Image: Central West Health Allied Health Team Leader Liz McDonald – left – and Social Worker Kathryn Willett, with one of the Outback Bub packs.

A baby hamper initiative by Central West Hospital and Health Service is proving a blessing for families experiencing personal crises across the region.

Project coordinator and Social Worker Kathryn Willett has worked to identify the best items and find local sources.

“Local families, individuals and businesses have jumped on board with donations to fill the hampers thanks to a shout-out on social media,” Ms Willett said.

“The hampers, which we are calling Outback Bub packs, include clothes, baby care products, toys and essential household items to a value of about $100.

“We provide them to families and individuals who access our social worker service for many reasons, whether that be domestic violence situations, financial distress or medical complications both before and after the birth of their child.

“Thanks to the generosity of local families and businesses, and the reach of social media, we have received a continuous flow of donations to help make up our hampers.

“It is a true measure of the level of understanding in our Central West community about the issues that may affect at-risk families in our region.

“It’s so heartening to see our collective response has been to acknowledge these issues, seek to understand more and to give with generosity and compassion.

“These hampers not only provide practical solutions for family and baby care, they also help with restoring trust in the values of the wider community.

“Access to an Outback Bub pack is entirely confidential and families or individuals in need should not hesitate to approach the Central West Health Social Worker Service for help, whether it be for a hamper or for any of our services.’’

Ms Willett said the Social Worker Service aimed to create a safe place to meet with and get to know the clients referred to their service.

“We want our clients always to be completely comfortable with the idea of reaching out for help to achieve a sense of wellbeing,’’ she said.

Ms Willett said the Social Worker Service was able to carry out a comprehensive assessment of a client’s needs, including crisis intervention, short-term support and arranging links to longer-term support providers such as community groups and Domestic Violence Support.

“We also help them navigate the various available support systems such as Centrelink or the National Disability Insurance Scheme and provide advocacy for those who may have barriers to accessing appropriate health care,’’ she said.

“We can help identify the causes and triggers of the distress in their personal situations and help them put in place feasible solutions.

“This can be incredibly empowering for many clients.’’

Ms Willett said many of her referrals involved pregnant women and typically come from midwives or medical practices within the Central West.

The Outback Bub pack initiative has the support of the Central West Health Maternity Unit located at Longreach Hospital.

“When I receive such a referral, or any other referral, we complete a biopsychosocial assessment with the individual and, if appropriate, their families and then explore their options,’’ Ms Willett said.

“If it becomes apparent that there are multiple complex barriers, I will discuss the Outback Bub pack with the client as a starting point and then provide offers to assist with addressing the personal issues affecting them.

“So far, I have provided the packs on an as-needed basis on my assessment of the person and their support systems.

“We’ve given out five over the past few months and will continue to do so as needed, with the continuing support of our generous community.’’

To access the Central West Health Social Worker Service:

  • People can get referrals from their GP or community organisation,
  • Or, self-referrals can be made by contacting the Social Worker Service on 4652 7960.