Ready Steady Family
June 2023 – June 2025
The Australian Government’s Department of Health 2018 Needs Assessment Report indicated a low uptake of referrals with new parents, despite the significant prevalence of mental health difficulties within the postnatal period. To address this, an evidence-based service providing an appropriate level of support, based on need, was implemented.
In 2019, Drummond Street Services were contracted to implement a program called Ready Steady Family (RSF). Based on the success of its initial iteration, it was re-commissioned and expanded in June 2023.
RSF is targeted at parents in the antenatal and postnatal periods. It aims to enhance parental mental health and wellbeing, and prevent the onset, relapse or exacerbation of perinatal mental health difficulties during the transition to parenthood. The service prioritises culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, LGBTQI+ families, refugee families and people living with disability.
This program works as a stepped-care model that provides tailored services based on specialised intake risk assessment and identification of risk factors with all parents and caregivers in each family. Based on the assessment, the family is allocated a brief, medium or intensive intervention, relating to their needs and known evidence-informed wellbeing domains including mental health and wellbeing, connected family relationships, safe family environment, confident caring, material security and community connections.
The RSF specialised screening tool utilised during the intake assessment is being widely promoted among primary health professionals in our region. The RSF team works with universal and specialist services (including GPs, midwives, maternal child health nurses, and mother-baby units in hospitals) to undertake ongoing risk screening and assessment throughout the antenatal and postnatal period.
As of July 2023:
- 685 clients engaged with this program for individual and family support since July 2019.
- There have been more than 5,550 attendances (including babies) in group programs and information seminars.
Further outcomes expected for this activity are:
- increased access to wellbeing and mental health services
- increased family functioning
- increased positive parent-child interactions
- increased mental health wellbeing for parents and carers
- improved coordination of services
- workforce development for identifying and responding to mental health risk factors for new and expecting parents
- improved capability for health professionals to provide quality care for people transitioning to parenthood
- strengthened protective factors for health parenting, such as health partner and family connections and social connectedness.
The program evaluation is led by Drummond Street’s Centre for Family Research and Evaluation in partnership with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. An evaluation report was published in late 2022, reporting improved mental health and wellbeing among program users. It shows that target cohorts are being reached, with a third of parents and caregivers in the program born overseas, and 1 in 5 speaking a language other than in English in the home.