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:

Parent-Child Mother Goose Program - Term 1, 2020
Wednesday 12 February - 25 March 2020, 10.00am - 11.00am (weekly) at Reservoir Community and Learning Centre 23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir

Parenting After Violence - To be confirmed.

Circle of Security - To be confirmed.

Tuning into Teens - To be confirmed.

Helping Children with Separation and Divorce -To be confirmed.


BOOKINGS / ENQUIRIES: (03) 8470 8018


Single Parent Families

Single parent families include families where there may be a mother or a father or even a grandparent raising children.  These families may be experiencing additional pressure due to the stresses involved with raising their children, managing a household, working and keeping ahead of household bills.

Darebin Council has a range of services to assist single parent families.  The following links on the website may be useful:

Supported Playgroups and Play maps  - FamilySupport

Free Exercise - Get Active in Darebin and Darebin Leisure Centres - Sport and Leisure

School Holiday Program - Childrens Services

Youth Programs - Youth

Families with Disabilities (NDIS) - PeoplewithDisability

Emergency Relief and Financial Assistance in Darebin - HealthandWellbeing

Financial Assistance for Single Parent Families

Single parent families who are eligible for a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card are eligible for a discount on:

  • Municipal Rates
  • Pet registration
  • Green waste collection
  • Kindergarten and child care application lodgement fees. 
  • Toy Library joining fees.


Government grants are also available for eligible residents experiencing financial hardship.  Grants can provide help to pay electricity, gas or water bills that are overdue due to a temporary financial crisis.  Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Victorian Government are assisting eligible Victorians to find and switch to a better, cheaper energy offer saving them hundreds of dollars.  Assistance is provided to liaise with energy providers. 

Utility Relief Grant

Your Energy Broker

For information relating to Centrelink Concession cards Centrelink Concession Information 

Darebin Maternal and Child Health can also assist families in need of resources for their babies and toddlers.  We work closely with St Kilda Mums and Big Group Hug to provide essential items for families experiencing financial hardship.  For more information talk to your Maternal and Child Health Nurse or call 8470 8298.

Due to the "No Jab, No Play" and "No Jab, No Pay" legislation, immunisations for children 19 years and under must be up to date on the Australian Immunisation Register.  The Darebin Immunisation Service can assist all families with updating the register and providing catch up immunisations.   For all enquiries telephone the service on 8470 8562.

Darebin Community Portal 

The Darebin Community Portal is a directory of services in Darebin and surrounding areas.   The portal provides a comprehensive list of services that may assist single parent families.  The portal lists organisations that provide counselling, emergency relief, women's and men's services, child care options, housing support and legal advice.


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 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). 

The Orange Door in North Eastern Melbourne: T: 1800 319 355
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
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.

Term 1, 2020
Wednesday 12 February to 25 March 2020 (weekly) 10.00am-11.00am
Reservoir Community and Learning Centre 23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir
Enquiries and Bookings: 8470 8018 / 9496 1018 

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.
Dates: To Be Confirmed

A group for women dealing with the effects of Family Violence.
Dates: To Be Confirmed

A program that supports parents of adolescents aged 10-18 years. Learn how to understand and manage their emotions.
Dates: To Be Confirmed


ORANGE DOOR (in North Eastern Melbourne)
Orange Door is a centralised telephone intake service that provides information and referral on services for vulnerable children and their families.
Phone: 1800 319 355

Darebin Family Services
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
Phone: 8470 8018

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

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.

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.

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:
Early Years Leader
Ph: 8470 8113

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!