The GenR8 Change Breastfeeding working group consists of passionate community members, aiming to create a supportive breastfeeding environment in the Southern Grampians Shire. The group came about following the initial GenR8 Change Workshops in 2015 when community members were asked to action how they could help make the healthier choice the easier choice in our community.
Why breastfeeding? Because not only does it increase a baby’s protection against infection and many illnesses it has also been linked with lowered rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors including obesity.
The Breastfeeding working group has since become a platform for health professionals and members of the community interested in breastfeeding to come together, to share ideas and build on better consistent information and support in our community. The group has had much positive impact with how some services are currently being run. And a recent collaboration between Deb King from Hamilton Community House and our local Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) Hamilton group via these ongoing working group meetings has resulted in an enormous win for our local ABA group, securing funding for them to have their very own hospital grade breast pump for hire locally, valued at over $2,000. Community House facilitated the funding for the breast pump as a contribution through the RACV community fund as part of their commitment to asset based community development which compliments their mission and role in building better communities. The collaboration and outcome has been great timing as we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (1st – 7th August 2018).
Being part of a non-for-profit association, run by volunteers, the ABA Hamilton Group are completely reliant on donations and fundraising to enable them to deliver the services they do. Having a hospital grade breast pump to hire out to members of the community in need enables the group to independently raise money for the ongoing services they provide locally. Kelly Thomas, Co-group leader/ Breastfeeding Counsellor and Breastpump hire officer along with the group are delighted with the outcome, she stated, ‘We are so thankful to Deb King for being part of the breastfeeding working group, understanding the need and securing the funding. The pump shall have such a vital role in serving our community. ABA Hamilton group not only hire the pump out below the cost of local pharmacies but offer the ongoing support and troubleshooting when using the pump by a trained breastfeeding counsellor at no extra cost which is really important to note’.
With an increase in volunteers locally ABA Hamilton Group now also have the capacity to provide Breastfeeding Education Classes, they are hoping to schedule these 3-4 times per year between the existing WDHS antenatal breastfeeding classes to further support families in our community. The next ABA Breastfeeding Education Class is scheduled for Sunday 9th September 2018, 1.30-4.30pm, please email Kelly and Amanda (abahamiltonvic.gmail.com) for enquiries and bookings. Amanda Adamson, Co-group leader/ Community Education Co-ordinator and Trainee Breastfeeding Counsellor says ‘Breastfeeding is a learnt skill, it takes time, up to date consistent information and of course the right support to get going for most people. I wish we had done an ABA Breastfeeding Education Class before having our first baby, I think it would have made a world of difference to our understanding of how it all works and made everything much easier at the start with a new baby’.
The breastfeeding working group is also advocating for a breastfeeding friendly ‘Family Care Space’ in the Hamilton CBD, to make it easier for families to feed when in town. This was a need identified by our community at a Breastfeeding forum held by WDHS and the Breastfeeding Working Group in March 2016. The group are currently exploring options with both council and private business to see if this possibility can become a reality. Amanda stated ‘this is a great opportunity for businesses locally to get behind, if families have a great workable space somewhere to see to the needs of their children whilst in town they are more likely to stay for longer than needing to dash home to feed and change’.
If you would like to be involved with this GenR8 Change Breastfeeding working group, ABA Hamilton Group and/ or would like to get in touch to help make breastfeeding easier in our community, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to email your GenR8 Change enquiries via ([email protected]), and ABA Hamilton Group enquiries via ([email protected]).