Three variations on the Australian supported playgroup model
The supported playgroup model has widespread popularity in Australia, though its informality may work against building the evidence base needed to sustain governmental funding. The wide uptake of the supported playgroup service model among community organisations in Australia demonstrates its potential and popularity. This article discusses the Families New South Wales (NSW) supported playgroup model and demonstrates how it can be adapted to meet the needs of a variety of target populations. Three programmes utilising the supported playgroup model are described, serving parents and carers living in areas of economic disadvantage, mothers living with mental illness and parents and carers of children with disabilities. Each case study highlights how the programme operationalises the Families NSW supported playgroup model. The article provides a conceptual framework, drawing on relevant social theory about potential impacts at the levels of policy, organisations, community and parent−child relationships, with recommendations for future research. Key Practitioner Message: •The Australian supported playgroup model combines parent peer support, child opportunities for play and referrals to community services; • This model works with a variety of populations as a prevention strategy and soft entry point for community services; • Theory supports potential outcomes at different ecological levels.