Stronger families mean stronger communities

A family working together in a greenhouse.
  7 May 2021  NWMPHN   

National Families Week (15 to 21 May 2021) is Australia’s annual celebration of the vital role families play in building a healthy society. This year the theme is ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’.

The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) catchment is rapidly growing. The population under 17 years of age in our region was more 330,000 people in 2016; this number is expected to rise by more than 50 per cent by the year 2031.

We have certainly experienced some growing pains of late. The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the NWMPHN region, which experienced more than 40 per cent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases to date. Families across our region are continuing to experience turmoil, grief, economic hardship, and physical and mental ill health due to the pandemic and other factors.

GPs and other primary health care providers play a vital role in helping families through these unprecedented times. Below are some resources to help health professionals support children and their families.

Child and adolescent mental health psychiatry liaison service

This new service is part of our collaborative work with the Royal Children’s Hospital to improve access and outcomes for child and adolescent mental health. It provides GPs in our region with secondary consultations for managing mental health problems in children and adolescents.

The service is accessed by calling Mental Health Intake on 1800 44 55 11. GPs may request a secondary consultation for a patient aged 5–17 years of age with either established or suspected mental health disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders including ASD, ADHD and ID.

More information is available on our website.

Raising Children Network

Many people first experience mental ill health during childhood. Traumatic childhood experiences can lead directly to ongoing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders. is a trusted online parenting toolkit funded by the Australian Government. The site has a range of resources for parents and health professionals, including a new suite of resources for professionals caring for the mental health of children and adolescents.

A new community of practice for child mental health

NWMPHN has partnered with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) to co-design, implement and evaluate a community of practice (CoP) for child mental health. Through a telementoring model, the CoP aims to improve the capacity of primary and secondary care clinicians to identify and manage infant, child and adolescent mental health presentations. More information is available on our website.

Strengthening Care for Children Project

NWMPH has also partnered with MCRI and RCH to deliver this quality improvement project. The project is currently testing an integrated model of care that aims to:

  • strengthen the paediatric care skills of GPs
  • increase knowledge of child health and management in general practice
  • reduce the need for referrals to hospital services.

More information is available on our website.

New communications toolkit to reframe children’s mental health

Research shows that child mental health experts and practitioners working with children, parents/adults and families have different understandings about children’s mental health. The FrameWorks Institute and Emerging Minds have developed the Reframing Children’s Mental Health toolkit to help bridge this gap.

Family Violence Quality Improvement Project

In Victoria, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44. Estimates are that each full time GP will see up to five women per week with underlying intimate partner violence, but be unaware violence is happening in these families. We need to do more to deliver better primary care for these women and their families.

Applications are currently open for accredited and non-accredited general practices to join our Family Violence Quality Improvement Project with the Safer Families Centre. Participating practices will receive a $3,000 incentive payment for completing this RACGP-accredited CPD activity. More information and the application form are available on our website.

HeadtoHelp mental health services

Victorians of all ages can access the best mental health support available for them by calling 1800 595 212 or visiting

HeadtoHelp is a good option for people who need moderate to more intensive support for their mental health. A trained professional will listen and help connect you with the right support. People can be assessed and helped quickly.


HealthPathways MelbourneHealthPathways Melbourne logo

The following new pathways were published on HealthPathways Melbourne last month to support clinicians giving postnatal care:

A range of Royal Children’s Hospital Clinical Practice Guidelines have also been translated into clinical and referral pages on HealthPathways Melbourne. They support the delivery of better and safer care for children in general practice and reduce the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Family Violence pathways are also available.

GPs and health professionals are encouraged to use HealthPathways Melbourne for easy access to best practice clinical guidance at the point of care. Need a login? Request access online or contact