Raphael Services' inaugural conference creates fresh momentum

The inaugural St John of God Raphael Services WA Driving Change conference has created fresh momentum for a change in the way agencies work together to support WA families with pregnancy and parenting.

The event brought together 130 industry representatives including nurses, midwives, mental health clinicians, Aboriginal health workers and medical specialists to exchange ideas and learn more about the potential impact of alcohol and other drugs (AoD) on pregnancy and early parenting outcomes.

Whadjuk Noongar woman, Ingrid Cumming, opened the conference with an interactive song as part of her Welcome to Country ceremony which set the tone for the day.

The event, held during Infant Mental Health Week, was packed with an impressive line-up of industry experts who shared research and practices to highlight the need to address AoD use in pregnancy and early parenting to support better outcomes for families.

One of the key messages from the day was the importance of the father’s role and the need to include dads in all elements of care, especially in reducing alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

St John of God Social Outreach Chief Executive Officer Bev East highlighted the importance of inter-agency collaboration in order to provide holistic care for WA families experiencing AoD impacts in the perinatal period.

“We know that this critical life stage of pregnancy and early parenting can significantly impact a child’s long-term development. In order for WA families to receive the best possible care and health outcomes services need to work together,” Bev said.

Driving Change Conference Group PhotoRaphael Services WA Manager Donna Kristianopulos said the event emphasised the range of support services available across the state.

“Ensuring families have access to the right mix of support and care is critical to addressing those with complex needs,” she said.

“It was great to see so many representatives from a variety of organisations across the state, coming together in an effort to drive change.”

The conference at Bendat Parent and Community Centre also heard from an inspirational mum who spoke candidly about her personal journey and recovery which she hoped would help other families on a similar journey.

She shared her story about a difficult pregnancy and birth, an unsettled newborn and how this led to anxiety and reliance on prescription medication.

The final evaluation of the day demonstrated an intent to drive change in practice and a positive shift in knowledge to support better outcomes for WA families.

Driving Change was the first conference of its kind in WA to explore research, practices and developments in the field of AoD during pregnancy and parenting.

It provided health professionals working with families during these critical life stages the opportunity to learn from each other, work together and drive change in order to improve pregnancy and early parenting outcomes.

St John of God Raphael Services supports parents through the emotional challenges of pregnancy and early parenthood, so their families can flourish.

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