Family Support

Best Start is a Victorian Government early years, place-based initiative that is funded and administered by the Department of Education and Training to support families, caregivers and communities in providing the best possible environment, experiences and care for children from birth to eight years of age. Communities and service providers collaborate to address issues as they are experienced at a neighbourhood level.

Best Start

The Darebin Best Start program focuses on children experiencing vulnerability and all Aboriginal children to ensure all children have access to quality early childhood experiences through maternal and child health services, Supported Playgroups and kindergartens. The Darebin Best Start partnerships use local data and community knowledge to identify those who are experiencing vulnerability within the City of Darebin

Darebin Best Start Outcomes:

  • Children engage and participate in early childhood education (kindergarten and Supported Playgroups)
  • Children and families actively engage with maternal and Child Health services, attending key age and stage visits

Further Information

Best Start Project Leader
Phone (03) 8470 8120

What is Best Start 

Books for the Publisher in Residence Program 

Our Shared Journey - Supporting transition to school 

This film is designed to give you and your child some tips on ways to make transition to school a stress free journey. The film was developed in consultation with the Darebin Best Start Working Group and the Darebin Early Years Transition Network. The production of this film was funded by Darebin Best Start and is available on DVD.  Thank you to the students at Melbourne Polytechnic TV Production Unit

For further information contact:
Our Shared Journey - Supporting transition to school

We provide advice, referrals and support for residents to help improve your family connections.

  • Enhance individual and family functioning
  • Improve family and community connections and build resilience
  • Support, empower and resource parents to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children under the age of 18
  • Work in a flexible, culturally sensitive and respectful way to provide a high quality service

Current group sessions:

Parenting After Violence - Wednesdays 15 May - 5 June 2019, 10.30am-12.30pm at Keon Park Children's Hub 1-7 Dole Avenue, Reservoir

Circle of Security - Wednesdays 17 July - 18 September 2019,  10.00am-12.00pm at Keon Park Children's Hub 1-7 Dole Avenue, Reservoir

Tuning into Teens - Tuesdays 12 November - 17 December 2019, 10.00am-12.00pm at Keon park Children's Hub 1-7 Dole Avenue, Reservoir

Bookings and Enquiries: (03) 8470 8018

Family Support Services brochure

Children, Families and Community Feedback Form

Family violence is the use of violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour by an individual against a family member(s), or someone with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship.

Violent behaviour includes not only physical assaults but an array of power and control tactics used along a continuum, in concert with one another, including direct or indirect threats, sexual assault, emotional and psychological torment, economic control, property damage, social isolation and behaviour which cause a person to live in fear.
If you are affected by family violence, contact 1800 RESPECT National Counselling Helpline, Information and Support - 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 000 (triple zero).  

Darebin Family Violence Network
The Darebin Family Violence Network (DFVN) is a network of 30 organisations who provide family violence services or prevention in Darebin. The Network Started in 1990, the network meets bi-monthly and aims to raise awareness of family violence and improve access to and coordination of services.

For more information email

Family Violence Support Services
If you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 000 (triple zero). 

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre : T: 1800 015 188
1800RESPECT: T: 1800 737 732
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service: T: 1800 105 303
Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA): T: 1800 806 292
Gay and Lesbian Switch Board: T: 1800 184 527
InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: T: 1800 755 988

Preventing Violence Against Women an Gender Equity
Darebin has a strong commitment to preventing violence against women before it occurs and promoting gender equity, for more details please visit Gender Equity and Preventing Violence Against Women 

Further Information
Contact our Preventing Violence Against Women Officer
Ph: (03) 8470 8522 or Email:


In-Home Support services can be provided to families in crises who need emotional support and resources.

In-Home Family Support

This service offers emotional support and resources to parents of children under 18 years of age.

In-Home Support

  • Builds on family strengths, while helping to manage the challenges of everyday life
  • Enhances personal and family communication
  • Works together to identify and achieve family goals
  • Explores issues that may be affecting relationships
  • Supports families to address issues such as family violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse
  • Provides practical support and parenting strategies to assist families to manage challenging behaviours
  • Helps establish routines in the home that work for the family.

