Birth for Humankind

Project Settling in to parenting: Best-practice skills building for new mothers experiencing disadvantage

Amount $25,933

Date 2019

Program Community

Reducing inequality Focusing on building parenting capacity as a protective factor for equitable health outcomes
Building organisational capacity Co-design an evidence-based program that complements mainstream services, to enable Victorian health professionals to provide appropriate postnatal support for women experiencing disadvantage
Collaboration and partnership Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies in Dandenong and Hume, Foundation House, Young and Pregnant Parenting, Launch Housing, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, midwives at Dandenong, Sunshine and Royal Women’s Hospitals

Image Y., a previous Birth for Humankind client, supporting N. through her pregnancy and early parenting journey. Photo: Nynno Bel Air

In 2018, a Victorian Government Inquiry into Perinatal Services identified an increasing trend for early discharge of mothers and a lack of appropriate parenting support services. This project responds by bringing together a range of agencies to develop and pilot an extended support program for vulnerable new mothers in the months following birth, delivered by professionally trained volunteer birth support companions known as doulas.

Birth for Humankind’s professionally trained volunteer doulas provide one-to-one care and support to expectant mothers, who are referred by case workers, social workers and healthcare providers. The doulas provide complementary support to the existing maternal health care system. Birth for Humankind will work with five partner agencies including Sunshine and Dandenong Hospitals, Foundation House and Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health in a co-design process to develop an extended support model of postnatal care and a toolbox of resources. It is intended to complement existing clinical services, whilst addressing a capacity gap in current mainstream services and resources.


  • A pilot program of extended postnatal care in the months following birth will provided to 60 socially isolated new mothers across Hume, Brimbank and Greater Dandenong.
  • The project supports the creation of strategic working partnerships among peer providers of specialist parenting and other enhanced support to parents experiencing disadvantage.
  • It will strengthen the capacity of public health and allied community sector partners to provide cohesive ongoing postnatal and early parenting support programs.
  • Video modules for clients and service providers will be developed and translated into five languages: Arabic, Somali, Oromo, Vietnamese and Mandarin.
  • Evidence and recommendations gathered from a monitoring and evaluation process will be used to inform Birth for Humankind’s ongoing work and distributed to partners and stakeholders in the public and allied sector maternal health services.
  • The project is intended for scaleable implementation.