atWork Australia recently hosted a morning tea for local Indigenous parents who are participants in the ParentsNext program in the Perth South Metro region of WA. The ParentsNext program is an Australian Government initiative that helps parents who are receiving parenting payments and who have children under six plan and prepare for either study or employment once their child is in full-time school. The morning tea, held at atWork Australia’s Gosnells office, provided the opportunity for parents to come together in a child-friendly, welcoming format to discuss the program and the different support available to them.

 

Nikita and her daughter

Jacqui D’Vine, Manager of ParentsNext for atWork Australia said, “Social isolation has been highlighted as a concern for many of our parents, so this type of event is important for facilitating meetings with other local parents and their children; giving parents the chance to share their story and learn from each other. The morning tea also gives atWork Australia staff the chance to get feedback from program participants in order to improve our services and ensure we are meeting the needs of our Indigenous parents.”

The morning tea was attended by Indigenous mothers and their children; atWork Australia staff, including Rob Beattie, VTEC Coordinator; Kerrie Smallwood from LIFE UNITE (previously Inspire 4U) who facilitated the morning; and Allen Gledhill, from the Department of Human Services.  During the event parents got together in small groups to share their stories, discuss their goals and consider options for studying or upskilling to ensure readiness for employment when their child reaches school age. Challenges such as child care and flexible work options were also discussed as a group.

 

Ashleigh and her daughter

Ashleigh (above), who attended with her daughter, said “As a single Mum I want to be financially stable for my kids.” Ashleigh is currently studying a Certificate III in Individual Support and is receiving assistance from atWork Australia to find a casual job while she studies.

Kerrie Smallwood from LIFE UNITE acknowledged each parent for attending and bringing their children.

“You are your child’s role model”, she said.

“For the many years I have worked with parents and carers I have learned about all the challenges they face, not just as parents, but as people in society. Today is a huge step forward. With atWork Australia offering the space for Indigenous parents to share their opinions and vision on how we can all work together and support them in seeking employment, that is the start of true empowerment. The creation of a service like ParentsNext can make the changes we need to see, not just for Indigenous parents, but for all parents. I am excited to see the outcomes as this initiative continues.”

A similar morning tea will be held again later this year and be open to all parents in the ParentsNext program. For more information about the program please visit our ParentsNext page or email us at parentsnext@atworkaustralia.com.au.