The Sustaining NSW Families program is a sustainable, coordinated, and integrated high-intensity health home visiting service that strengthens relationships between children, parents, and/or carers; builds parenting capacity; and enhances child development, wellbeing, and health in vulnerable families.
The target group for this intervention is families with social and economic disadvantage who are vulnerable and who have associated psychosocial distress. Families meeting these criteria are offered intensive structured home visiting, ideally commencing in pregnancy and extending up until the child’s second birthday. They are also provided with access to early intervention services through allied health services and psychosocial support.
Three initial Sustaining NSW Families programs at Fairfield/Liverpool, Cessnock/Kurri Kurri/Maitland, and Wyong were established in 2009–10. Considerable work has been undertaken to inform and educate families, local stakeholders, and key agencies about the program. Strong links to other health services and support agencies have been established.
From March 2011, two further sites have commenced: a rural site servicing Kyogle, Lismore, and Richmond Valley; and a multicultural service based at Arncliffe with bilingual staff to work with vulnerable Arabic and Chinese families who would normally require an interpreter.
Aboriginal families are accessing programs in all established sites, and with the addition of the northern NSW program (which has an Indigenous focus), this participation is expected to increase.