Back to Impact Stories

Birth for Humankind

  • Project: Settling in to parenting: Best-practice skills building for new mothers experiencing disadvantage
  • Amount: $25,933
  • Year(s) Funded: 2019

Building the parenting skills of disadvantaged new mothers through targeted postnatal support

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.

“I had been walking alone for so long…before my doula started walking with me. By the end of the tunnel… with my doula’s support, I could be ready to embrace my daughter as my companion in life.” Client, Birth for Humankind.

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 was provided to more than 60 socially isolated new mothers across Hume, Brimbank and Greater Dandenong.
  • The project supported the creation of strategic working partnerships among peer providers of specialist parenting and other enhanced support to parents experiencing disadvantage.
  • It strengthened 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 were 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.