Indigenous Parenting Support Service (IPSS) at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service

Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles



Practice focus

The use of an intergrated service delivery approach that is heavily informed by actively seeking feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and community members.

Delivered by

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS): An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The information provided for this Promising Practice Profile was supplied by the IPSS Coordinator at WACHS.

Service type

The service provides parenting programs, advice and support for parents of children aged 0 - 12. It is delivered exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of low socio-economic status.


Rural township: Wellington, NSW.


The aim of the service is to directly support parents and carers of Aboriginal children aged 0 - 12 in order to achieve the best possible outcomes in life for Aboriginal children.

The need for the service arose from:

  • ABS data in demonstrating the high numbers of young Aboriginal children in the Wellington community living in overcrowded homes with families of low income;
  • health data in relation to a lack of ante-natal care, high smoking rates of pregnant women and occurrence of family violence;
  • Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) information in relation to high numbers of children entering school where teachers have concerns about children's development in a number of areas, including social/emotional and language/cognitive issues; and
  • informal evidence that suggests very vulnerable families are the least likely to access existing services.

Objectives of the IPSS include:

  • staff to work directly with families to help families to access other services;
  • provision of advocacy and support;
  • to deliver home-based play sessions and parenting information; and,
  • staff to work with other services to conduct parenting and health programs and community events.

The IPSS is funded through the Australian Government's Family Support Program. The agreement is until June 30, 2014 and facilitates the employment of 1.5 full time workers and program expenses. Funding does not cover brokerage money to purchase other services or items for clients. Funding is dependant on IPSS fulfilling reporting requirements and the provision of agreed services.


MOST promising aspect

IPSS has worked in interagency case management partnerships with a range of agencies to facilitate support for very vulnerable and/or complex needs famillies, particularly where there are child protection concerns and statutory involvement. For example, IPSS has recently facilitated an 'Interagency Case Management' training day, which was well attended by fifteen workers from six community organisations. These collaborative initiatives provide the IPSS with the flexibility to respond to family needs as they arise by having the ability to refer clients to other programs.

Other promising aspects

Feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders about the program has resulted in the adoption of a number of culturally relevant approaches to service delivery (see "Cultural Practices and Materials" section above).

Evidence base and opportunities

By taking an interagency approach to service provision the IPSS is able to utilise a range of resources and information to provide additional support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Wellington community. Through referrals and the provision of feedback from partner organisations the IPSS has the support to address the complex and multiple issues of its clients. It also provides increased access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to the IPSS and other community services.

Ongoing and direct feedback from clients also assists the service to understand and respond to the needs of families, and enhances the capacity of the service to refine its service delivery approaches in accordance with those needs. As a consequence, culturally appropriate service responses, such as the provision of home-based play sessions and being actively involved in local community events, can facilitate trusing relationships within the community while delivering positive outcomes for children and parents.

IPSS has indicated to Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) and the federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, that IPSS would like to enlist further support from the community and from agencies outside the community to help contribute to the evidence base. This evidence-based focus is an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program in a more formal way, so that other communities can benefit from similar approaches.

Cultural relevance

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Clients' needs are identified through a combination of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, through other programs that deliver similar Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and through the delivery of the program as clients attend IPSS.

Ongoing feedback is specifically sought from Aboriginal clients and community members for ideas to modify and develop the service to be more culturally appropriate. IPSS also works in partnership with other organisations to present community events which are attended by many Aboriginal families.

Cultural practices and materials

The following strategies are adopted by the service to ensure it is culturally relevant:

  • take time to talk to Aboriginal people at a place and time chosen by those people;
  • respectful questioning to identify family and community needs;
  • be aware of family and community dynamics;
  • use respectful language that is not patronising;
  • form partnerships with other organisations delivering services to Aboriginal community members and other Aboriginal organisations;
  • consult Elders and Working Party representatives;
  • keep paperwork and forms simple;
  • provide annual cultural awareness training for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff;
  • actively support people in meetings;
  • give positive feedback; and,
  • ask all clients and Aboriginal community members for ideas and feedback on the service.

The IPSS was based on a range of models, including home visiting and parenting programs such as Triple P and Parents as Teachers (PAT). The models were adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Starit Islanders through a partnership of organisations that developed Indigenous Triple P resources. PAT has recently been modified to enhance its strengths-based approach, including stronger partnerships with parents and respect/awareness of cultural aspects of parenting.


Evaluation status

The service has not been evaluated and an evalutation is not planned for the immediate future. However, ongoing feedback from program clients is used to inform refinements to the service.


Demonstrated outcomes

Outputs and outcomes are reported to the funding body. These include service data on client numbers, demographics, activities provided and short-term outcomes acheived. Feedback from clients and from other services about IPSS's performance reported a range of outcomes. However, these outcomes were not provided in this submission to the Promising Practice Profiles.

Other evidence

Feedback from clients and staff working at other services suggest that IPSS activities have supported very vulnerable clients who were not accessing other services, or who were unable to access assitance from other services due to restrictive guidelines and a lack of flexibility.

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