The West

Parents who get together share load
Good advice: Nicole Jaschinsky with son Jaison. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

Young families in Perth's newer suburbs find mothers' groups and playgroups vital to guard against isolation and anxiety as traditional support systems fragment, new research has found.

The University of WA-led study found the groups were important to help new mothers connect and called for more resources for community bodies.

"Feeling isolated and disconnected can be more common in newer suburbs on the urban fringe, where there is often a long lag between families with young children moving in and the establishment of important community infrastructure such as community centres, shops and places families can go locally," lead author Cecily Strange said.

The researchers said high numbers of immigrant families, mothers returning to work earlier and older women working longer had led to the fragmentation of families and erosion of traditional support systems for parents of young children.

The risk of social isolation was compounded by the fact people were also less likely to interact with neighbours than in the past.

The researchers interviewed 39 mothers of pre-schoolers at 16 mothers' groups and 13 playgroups with input from child-health nurses and local government early childhood staff.

For mother-of-three Nicole Jaschinsky, community groups helped her cope after the birth of her first baby nine years ago and shortly after moving to Merriwa.

"Playgroup gave me so much information that helped my daughter because it made me more confident," she said.

The Jaschinsky family recently moved to Quinns Rocks, where Mrs Jaschinsky runs a playgroup that includes her four-year-old son Jaison, who is thriving among new friends.

Support and information gained over the years benefited the whole family, including her husband.

"Instead of me going to him asking for advice or stressing out about things he had no idea about, I could get help from other mothers or people running the playgroup," she said.

The West Australian

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