Families in new suburbs doing it tough, according to Clan WA


Clan WA chief executive Mitch Messer with staff members. Picture: Jon Hewson.
Clan WA chief executive Mitch Messer with staff members. Picture: Jon Hewson.

A LACK of public transport and social infrastructure in new suburbs is isolating young families, according to Clan WA chef executive Mitch Messer.

The Kewdale based not-for-profit organisation has provided support to vulnerable families throughout WA for more than 20 years, first as a collective, before amalgamating as Clan WA in 2000.

Mr Messer said many new developments were just a bundle of houses with a bus that came every two hours which, for young families with only one car, could mean new parents were often stuck at home.

“Families have nowhere to go because the local shopping centre and community support, childcare, those things are built later,” he said.

“The properties are cheaper but they miss out on a lot of other things which can make socialising much harder.”

Mr Messer said he thought there was more pressure on families than there was 20 years ago.

“Although we’re more together in terms of where we live, we’re isolated through less access to that extended family.”

“We see pressures that impact on parenting (such as) housing affordability, financial issues which in turn cause issues in parenting, plus domestic violence which [we’ve seen] increased over time.”

Clan WA’s services are provided by volunteers trained in ‘strength first.’

“We don’t tell them what they should be doing but are about helping people do their own thing,” Mr Messer said.

Volunteers will visit clients in their homes as a peer-to-peer support as supposed to an expert.

“Families know what to do, they just need assistance with strategies and to understand how to get there.”

Mr Messer said the organisation dealt with families from a broad range of backgrounds, from the regular nuclear family through to those from non-English speaking backgrounds, single parents, fly-in-fly out and Aboriginal families.