. The website will go live by early 2006.


Raising Children Network Consortium Information and contacts:

Divonne Holmes à Court – Smart Population Foundation

www.smartpopulation.org; Tel: (02) 8356 1340, email: info@smartpopulation.org

Smart Population Foundation (SPF) was established in 2002 to help prevent harm and improve long-term outcomes for children by facilitating the synthesis and translation of parenting science, including child development, health, safety and communication, for all Australians. This includes national distribution of tools and resources using television, DVD, CDR, print and internet. The Foundation’s expert advisors include Prof Fiona Stanley (WA), Prof Frank Oberklaid (VIC), Prof June Wangman (NSW), Prof Lesley Barclay (NT), Prof Graham Vimpani, among others.  The Foundation’s Advisory Panel also includes David Coe, Russell Crowe, Elaine Henry and Tim Fischer who serve in a voluntary capacity as general business advisors.


Warren Cann – Victorian Parenting Centre

www.vicparenting.com.au; Tel: (03) 9639 4111

Victorian Parenting Centre (VPC) has built a national and international reputation as a research leader in evidence based parenting support since its launch in 1997. The Centre researches, develops and implements high quality evidence based programs and resources, including universal prevention programs and interventions designed to support families with high and complex needs. The Centre has recently led the development of a conceptual basis for understanding parenting, parenting development and parenting support, and a extensive framework for guiding collaborative professional practice in engaging with parents.


June McLoughlin – Centre for Community Child Health

www.rch.org.au/ccch; Tel: (03) 9345 5297

Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) is part of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute located at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. The Centre is widely recognised locally and internationally for leadership in early childhood and community child health and for clinical, teaching, research and advocacy programs, and is at the forefront of Australian efforts to urge government funded programs to support parents in the early childhood years. It is internationally recognised for research in prevention, health promotion, early detection, and child public health, as well as for parent and professional education and information.

See also Media Release 09/02/2005: "New website to help all Australian families"

Minister for Family and Community Services