Family Support

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). 

Orange Door: The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children. This is also the support service for perpetrators of family violence. Ph: 1800 319 355 (North East region specific)

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre: Victoria's 24/7 family violence support service. Ph: 1800 015 188 (24 hours)

1800RESPECT: Open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. Ph: 1800 737 732

Djirra: Supports Aboriginal people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. Ph: 1800 105 303

Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA): Available 24/7 and provides face-to-face, telephone and online support services to victim/survivors of sexual assault. Ph: 1800 806 292

w|respect: A family violence and intimate partner violence service supporting LGBTIQ+ communities and their families. WithRespect offers a service model which can respond to both the person impacted by violence and the person using violence. Ph: 1800 542 847

InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: A specialist family violence service that works with multicultural women, their families and their communities. Ph: 1800 755 988

Seniors Rights Victoria: Provides a free helpline for people who are experiencing, or know someone who is experiencing elder abuse. Ph: 1300 368 821

Men’s Referral Service: This service from No to Violence offers assistance, information and counselling to help men who use family violence. Ph: 1300 766 491

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 Gender Equity Officer
Ph: (03) 8470 8498 or Email:


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

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

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

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

Update (27 August 2020) :  Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the parenting programs had been cancelled. However we have just started reintroducing the Sleep and Settling sessions as Sleep and Settling online clinics. The sessions will be presented via MS Teams. Go to "book now" to view the current sessions on offer.

We are still working on the gradual re-introduction of Babies and Food Sessions for the reminder of the year.  Further updates on program scheduling will be provided on this web page.

You can contact the Early Years Leader on 0413 807 858 or to be linked with other parenting services, programs and resources in Darebin.

Further resources for parents with young children listed below;

Information for Parents re COVID-19 

Playgroup Victoria – Play Ideas 
Playgroup Victoria have published play at home ideas for families in isolation: 


For complete details about our forthcoming programs see the  January - June 2020 Parenting Seminars Calendar.

BOOKINGS: Bookings are essential as places are strictly limited, so book now(Bookings for each session will be available about 5-6 weeks before the event).

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

Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter:  To assist with staying connected at a time where families are isolated and vulnerable, we are implementing new communication measures. A City of Darebin newsletter for community playgroups will provide families with parenting information, current COVID 19 advice, council services available and programs. The newsletter focuses on play at home activities and resources that are aged appropriate and based in accordance to Playgroup Victoria calendar theme. 

Term 3

9th Edition (7 September 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
8th Edition (31 August 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
7th Edition (24 August 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
6th Edition (17 August 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
5th Edition (10 August 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
4th Edition (3 August 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
3rd Edition (27 July 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
2nd Edition (20 July 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
1st Edition (13 July 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 

Term 2
7th Edition (15 June 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
6th Edition (8 June 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
5th Edition (1 June 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
4th Edition (25 May 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter
3rd Edition (18 May 2020) Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
2nd Edition (11 May 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter 
1st Edition (4 May 2020) - Darebin Community Playgroups Weekly Newsletter

Community playgroups and Supported playgroups Update (22 June 2020) : 

Although actual playgroups are not currently running in the COVID-19 environment, we are still actively working to link Darebin families with relevant parenting information, resources, services and programs.  

We are currently liaising with playgroup leaders and community venues about the resumption of community playgroups in the near future as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted.   Playgroups are a potentially high risk situation for cross-infection and it is difficult to social distance in many indoor venues.  As we march closer to the heart of winter, some playgroups may stay virtually connected for a while longer and wait until a later time to resume their playgroup sessions together in real life. We anticipate the face to face sessions will be a slow gradual phasing in and actual gatherings not introduced again until later in Term 3.  Many community venues are yet to open and will be required to make many changes to their design and layout to accommodate the new operational requirements for compliance with COVID-19 infection control and social distancing.  

We recommend that playgroups remain connected virtually and have conversations about how they would like to gather and operate as a playgroup moving forward.  Community Playgroup Leaders can contact the Early Years leader on 0413 807 858 / to discuss any concerns or enquires on how Darebin Council can support them through this process.
In the interim, we urge all playgroup leaders to continue to check the latest updates on Victoria’s COVID -19 quarantine restrictions as these directions are subject to change see .   It is important that all members of community share responsibility for keeping everyone safe in the community by following the directions of the State Government.
For your information, Darebin City Council is in the process of preparing community venues and buildings to be gradually reopened and to be equipped with resources to support compliance with COVID-19 social distancing and infection control.  Please refer to the Council’s website for further information on service updates

We are continuing to support families already connected with our supported playgroups, as well as accepting new referrals for our supported playgroups so that families can participate in these when they resume.

Our supported playgroup facilitators are all working remotely via phone, email and other platforms to meet the needs of families and to keep groups connected.  We can also support families in community playgroups, where required. Should you require further information, please contact our Early Years Team on 0413 807 858 or

Playgroup VictoriaRaising Children and Parent Child Mother Goose have also published some wonderful play at home ideas for families at home together. 


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

We provide members with a comprehensive range of toys and equipment suitable for children aged three months to six years. Staff can assist families to choose suitable toys on request relevant for the age of your child, children with specific interests and abilities, and children with additional needs.

Three toys can be borrowed for each child with a family membership, and six toys for a group membership. The borrowing period is four weeks and loans can be extended via email or phone. Toys and equipment are to be cleaned prior to return.

For current session times and locations see the hours of operation listed below. You can also sign up to the What's on for Families eNewsletter for details on local activities and seminars suitable for families.

Closure Notice!   

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the Toy Library sites are closed until further notice. Members can keep toys and equipment on loan until the library is reopened. No fines will be issued for late returns. Updates on the resumption of this service will be posted here. For enquiries about Toy Library please call 0427 787 061, email or visit

Hours of Operation  (Toy library is closed until further notice)
Day Time Location
 10.00am -  12noon  Northcote Family Centre
185 High Street, Northcote
(Corner James and High Streets)

(Closed during public holidays)

Annual Membership Fees:

Family : $47.00
Concession : $6.50
Group : $67.00
Student: $11.50
Grandparent: $11.50
Additional toy (small): $2.60
Additional toy (large): $5.60
Note: Overdue fees apply, and prices as at 1 January 2018.

To join the Toy Library: ! Please Note Membership registrations are currently closed until further notice.

  1. Complete the Toy Library Online Form - Online Membership applications have been postponed until further notice.
  2. Make your payment online via credit card or a PayPal account

Note: Printed forms are also available from all Toy Library sites, and payment can be made at any Darebin Customer Service Centre. (! Please Note Membership registrations are currently closed until further notice).

Click here for Toy Library brochure >

Further Information
Phone: 0427 787 061

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!