Shelley Fallowfield

Biography

Shelley Fallowfield has worked supporting parents and their children for the past 20 years. Shelley has worked in mental health, drug and alcohol, family violence, parent assessment and skills development. Utilising her Psychology and Education background as a platform and her extensive experience in the field, she understands the complexity of engaging vulnerable and at risk families. She has worked in partnership with hospitals and community health centres, creating portfolios to support pregnant women experiencing drug and alcohol issues as inpatients and outpatients both here and in New Zealand. Most recently Shelley worked in the family violence sector facilitating Men’s Behaviour Change Programs and further to this faciliting family violence support groups for women and children with a particular focus on supporting CALD communities. Currently Shelley co-ordinates the early matters program at Relationships Australia which offers a suite of services to engage parents and their children at three critical transition points, birth, kinder to school, primary school to high school. These universal service programs focus on promoting and strengthening healthy and safe relationships, to prevent families from entering a stressful pathway. Shelley has an ongoing commitment to supporting families to make safe choices for their children.

Abstract

“early matters” is an innovative primary prevention program targeting three key transition points; birth, kinder to school, and transitioning from primary to secondary school. The early matters program developed by Relationships Australia Victoria aims to offer early intervention and primary prevention services in universal settings, to families and children at these critical and often stressful transition points where resilience is tested. The program is specifically designed to support families and children in order to divert them from entering tertiary services. It seeks to promote and strengthen healthy and safe relationships, engaging parents to support child and youth wellbeing and learning outcomes around emotional intelligence and healthy relationships.
The group work component incorporates 3 programs in universal services to support health and wellbeing of families. Our home visiting model comprises multi risk assessment and encourages parenting practices that promote healthy relationships, and works to shift the balance between risk and protective factors, therefore building resilience.
This universal approach allows at risk families to be identified early and creates the opportunity to support families to strengthen protective and resilience factors, and to address mental health and psychosocial concerns as early as possible. Relationships Australia has a significant focus on research and evidence-based practice.
This presentation will draw on the skills and passion of the early matters team to showcase the program at a grass roots level, and to offer a new paradigm for providing engagement services to parents and children.
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