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Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 07/08/12

Andrea Travers interviewed Tweddle CEO Vivienne Amery for this month's edition of Melbourne Child. Vivienne talks about Tweddle's important services including our psychological-support services, a program for parents of children with special needs, breastfeeding support, and childbirth and parenting preparation programs.

Vivienne shared some insights around generational change, “So much has changed over time, a few generations ago – in the grandparents time – babies were often left with us without their parents staying, because it was a hospital. In the middle generation, the parents may or may not have stayed. Today, we wouldn’t take babies without their parents.”

While Tweddle helps parents establish sleep routines, settle into breastfeeding and so forth, Vivienne says the real key is that parents learn the value of positive interaction. Originally known as Tweddle Hospital For Babies and School of Mothercraft, the organisation’s focus was on caring for vulnerable children, including abandoned or foundling babies.

The present-day Tweddle Child and Family Health Service still supports vulnerable children, and more than 4000 families gain parenting skills and confidence each year through its services. Vivienne says staff­ and parents play a vital role in developing Tweddle’s programs so they stay relevant and responsive. Recently the organisation moved away from the parenting model of ‘controlled comforting’ to one in which parents are taught how to respond to their baby’s cues rather than sticking to a rigid formula that can cause distress.

“The whole idea of attachment and the understanding we now have through neuropsychology makes it clear that if these babies don’t get that comforting, nurturing and warmth, it has a profound eff­ect on their mental health throughout their lives,” says Vivienne.

She says issues such as societal dislocation and family financial instability will influence how Tweddle operates in future. “How you have been parented has a huge impact on how you parent yourself,” she says, “especially if you’re isolated from families and support. It’s very difficult to raise a child in that situation. We should never underestimate the touch of a hand, the hug, human warmth and how important that is to our health and lives.”

Click here to read Andrea Travers interview with Tweddle CEO Vivienne Amery in Melbourne's Child

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