A select group which provides practical help to Western Australian parents to reduce family breakdown, child abuse and juvenile offending, has received special recognition.
In the past year, the group has helped more than 700 parents and families through problems such as management of child behaviour, low self-esteem and isolation.
Community Services Minister Eric Ripper last night presented the annual Pat Monkhouse award to nine parent helpers who provided outreach counselling and parent education. They worked through the Department for Community Services-funded Parent Help Centre in Mount Lawley.
"These parent helpers reflect the fundamental philosophy of the Government's $180 million Social Advantage package, which is to focus services on early intervention," the Minister said.
"They deal with issues in their early development and seek to resolve them before they become major problems. It is far better to provide assistance to parents now, rather than later having to place a child into foster care or locking them into a detention centre in ten years."
The Pat Monkhouse award, named after a renowned parent helper who was one of the first to work with the centre, recognised exceptional efforts in assisting troubled families.
Mr Ripper said parent helpers were para-professional staff who provided a low key, informal and non-threatening service under social worker supervision.
The Parent Help Centre (phone 272 1466) provided a Statewide service to all parents, particularly those with children up to six years of age. It worked to prevent and reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect through a range of parent education programs.
"In the three-year history of the award, this is the first time it has been presented to a group of people instead of an individual," the Minister said.
"The award winners are all parents themselves and some have been working to help families, through centre-based outreach services, for up to 13 years."
The award winners were:
· Colleen Dransfield, Elaine Dunkerley, Sharon Fiorentino and Maureen O'Callaghan from the Granny Spiers Neighbourhood House in Heathridge;
· Cath Dunleavy and Ingrid Vajda from the Midvale Neighbourhood Centre in Midland;
· Maureen Healy from Minnawarra House in Armadale;
· Shirley King from Ngala, Rockingham, and Frank Konency house in Parmelia, and
· Liz Nicholls from Sudbury House in Mirrabooka.
The Minister said the Government, through programs such as the Parent Help Centre, was committed to providing practical help for families and to promoting a good quality of life for children, thus preventing future social problems.