Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, they say it takes a village to raise a child and today I am going to speak about a wonderful Launceston community centre for families in northern Tasmania.
Haven on Paterson operates from rooms in UnitingCare's offices in the Pilgrim Uniting Church in Paterson Street and is a multipurpose centre. Opened in February this year, the centre provides a safe, clean and welcoming environment where mums can breastfeed, parents can heat up their children's food, and where they can attend information sessions which support children, parents and the overall family.
Haven on Paterson is the Child Health Association of Tasmania - or better known as CHAT - response to feedback it had from northern Tasmanian families last year who said there was shortage of places in the city where they felt safe and comfortable to feed babies and young children. In contrast Hobart had The Haven since 2014, a drop-in venue where mums can have a cuppa, feed bub and the littlies, change the baby and enjoy the friendship of other parents.
Northern mums told CHAT they wanted somewhere like that too and CHAT put the call out for space in Launceston. Uniting Care Tasmania responded and offered CHAT space for an office, a play and meeting area and baby feeding and changing rooms in their offices inside the Pilgrim Uniting Church in Paterson Street.
CHAT State Executive Officer Liz Crane says UnitingCare Tasmania has given the space for free and provided incredible support. Haven on Paterson is run by CHAT's new northern regional coordinator Susannah Koch. Since beginning in her role in June, Susannah has been aiming to make it a sanctuary for parents when out with their young children and also a place where they can get the best information about parenting and childhood health.
The numbers of regulars attending is building well and Susannah has organised informative workshops and topics including first aid training for parents with young children, looking after your emotional health, early literacy, oral health, breastfeeding support, healthy family dinner ideas and the importance of reading rhymes to children to name but a few. There are plans to have student dieticians come in and talk to families about when to introduce solids to their babies. It has also been a place where many new friendships are formed between parents and children and has become quite a regular meeting place.
Liz Crane says Haven on Paterson is getting good interest from families and it is because it is very responsive. A first aid course was offered after parents asked for it and it is one of many examples where The Haven on Paterson aims to provide relevant and topical information.
UnitingCare's Pregnant and Young Parent Support Program uses the building once a week with up to 10 mums attending. A new casual session has been recently started for mothers with new babies and a group of Afghani mums recently approached the centre so they too may begin to use the space.
A mum who has been regularly attending as a parent and also as a volunteer since Haven on Paterson's is Sarah Davis. Sarah says she loves working with new mums and being new is something she knows a bit about. Sarah and her family moved from Western Australia roughly at the time when planning was happening for Haven on Paterson and Sarah got involved to make new friends and also to support parents and particularly first-time parents. She says it is nice to be able to sit down and have a cup of coffee together while the children burn off some energy. She feels the thing that is particularly special about Haven on Paterson is the connections made there and the fact parents know they can go there and feel supported and valued.
As with so many not-for-profit organisations, Haven on Paterson is run on a tight budget. People wanting to support its important work can contact CHAT about the sponsorship packages which are available.
The centre's Facebook page says Haven on Paterson is more than a parenting room. It is where community happens.
I applaud this wonderful centre which is making an incredible positive difference to northern Tasmanian families.