The Volunteer Family Connect program, and the Volunteer Family Connect research project, was built on a collaboration between The Benevolent Society, Save the Children Australia, Karitane and senior researchers from Macquarie University, Western Sydney University and The University of London Birkbeck. This joint alliance brings together deeply committed and very experienced service providers and researchers who work together to support the health and wellbeing of families, children and volunteers.
The Volunteer Family Connect program is designed to complement the child and family services already available within communities. It is designed for those families who feel isolated and would benefit from support to increase their connection to their local community, including connection to social networks, parenting supports, and to other services available locally. The volunteers are able to provide a bridge between home and community for those who struggle to make those connections themselves.
When designing the Volunteer Family Connect program, we reviewed many existing volunteer home visiting programs, and we reviewed the research that is currently available on volunteer home visiting. This information was used to develop what we think is a best practice model of volunteer home visiting. The research project will help us to further refine and develop the program so that it can be rolled out in other Australian communities where there is a need for this kind of family support.