April is Rotary International Maternal and Child Health month, marking one of the six key focus areas for The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Club of Glenferrie has marked the event with a presentation from Dianne Sides, President of the Boroondara Family Network (BFN), who was Guest Speaker at the club meeting via ZOOM on Tuesday. Dianne spoke of the establishment of  BFN by the Rotary Club of Glenferrie in 1998 and was presented with a contribution of $5,000 from the Rotary Club of Glenferrie towards this year's running costs.
Dianne thanked our Club for its ongoing support over the years , as the only Rotary club that has supported BFN for the last 20 years without fail, with many members directly involved.
The role of BFN usually starts shortly after a mother arrives home from hospital with a newborn baby and may continue with children up to six years old. The majority of referrals come from the Maternal and Child  Health Service when the nurse becomes aware that the mother is having more than normal problems.
Reasons for referral include social isolation, common when couples move into flats or homes distant from family, postnatal depression, lack of  a support network - especially family support, and multiple births. BFN has helped care for many sets of twins, a few triplets and one set of quads over the years.
Assistance is provided by a volunteer visiting the home of the mother and mentoring them on how to cope with baby care, housework and family care all at the same time. Encouragement that they are succeeding is an important factor. BFN averages about 40 volunteers available at a time, of these  usually more than 20 are active, each being allocated to a mother as required. The volunteers have to have been mothers themselves and a majority are already grandmothers as this is the age group that has the time and resources to devote to helping others.
Financially BFN is dependant on donations and grants, with grants from City of  Boroondara of up to $9,000 p.a. over the last 6 years.
Also $10,000 p.a. from Boroondara Cares Foundation over the last 3 years which is going to be increased to $13,000.
Donations from Rotary Clubs, private donations and fundraising activities make up the rest.
Dianne was officially presented with this year's contribution from the Rotary Club of Glenferrie of $5,000, raised through the Boroondara Farmers Market.
The future looks bright for BFN at the moment and they are hoping to lift their income to  employ a part-time office assistant and increase the number of mums they can help. A possible new venture is involvement in ante-natal depression assistance, which is a factor in post-natal problems.
Robert Hogan
Meeting Chair and
Treasurer, Boroondara Family Network