Parent Education Groups are run throughout the year during the school term. This service offers support, education and the opportunity for parents to meet others. Group sessions are free and available to Darebin residents.

For parents of children aged 0-8 years.  This is a program that will help you understand your child's emotional needs, strengthen your attachment and relationship with your child, and give you knowledge to better respond to your child's needs.

Wednesdays (2 May - 20 June 2018)
Time: 10.00am to 12.00pm
Location: Keon Park Children's Hub 1-7 Dole Avenue, Keon Park
Cost: Free
Registrations: Call 9496 1018 or email
Further information: Download the Circle of Security flyer

A group for women dealing with the effects of Family Violence. This is a 4 week program.

Wednesdays (1 - 22 August 2018)
Time: 10.00am to 1.00pm
Location: Northcote Town Hall 189 High Street, Northcote.
Cost: Free
Registrations: Call 9496 1018 or email
Further information: Download the Parenting After Violence flyer


A six week parenting program that supports parents in teaching their children to understand and manage their emotions.

Dates: Fridays (16 February - 23 March 2018)
Time: 9.30am to 11.30am
Location: Keon Park Children's Hub 1-7 Dole Avenue, Keon Park

Dates: Fridays (26 October - 30 November 2018)
Time: 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Location: Reservoir Community and Learning Centre 23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir

Cost: Free
Registrations: Call 9496 1018 or email
Further information: Download the Tuning into Kids flyer



Child FIRST is a centralised telephone intake service that provides information and referral on services for vulnerable children and their families.

Phone: 9450 0955

Family Support Services
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
Phone: 9496 1018

We offer a variety of sessions for parents year-round to learn new techniques to help raise your child.

For complete details about our forthcoming programs see the  upcoming January - June 2019 Parenting Seminars Calendar

BOOKINGS: Bookings are essential as places are strictly limited, so book now.

Parenting Seminars available January-June 2019:

  • Emotional Intelligence - explore ways to build emotional intelligence in young children including how to recognise their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them.
  • Sleep and Settling - practical information session for parents and carers of babies aged 0-12 months.
  • Promoting Children's Development (0-3 years) - this session will provide parents and carers with information and advice on how to promote children's development.
  • Babies and Food in the First Year - focuses on healthy eating and introducing solids to babies 0-12 months.
  • Postnatal Care for Mums - information session on self care for mums including back care and reintroducing exercise that you can do with your baby.
  • Baby Massage - a hands on baby massage session for parents, grandparents and carers of infants aged 6 weeks to 4 months.
  • Fathers Sessions with Dr Andrew Wake - information and advice for dads on helping children manage their emotions.
  • Tuning into Your Baby - learn about your child's physical development through play.
  • Play and Creativity - a fun and interactive workshop with lots of tips and ideas for creative play for children aged 0-5 years.
  • Managing Food Refusal (1-4 years) - information and practical ideas about eating and nutrition for fussy eaters aged 1-4 years
  • Helping Children with Separation and Divorce - this seminar will explore ways to help your child manage this tricky time.
  • How Your Baby Moves in the First Year - a practical session where you will learn about the development of your baby's movement skills from birth to 12 months.
  • Teenagers and Their Specific Issues - information on parenting teenagers and their specific issues.
  • Anxiety in Young Children - in this seminar we will explore some ways to help children manage their fears and worries.
  • Mindfulness for Parents and Children (3-8 years) - explore how parent and child mindfulness can reduce anxiety and benefit the whole family.

