Families living in regional Victoria often have limited or reduced access to services due to their remote locality.
But for our Parenting team in Bendigo, distance is no deterrent.
Back in 2013, our Parenting Practitioners discovered a need for parenting education in regional towns, which prompted them to conduct a road trip up the Mallee region to deliver free workshops for parents.
This trip was a great success, with often over 30 parents attending workshops in each town they visited. Regional parents were eager to learn and connect with other parents like themselves.
Eight years later, the Mallee road trip has continued as a yearly event supporting parents across regional north-west Victoria.
Photos: Connecting with Kids workshop in Mildura with Lisa Castles and Julia Feiss (top and left); Boy’s Brains workshop in Ouyen (middle); Informal Parenting Conversations in Robinvale with Julia Feiss (right).
Monday 21 June marked day one of the four-day 2021 Mallee road trip for our Bendigo Parenting team, which was organised in consultation with a variety of organisations located in Ouyen, Robinvale, Mildura and Sea Lake.
The road trip team consisted of three CatholicCare Victoria Family Relationship Practitioners - Lisa Castles, Julia Feiss, and Maree Godsmark.
The Boy’s Brains workshop – day one
The team’s first stop was in Ouyen, where eighteen proactive parents engaged in the Boy’s Brains workshop hosted by the Victoria Hotel. This workshop was coordinated by both our Parenting team and the local kindergarten’s dedicated Director, Louise Fitzpatrick Leach.
The Boy’s Brains workshop aims to help parents better understand their boys, providing practical strategies for how to connect with them and support them to succeed.
Parents shared feedback during and after the workshop that the session helped provide ‘a better understanding of my little boy and his behaviours’ and increased participants ‘understanding of the science behind boy behaviour’.
“It was rewarding to hear parents acknowledge the importance of ‘talking through feelings’ with their boys and ‘building up emotional intelligence for themselves and their children’,” says Julia Feiss, Family Relationship Practitioner.
Building Resilience in Kids & Informal Parenting Conversations – day two
Day two saw the team deliver two workshops in Robinvale. The first was Building Resilience in Kids and the second was an evening session led by the participants using an Informal Parenting Conversations style of delivery.
These two sessions were coordinated in partnership with Robinvale Network House and Robinvale District Community Health.
Photos: Boy’s Brains workshop in Ouyen (top); Building Resilience in Kids workshop in Robinvale (bottom).
Connecting with Kids workshop – day three
Heading further north on day three, we were welcomed in Mildura by the Mildura Family and Child Hub Manager, Felicity Cummins. Our Connecting with Kids workshop was delivered at this beautiful Mildura Family and Child Hub which created a warm, calm, safe and inviting space for our 12 participants – who learned about using emotional intelligence to teach their children about managing their feelings.
Participants at this workshop shared that they ‘found Emotion Coaching really interesting’ and that they will ‘acknowledge their own emotions a little more’ as a result.
Parents also noted that they gained more insight into emotional regulation and methods to assist their children, and the importance of being ‘reflective before reactive’ when supporting children and their feelings.
There was a clear appetite for the content of this workshop and such gratitude for the learning opportunity. Parents requested we return soon and provide a longer session next time!
Understanding Grief and Loss workshop – day four
On the drive southward, our Parenting team had a final workshop scheduled in the Buloke Shire township of Sea Lake. Another remote and somewhat isolated community that rarely sees organisations bring services to them.
After a number of very sad and tragic events that have occurred in the community over the last 12 months, the principal of the local Catholic primary school asked our team to support local residents through the delivery of an Understanding Grief and Loss workshop.
This workshop looks at what grief is and the impact of change, loss and grief on our lives - it helps people to build understanding about how children grieve and how to support those who are grieving.
Despite the difficult circumstances that brought an intimate group of locals together for this workshop, the participants were warm, welcoming and grateful for the time and space we shared with them.
Once the content and workshop were complete, honest and heart-breaking stories and experiences were shared by individuals, and at times, some laughter too. The resilience, sense of community and love in these small towns is profound and it felt like such a privilege to be with these people during a really difficult time.
Photos: Understanding Grief and Loss workshop in Sea Lake with Maree Godsmark (left); sunrise at Lake Tyrrell (right).
To wrap up the successful 2021 Mallee road trip and allow some time for reflection, our team got up for a spectacular sunrise over Lake Tyrrell, just north of Sea Lake.
Despite the big few days, the drive back was high energy with lots of conversation about the rewarding work engaging with communities and people who so often feel forgotten, and planning for how we can continue to engage and connect with those who need it most.
Schools, Early Learning/Childcare centres, and social service agencies in regional towns across the Mallee region can enquire about our Mallee road trip or access our online parenting workshops through Zoom by contacting Jo Rodriguez (Team Leader, Loddon Mallee Regional Parenting Team) at our Bendigo office on (03) 5438 1300.
Our Parenting team also offer parenting education for parents located in Bendigo and surrounds through online and face-to-face workshops.
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Lisa Castles, Julia Feiss, Maree Godsmark | Family Relationship Practitioners, Loddon Mallee Regional Parenting Team
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