Family Support

Best Start

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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 works collaboratively with community and service providers to strengthen services and address vulnerability and disadvantage. 

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

Family Violence

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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 

Family Violence Resources

Northern Region Family Violence Help Cards

The cards are also available in 14 languages and can be ordered from Women’s Health in the North, Northern Integrated Family Violence Services

Same-Sex Relationships - Love or Control? Abuse in Same Sex Relationships

Easy English -Family Violence Resource

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

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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

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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.

Circle of Security Parenting Group 

For parents of children aged 0-8 years old.

This program will help you understand your child's emotional needs, strengthen your attachment and relationship with your child, give you knowledge to better respond to your child's needs and help you reflect on your current parenting practices.

Date, Time & Location: 

Term 1 2017  (8 February to 29 March)
Wednesday 10.00am - 12 noon
Keon Park Children's Hub
1-7 Dole Avenue, Keon Park

Term 4 2017 (25 October to 13 December)
Wednesday 10.00am - 12 noon
Darebin North East Community Hub
35 Copernicus Crescent, Bundoora

Cost: Free

Contact: Family Support Services (03) 8470 8920 for more information and to register.


Rhythm and Rhyme Time Group:

For parents and babies 0-12 months old
Enjoy songs, rhymes and stories with your child

Date, Time & Location: 

Wednesday 1.30pm - 3.00pm during the school terms
Reservoir Neighbourhood House
2B Cuthbert Rd, Reservoir (next to Reservoir Leisure Centre)

 Cost: Free

Contact: Family Support Services on (03) 8470 8920 for more information and to register.



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

Ph: (03) 9450 0955


Family Support Services

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
Ph: (03) 8470 8920


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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.
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 contact the Playgroup Officer on 8470 8347 or email .
You can also visit the Playgroup Victoria website to find a playgroup in Darebin.

Supported Playgroups (formerly known as smalltalk Playgroup)

Supported Playgroups are facilitated by qualified staff and are for parents of children aged 0-4 years.

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.  Supported Playgroups are funded by the Department of Education and Training.

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

Family Support Services on

Ph: (03) 8470 8920

 Supported Playgroups Flyer 2017

Playgroup in the Park

The City of Darebin will be running free playgroups in parks across Darebin for families with children aged 0 – 4. Families with young children are welcome to take part in these playgroups, which will include story time, songs and lots of fun activities for everyone to enjoy. Fruit and water will be provided during the playgroup sessions.  

City of Darebin staff will be available to answer questions about services for families with young children. Information will also be available to families who are looking to start or join a playgroup.

Playgroup in the Park sessions for 2017:

Wednesday 15 February 
Edwardes Lake Park (Griffiths St, Reservoir, next to the playground)

Wednesday 29 March
All Nations Park (Separation St, Northcote)

Friday 27 October
Bundoora All Abilities Playspace (1069 Plenty Rd, Bundoora, next to Cooper's Settlement)

Monday 20 November
W.R. Ruthven Reserve (Malpas St, Preston)

Drop in Play Sessions

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

Darebin City Council will be offering a number of free Drop in 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 Drop in 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.

Thornbury Early Years Drop in Play session flyer

Keon Park Children's Hub Drop in Play session flyer


Family Support and Counselling

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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