Playgroups are a fun, supportive environment for children to play and develop social skills with other children

Playgroups provide:
  • An opportunity for parents, grandparents, caregivers and children aged 0 to school age to come together in a safe, relaxed environment, anywhere where groups of people can meet.
  • A low cost, effective way to introduce children to play, have fun, make friends and develop new skills through play.
  • Parents the opportunity to meet other parents, play with their children and become involved in their community.
Playgroups lay the foundation for children to:
  • Have a strong sense of identity
  • Connect with and contribute to their world
  • Have a strong sense of wellbeing
  • Become confident and involved learners
  • Be effective communicators

Why go to a Playgroup?
Participation in playgroup can benefit children, adults and the community. Children under five years go through a stage of rapid brain and skill development. Children thrive when exposed to positive early childhood experiences that foster their intellectual, social and emotional development in the early years.

Playgroups in Darebin
Each playgroup is unique offering a wide range of choice to families in the community. Most of the groups are community playgroups which are self-managed by the parents and/or caregivers who attend the playgroup.

Find a Playgroup in Darebin
Playgroups provide opportunities for families with young children (aged 0-5) to meet new people, and build on their children's social, physical and cognitive development by learning through play. For a list of local playgroups visit the Community Playgroups in Darebin Database.

Further Information:
Playgroup Officer
Ph: 8470 8347

Supported Playgroups

Supported playgroups run during the week at various venues across Darebin during school terms. They are facilitated by qualified staff and are for parents of children aged 0-4 years. By taking part in Supported Playgroup (funded by the Department of Education and Training) you and your child will benefit by:

  • Learning new ideas for your child's learning and development
  • Giving your child a chance to play with other children
  • Meeting other parents and carers

Supported Playgroups Flyer

For more information on locations, session times and eligibility contact:

Family and Community Programs
Ph: 8470 8920

2019 Nature Play Week Event for Children aged 0-5 years

In partnership with Moreland and Yarra Councils, the City of Darebin is hosting a Nature Play Week on 17 April 10.00am-11.30am at Merri Park! The event is Free and no bookings are required. There will be songs, stories and lots of activities to participate in.  View the event flyer here.

For more information contact:

Ph: 8470 8347 


2019 National Playgroup Week

To celebrate National Playgroup Week we’re hosting a free playgroup event for children aged 0-5 years at All Abilities Playspace in Bundoora on Wednesday 27 March. Bring along the little ones for water play activities and story time and songs by Darebin Libraries. This event is FREE, and there is no need to book – just turn up on the day! View the event flyer here.

For more information contact:

Ph: 8470 8347 



Play is so important for children’s health, wellbeing, learning and development. These maps are a celebration of simple, inexpensive ideas to get all children playing, while exploring all the wonderful places and spaces Darebin has to offer.

We reached out to the children and families in playgroups, child care centres, kindergartens and Primary Schools across Darebin to ask them what they enjoyed when and where they play. These consultations formed the backbone to creating the Darebin Play Maps.

The Play Maps are designed to be used by children and families to stimulate ideas, give prompts and mark out the local spaces that children love to play in. While every effort has been made to make sure the play suggestions are appropriate, families need to use their own common sense and boundaries to ensure that their children are safe.

Darebin Play Maps Information Sheet

Alphington & Fairfield Play Map
Kingsbury Play Map
MacLeod & Bundoora Play Map
Northcote Play Map
Preston Play Map
Preston East Play Map
Preston West Play Map
Preston South & Thornbury Play Map
Reservoir East Play Map 
Reservoir West Play Map
Reservoir North East Play Map
Reservoir North West Play Map
Thornbury & Northcote North
West Thornbury & Northcote Play Map

Project Credits: 
Lead Artist & Facilitator: Cat Sewell
Darebin Council Partner: Linda Harman
Darebin Council Playgroup support: Michelle Prendergast
Graphic Design: Tricia Brady
Photographer/Videographer: Bryony Jackson, Andrew Fraser & Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore
Sound Recordists: Zoe Barry, Steph O’Hara & Corey McGregor
Sound editing for Play Map films: Zoe Barry
Video editing for Play Map films: Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore.

These maps are a celebration of simple, inexpensive ideas to get all children playing, while exploring all the wonderful places and spaces Darebin has to offer!