New mums rally for Northern Rivers Family Care Centre
NEW mums are worried the Northern Rivers Family Care Centre, in Lismore, will close its doors on June 30.
They say the free service, that in many cases has "saved lives", is at risk if North Coast NSW Medicare Local decides not to continue its funding.
The centre is staffed by specialist nurses and social workers and runs mothers' support groups for babies under one year and for babies aged two weeks to 10 weeks.
It also holds regular outreach clinics at Iluka, Ballina and Ocean Shores and helps women with sleep or feeding problems.
The Northern Rivers Family Care Centre supports parents with children from four weeks to around one year of age with:
- Transition to parenthood
- Parenting skills
- Unsettled behaviour and sleep patterns
- Feeding (breast, weaning, bottle, solids)
- Perinatal distress
- Multiple births
"Women come here from as far as Dunoon for support. The staff are magical and selfless," Elise Taylor of Goonellabah, mother of six-month-old Nash, said.
"In many cases they help women who may slip through the cracks with post-natal depression.
"We are worried that, after us, this service will not be available to mums in need."
Ms Taylor began using the centre when her baby was five weeks old and not sleeping during the day.
"I've been attending the weekly mothers' group ever since," she said. "As a first-time mum with no family on the Northern Rivers, the centre has been invaluable."
Lauren Edwards, of Lismore, said her first baby, Elliott, now five months, wouldn't settle at all when he was born.
"I came to the centre for three days for help with sleeping," she said. "I needed to adjust to parenthood.
"The staff were amazing and they check in to make sure you are coping."
Michelle Dess, of Lismore Heights, had her baby Toby, now six months, in a private hospital in Queensland.
She said she the centre was a great source of support and information, where she could network with other mums.
Mothers who use the centre have been writing letters to Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, urging her to keep the service open.
They have also set up a Facebook page.
North Coast NSW Medicare Local chief executive Vahid Saberi declined to comment on future funding.