Making Sure Our Children are Safe, Healthy and Nurtured by Confident Families and Communities [Interview][Transcript]

Grainne_OLoughlin_KaritaneGuest: Grainne O’Loughlin
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: In April 2014 Grainne joined Karitane as CEO. She currently holds positions on the following Boards: Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA); NSW Health Services Association Board (HSA), and the Australasian Association of Parenting & Child Health Board (AAPCH). Grainne has a very strong interest in clinical education, training and research and has led a number of state-wide projects and initiatives on interprofessional supervision and education. Grainne is committed to the sustainable delivery of exceptional quality care to parents and carers in achieving the Karitane vision of keeping our children safe, healthy and nurtured by confident families and communities.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know more about the charity organization Karitane from our guest CEO Grainne O’Loughlin. They work with children and their parents from birth to 5 years of age. They are leaders in parenting services and provide education and consultation to health professionals that work with families with young children in addition to engaging in a strong research program. Karitane is a registered charity, supported by the NSW Ministry of Health and the Department of Family & Community Services. In addition to their government funding, much of the their work is undertaken thanks to donations from individuals and companies.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My Wayne Bucklar and today my guest joins me from Sydney Australia. It is Grainne O’Loughlin who is the CEO of Karitane. Now first of all, I’ve just been told Grainne’s not French it’s Irish. And Karitane is not a mistake, it’s New Zealand. So welcome to program Grainne.

Grainne O’Loughlin: Thanks very much. It’s lovely to join you today.

W: Now I have to admit Karitane, wouldn’t from first I saw the name I thought “What on earth?” So do tell us two things. What it is that your do, because it’s not obvious from the name and where that that name come from?

G: Sure. Well I might start where about the name comes from, so the name originated from New Zealand. And our founder was a Mr. Truby King and he founded was what known back then in 1923 as The Australian Mothercraft Society, opening the First Baby Clinic in Elizabeth Street in Sydney in, yes 1923. So we are all about improving the lives of children and families and so we intervene with parents and children from the ages of birth to 5 years helping people through that challenging, but very rewarding stage of parenting.

W: I see. And in New South Wales is where you are currently, is it a New South Wales only organization?

G: That’s right. Look we are New South Wales based service and we provide actually a range of services and some of them are state-wide and some of them are aligned with our local health district areas. So we have our centers at Randwick in eastern suburbs and also center out in South Western Sydney based at Fairfield, Carramar and Camden sites.

W: And I agree with you when you said it’s a challenging, but its rewarding time for parents. Fortunately my years as a parents are many years behind me, but way back then when I had little children they were a lot of government provided services, who I think they’re called maternal and child welfare clinics back in the day. But that’s in a different state as well. Is that sort of services still available or is that now largely the work that you do?

C: Look, I think it’s really a long and continuous care. So there certainly are frontline government funded services for parenting through your early childhood dentist and child family health nurses and people will often see their GPs or their early childhood nurses. And I suppose we get to see families and parents when difficulties have become a little more challenging, and they tried a few tried and trusted ways to resolve issues. So it’s really for us about more complex. So it might be sleeping and settling and breastfeeding issues with their … or in fact it might be around moms or dads experiencing perinatal mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Or it might be toddler behavior and very difficult toddler behaviors that may manifest in the early years, and people are really looking for some expertise and advice on how to manage that side of things as well.

W: And parents of toddlers, you do have my absolutely sympathy, ‘the terrible twos’ are not misnamed. Grainne many of our listeners are clinicians of one kind or another, mainly either in acute care or in aged care. Now I guess you don’t have much for aged care, perhaps grandparents. But with acute care we have doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, is there a take away message for them today as a result of having heard you on Health Professional Radio?

C: Look I guess it’s just the fact that we are also a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. So we have child-family health nurses, we have perinatal nurses, and psychologists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. We are a health based facility and so I think it’s important for people to know that there is a secondary and tertiary layer of professionals that can help. We’ve got a care line and advice line and that if parents and/or healthcare professional can call us on. And so we are a point of contact in that continuum and our work is often very much in partnership with the healthcare professionals from other organizations and both government and non-government organizations. And so it’s a bit about the team and the family and the child are in the middle, that’s where the focus of our attention is. But often we do rely on that network of healthcare providers to come together to get a full picture of what maybe happening for a family at that given time.

W: And do people need a referral to you? Like if I want one of my patients to make contact with you, does that need to be done through a referral or can they just give you a call or how does that work?

C: Yes, so we do accept online referrals from GPs and healthcare professionals.

W: Uh huh.

C: And we have a website which can … online referral and if people want to look us up. But also we do have parents ring in to our care line service, and if they’re describing the situation and we believe that they can benefit from some of our services, we do often prompt them to see their childhood nurse or their GP and to seek that referral to our service.

W: Now let’s give that website a mention since we’ve just mentioned it before. This is so it’s

C That is correct.

W: And Grainne what’s the number? You mentioned a phone number there, do you want to add that in as well?

C: Yes so our careline number is 1300-227-464 and that’s open 7 days and it’s manned by Child and Family Health Nurses, who are available for consultation on a wide range of non-urgent inquiries concerning the children from birth to 5 years of age.

W: Now Grainne my favorite question in every interview is about misconceptions. It must be a sign of the perversity of my personality I think. What’s the biggest misconception in your work that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

C: Look, I suppose for me it’s about the recognition of the diversity of the families that we support. And some people from time to time have a fairly narrow view that we’re supporting what they would refer to as the ‘worried well.’

W: Uh huh.

C: But I think what’s important is that we support families who really in that early intervention prevention phase, where it has been shown that the significant research and global evidence that those models of care are very impactful to ensure attachment with parents and children. And the research shows that if you don’t have that attachment early on that that can impact a child’s behavior and a child’s outcome as they grow up. And so is not just about people who haven’t had a good night sleep. This is about people who are really struggling at that stage. And it’s, I think the most important thing in their life is to be able to care for their child and care for themselves. So we have children that we see and families in foster care situations, in juvenile justice programs, in teenage pregnancy programs. We see families that have arrived through terribly traumatic experiences, through… seekers or refugees or new migrants whose children have seen some very traumatic events and parents may have had some very traumatic journeys. So I guess it’s about recognizing that Karitane cares and supports these families and parents from a very diverse backgrounds. And to diminish that sense that it’s ‘worried well’ people that are seeking our assistance. I suppose that would be the message I’d like to get through.

W: And let’s hope today that we’ve dispelled a little bit of that misconception and got a little bit of that message through for you.

C: Thank you.

W: Grainne O’Loughlin CEO of Karitane, thank you for your time today. It’s been a pleasure having you on Health Professional Radio with us.

C: Thank you very much Wayne, lovely to talk to you. Thank you.

W: Now if you’ve missed some of those references and you’d like to get in touch with Karitane, the website again was or the careline number is 1300-227-464. If you’ve missed my conversation with Grainne altogether, then we’ve got a transcript on our website. You can also listen to an archive audio of the conversation both on YouTube and SoundCloud. And you can access all of those resources through the Health Professional Radio website at This is Health Professional Radio and you’re listening to Wayne Bucklar. Thank you for being with us today.

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