I am pleased to speak today on the Caroline Chisholm Society as they celebrate 50 years. My advocacy for primary prevention and early intervention programs is very well known in this place. As stated by the Caroline Chisholm Society, if we can get perinatal mental health right, we will improve the well being of every Victorian child during the critical first 1000 days of their life. The Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support Service provides practical assistance, advice and care to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. The dedicated team at Shepparton run a great service on very limited resources with a high reliance on volunteers and the goodwill of the community.
The Caroline Chisholm Society has made key recommendations to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and with the interim report due today we hope the government will quickly address the needs, which include a coordinated health and community service response for women, infants, children and other family members during and after pregnancy to improve perinatal health; increased funding for perinatal mental health services to meet demand; better protocols and referral pathways; improved access to therapeutic programs to strengthen families; and implementing policies aligned with the World Association for Infant Mental Health’s statement on the rights of the infant. I thank the Caroline Chisholm Society, their staff and their volunteers and commend them for their important work in delivering a brighter future for mothers, babies and children.