Using a Human Centred Design approach with Young Parents: Let’s not leave them behind
Young parents are among the most vulnerable of parenting groups in Australia. Statistics from 2015 show that 1.5% of births were to people under 18 years of age, accounting for over 4500 births.
Young parents experience multiple factors that place them and their children at risk including homelessness, financial distress, mental and physical health concerns, relationship breakdown and social isolation. These factors can have significant impact on their wellbeing and that of their children. With this in mind, it is necessary for young parents at risk to access supports such as parenting support programs, child and infant health services, play groups and day care. Many young parents find these intended supports can lack empathy for their circumstances, trigger feelings of shame and inadequacy thus reducing the likelihood of engagement. These experiences render young parents at greater risk of being left behind and when they are left behind, so are their children.
There is much written about the importance of early engagement with health and education in determining outcomes for children, especially in relation to school readiness, much of this occurs in the first 1000 days with exposure to peers and peer groups. For this reason it is important to engage young parents in supports early in their parenting journey.
In April 2018 the Young Parent Support Service operating in the Western Australian local government area of Gosnells undertook a project to improve engagement of young parents in support services. Central to the project was the application of a Human Centred Design (HCD) framework.
Within the community services sector, much attention is being given to the inclusion of service users in the design of services. Young parents, due to the complex nature of their circumstances, have rarely shared their perceptions and experiences of services designed for them.
The HCD process aimed to gain a deeper and richer understanding of young parents’ experience, identified barriers to engagement and to ideate and prototype new possibilities for service delivery.
This presentation will describe the client cohort, the HCD process, the key learnings as well as implications for future work in this area.
Bernie has developed a diverse range of experience in the health and community services sector over the course of more than twenty years. For eleven of those years, Bernie was privileged to live and work in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia during which time she worked and gained wisdom from the Martu people of the Western Desert. It was during her time in the Pilbara that Bernie also became a registered Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainer, a role she is passionate about and continues within her local community today.
For the last six years Bernie has worked for AnglicareWA in services such as Mental Health Carer Support and for the last year, she has been Coordinator of AnglicareWA’s Young Parent Support Service. Bernie has a passion for walking alongside vulnerable families in their own community and supporting them to reflect on their existing strengths and emotions and modelling how to use these to enjoy more harmonious relationships.