When Dr Philomene Joshua first mooted the idea of setting up a Pregnancy Support Phone Service, she never imagined what that service, staffed with volunteers, would become.
Nor could Pat Coffey, founder of the Society’s branch in Shepparton, and who in 2016 was awarded an Order of Australia Medal honouring her ‘for her many years of selfless volunteering’.
Building on this heritage from the early days when a group of volunteers determined to support vulnerable pregnant women and women with babies, soon discovered that the need was great, today the Society’s work plays a vital role responding to the needs of women and their children on a range of issues including homelessness, mental health issues, family violence and social isolation.
While much has changed in the way services may have been delivered, it is the work of practitioners supported by volunteers who work with evidence informed programs and practices focusing on the ‘first 1000 days’of a child’s life – from the time of conception until a child is two years of age – including the importance of attachment, the impact of perinatal anxiety and depression, and the need to build parenting capacity in meeting the social and emotional needs and wellbeing of babies and children.
Today, the Society is recognised for its care, compassion and resilience; of dedication to women, their babies and their families; and as a professional community service, sector wide recognition for its specialisation in working with women during pregnancy and mothers and their preschool aged children.