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.

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

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

Darebin Family Violence Services

Berry Street Family and Domestic Violence Service - 9450 4700
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (24 hrs) 1800 015 188
InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence  - 1800 755 988 

Preventing Violence Against Women 

Darebin has a strong commitment to preventing violence against women before it occurs, for more details please visit 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 July- December 2018 Parenting Seminars Calendar.

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

Upcoming Sessions available for bookings:

  • Sleep and Settling
  • Babies and Food in the First Year
  • Promoting Children's Development
  • Siblings without Rivalry
  • Tuning into Your Baby
  • Mindfulness for Parents
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Anxiety in Young Children
  • Communication Development in 1-2 year olds
  • Baby Massage
  • Building Resilience in Children
  • Risky Play

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

Kingsbury Play Map

This map was developed as part of the Kingsbury Play Map Project, led by artist and play specialist, Cat Sewell, as part of the Darebin Arts Partnership Initiative.

Children from local playgroups, kindergarten and schools were consulted as to where and what they like to play in their local area.

The project aims to bring the simple joys of play into the limelight, and to bring communities closer together through stories and memories of play. 

Click here for the Kingsbury Play Map.

Project Credits:
Lead Artist - Cat Sewell
Graphic Design - Tricia Brady
Sound Artists - Zoë Barry & Corey McGregor
Video Artists - Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore & Andrew Fraser
City of Darebin partner - Linda Harman

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.
Playgroup Foundations

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.

Community Playgroups in Darebin

There are a range of Community Playgroups offered in Darebin. The aim of these playgroups is to 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 further information about Community Playgroups in Darebin, please go to the Community Playgroups in Darebin Database. You can also contact the Playgroup Officer on 8470 8347 or email .

Supported Playgroups (Funded by the Department of Education and Training)

By taking part in Supported Playgroup 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 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.   

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

Family and Community Programs on

Ph: (03) 8470 8920

Supported Playgroups Flyer 2018

Lets Play! Sessions

Participation in play gives children the opportunity to learn, develop and grow.

Darebin City Council will be offering a number of free Let's Play! sessions at the Thornbury Early Years Centre and Keon Park Children's Hub throughout the year and families with children aged 0-4 are welcome to attend. 

No Booking required. However, for Safety and Enjoyment of Families Participating in Let's Play!, a maximum of 15 families for Thornbury Early Years Centre and a maximum of 20 families for Keon Park Children's Hub can attend each session. Please use the link below for more information.

Let's Play session (Thornbury Early Years) flyer

Let's Play session (Keon Park Children's Hub) flyer

Drop in Play for Kids and Dads Sessions (Saturdays)

In partnership with Children's Protection Society, Darebin City Council will be running four play sessions for Fathers/male carers with young children aged 0-5. The play sessions will provide lots of opportunities to have quality play time with your child and will finish with some songs and a story.

No Booking required. However, for Safety and Enjoyment of Families Participating in Drop in Play for Kids and Dads, a maximum of 15 families can attend each session.

Drop in Play for Kids and Dads flyer