In Community Voices: The 'Huddle' and 'Parenting Love and Stories'

In Community Voices: The ‘Huddle’ and ‘Parenting Love and Stories’

Associated research
This impact case draws on two studies, to illustrate the work of TeEACH in supporting community members to be part of generating their own solutions and strengthening their own communities. The ‘Huddle’ initiative began in 2017 and continues to engage the local community within Parramatta LGAs.  This project engages with diverse community members to identify what is working well for families raising young children, and what additional supports are needed for children who are developmentally vulnerable. The ‘Parenting Stories and Love’ (PS&L) Project grew out of the Huddle initiative. The PL&S project aims to address health inequities for culturally and linguistically diverse families by creating opportunities for parents to share their stories, culture and parenting successes and concerns. The project has worked with parents to develop resources, and to provide spaces for parents to share their experiences as this relates to cultural and parenting styles in a non-confrontational and accepting way. Sharing in group settings creates contexts for engagement and social support to mitigate the social isolation many families experience when parenting young children in a "new" country. This project is developing community connections between families to build stronger, more connected communities through social interactions between parents, carers, children, and service providers.  A three phase, co-designed research evaluation of the PS&L study is currently underway.

Industry partner and research end-users
The Huddle Initiative was initiated by the City of Parramatta Council through Stronger Communities Funding. Partners include the City of Parramatta Council, Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC), Boronia Multicultural Services, Karabi Community Centre and Cumberland Council and local community members.

Summary of the impact
The Huddle project has been successful in securing extensive community engagement and study findings have informed initiatives in the LGA. For example, parents expressed confusion around library services, leading to parent nervousness and under-utilisation of services, particularly by CALD parents. In response, the library implemented a parent education/information program about the services, which has been rolled out to preschools. This program has significantly boosted service engagement. Another parenting identified gap was the lack of access of transition to school programs for local families. As a result, the council has worked with the local schools to provide activities within the LGAs for parents and children that support school transition.

The City of Parramatta Council is committed to continuing its support of the Huddle Initiative and have recently partnered with us to develop community leadership within the Huddle group. We will support the delivery of training for community members and the development of community resources and capacity with the Huddle. Interested parents will be trained as ‘peer supporters’ who will provide information and support to families who are new arrivals to Australia.  A set of parenting resources for CALD parents that have developed in the PS&L study are being finalised, and will be available to parent groups within the Parramatta LGAs by December 2021.

Summary of approaches to impact
TeEACH members take a collaborative and engaged approach to supporting research impact. The SRI has facilitated and enlisted WSU resources to build trusting and ongoing relationships with the community and service providers by: engaging the community in consultation and co-design processes; providing research updates and regularly attending meetings; maintaining digital contact (WhatsApp, email, zoom meetings) over the extensive lockdown periods during 2020-21 and continuing; advising on additional Huddle programs; providing research evidence to support program ideas and complementary projects; and exploring opportunities to network and engage in further research projects, particularly in areas that directly impact on children and their families in the identified vulnerable LGAs and beyond.

TeEACH members have continued to build relationships and networks with service providers within the LGAs and expanded these collaborations to share information between groups, e.g. City of Parramatta Council staff have been engaged by WSU researchers to share information about the Huddle initiative with staff from other organisations focused on community development work and collaborations for impact with vulnerable communities. TeEACH members have assisted local community organisations, e.g. schools and non-profit groups, to apply for community grants and other suitable funding. Additionally, WSU researchers have collaborated with local schools to encourage and explore opportunities to collaborate. In total, approximately four new research grants have come from these collaborations, and we are awaiting their outcomes.