Maternal and Child Health service at risk

Published on 28 October 2022


An essential service to our youngest children and their parents is in crisis! The Maternal Child Health service (MCH) that supports so many families is under significant strain.
Childhood is a stage of life where investment has the greatest return and our focus and support on early years, through MCH services, benefits everyone in our community.
However, despite the essential nature of these services, it is not adequately funded, and the model of funding has not kept up with the needs of the community.
There is significant pressure to deliver MCH services to families with additional and complex needs, requiring more support and additional administration requirements, with less than adequate funding and staff. Our brilliant and dedicated Maternal & Child Health staff simply cannot keep up with the increased demand.
The service is seeing more presentation of mental health issues, family violence, and social, emotional and family issues, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 2,158 family violence incidents reported to Police on the Mornington Peninsula in 2020-2021. This is an increase of more than 14% from the year previous. And there is no crisis accommodation on the Mornington Peninsula for women and children who are seeking refuge from family violence.

We also have a higher incidence of family violence on the Peninsula than the Melbourne metropolitan average. This means there is a much higher demand for support services and local families are missing out, because there isn’t enough help to go around. Waitlists for referral services are unreasonably long.

Providing a family with the necessary support can be the difference between a family being safe or not. This is why we are asking for an urgent review of the Maternal and Child Health Program to address severe staff shortages, staff burnout and a significant shortfall in funding. These issues must be addressed immediately to ensure the continuation of these vital services across the Peninsula and Victoria.

We are requesting:

  • An immediate review of the Victorian Government's resourcing of the maternal and child health service and an ongoing commitment to the 50:50 partnership with local government in the provision of this essential universal service.
  • Review the MCH Key Age and Stage Framework, aligning and including evidence-based interventions, time allocation per consultation and funding of program hours per child, alongside the development of a comprehensive MCH workforce strategy for the sector to deliver the service now and into the future.
  • Commitment to work with local government to resource ageing infrastructure used for the programs and services that support young families and older people. Including recognition of the unprecedented volume of construction required for Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reform.
  • Commitment to work with local government on workforce planning to ensure the continuation of essential maternal and child health and early years education services.

Quotes attributable to Mayor Cr Anthony Marsh:
 "We must ensure our MCH service continues to support families and the youngest in our community, when these early interventions and lifesaving programs can make a significant difference to their lives. And our MCH workforce deserves to have the resources and funding to be able to support the health, wellbeing and safety needs of families on the Peninsula."
"The significant barriers to recruiting and retaining staff, including pay discrepancies and increasing training requirements, must also be immediately addressed to ensure the sustainability of this crucial services across the Peninsula and Victoria."
"More funding is required urgently to support our families including those requiring additional support and crisis accommodation. We must have crisis accommodation on the Peninsula so that families can stay close to work, their children’s schools, family and friends".
Quotes attributable to Cr Kerri McCafferty:
 "We must never underestimate the impact of the pressure placed on young families over the last few years. Can you imagine bringing home your first baby in the midst of a pandemic?"

"Our MCH service is in crisis, and we need significantly more funding from the Victorian Government to ensure women and their young children are safe and well and able to get timely referrals to the services they urgently need. This is primarily an issue for women and children in our community and they must be better supported."

"Our MCH staff are working around the clock and delivering exceptional service to the community, but there aren’t enough of them to go around. The Victorian Government must do better!"



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