Federal millions help mums and families

Emilee Doherty gives Page MP Janelle Saffin a big hug to say thank you for guaranteeing funding for the program that helped her mum through post-natal depression.

When Tracey Doherty had her first child, Emilee, she was expecting the joy of new parenthood but instead was struck with post-natal depression.

I was pretty down and miserable and just not handling things, Ms Doherty said.

To make things even harder, Emilee, who is now 17 months old, suffers from sleep apnea, which means there is a risk she could stop breathing in her sleep.

Ms Doherty sought help from the Strengthening Attachment and Bonding program, which is co-ordinated by the Lismore Family Support Network.

Although you always know there are other people suffering, it really helped to be able to talk about things in a group, she said. We were taught to know our own feelings and to own them. We sat down and bounced ideas off each other about how we were coping and the different experiences we had managing our depression.

Ms Doherty is continuing to find support with the other young mothers she met in the group, who now take their children to a playgroup in South Lismore. The children and the mothers have all become friends.

Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we are doing a good job with our kids and Im grateful to the women in the group who helped all of us, she said.

On Tuesday Page MP Janelle Saffin was at the Lismore Family Support Network to announce $2.2 million in funding for five family support projects the Goonellabah Transition to School, Ready Steady School, the Breastfeeding Support, the bonding programs and the Aboriginal Parent Mentoring Project.

There is no more vital commitment we can make than to strengthen families in our community, Ms Saffin said. I am just so pleased to be able to announce this money to support mums, babies and families.

Uta Dietrich from the North Coast Area Health Service said the funding would allow valuable programs to continue for another three years.

The feedback I have been getting from families about the Transition to School program is that it really helps kids fit into school and start on an equal footing, Ms Dietrich said. It makes such a difference to peoples lives.

The Lismore Family Support Network has produced a DVD and workbook as part of a project called Bonding with Baby A Helping Hand, designed for couples to use in their homes to help overcome post-natal depression.

Preventing the bough from breaking will be launched at a national post-natal conference in Byron Bay on Monday, April 28, and was written by the Support Networks Jodie Clarke, assisted by psychologist Annabel McLisky and Chereece Dixon. All three women are mums and have extensive experience of working with mothers, partners and families affected by post-natal depression.

Ms Saffin also announced $300,000 funding for the YWCA to continue its Communities for Children programs.

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