Parent Infant Family Australia (PIFA)
The Home Visiting Program is designed to support Aboriginal families during their children’s early years.
The program includes at least a weekly home visit from a highly trained worker, 24 hour telephone follow up from the same consultant, availability of parenting groups and referral and advocacy to other services.
PIFA was established in 1998 to enhance the lives of children by supporting vulnerable families during pregnancy and in their children’s early years. Research shows indigenous people make up 2.2% of NSW’s total population, and within this group 33% of children were removed from their families.
Children were removed when their families were experiencing drug, alcohol or mental health issues, or domestic violence. These difficulties are a result of indigenous people generally having a lower socio-economic status due to lower average income, limited education, lower levels of employment and poor housing and living conditions.
To help address some of these issues PIFA developed the Home Visiting Program, in 2004, to work alongside urban Aboriginal families to help them advance the wellbeing of their children.
Current research and thinking in this area increasingly identify the relationships in the first years of a child’s life as the foundation of resilience and healthy adjustment later on. As well, current child protection research emphasises the importance of social connectedness, the breaking down of social isolation and the development of communities to children’s wellbeing and ultimate outcomes in life.
Urban Aboriginal parents have suffered dislocation from their land, their culture, from their community and often from their own families. As a result of experiencing many levels of loss and trauma parents in the current generation are often left with anxiety, rage, depression and a sense of helplessness in the face of conditions over which they feel they have no control.
This project aims to support vulnerable children by creating a therapeutic, caring community around their families so that social isolation is broken down and the Aboriginal community is strengthened. The project uses highly experienced therapists to home visit vulnerable families. The work is intense and long term; families receive a visit at least once each week for as long as they wish or until their children are all at school.