National Playgroup Week (March 18-24) celebrates play and highlights the important role of playgroups across Australia. 

Playgroup Australia estimates around 150,000 parents and caregivers organise around 7,500 gatherings in churches, parks, public spaces and community halls each week all around Australia.  

For many parents, playgroups are important places where they can connect with other parents, share their experiences, and learn from each other.  

As part of its ongoing work to support Australian communities with a range of support services, The Benevolent Society has been delivering early childhood years learning and development support through play and specialist programs that help children and parents thrive.  

In the Queensland region of Logan, The Benevolent Society’s team at the Brown Plains Early Years Centre is providing crucial support to parents, including families with babies born prematurely.  

The Premmies Play & Learn Together group  

Each year, up to 27,000 babies are born prematurely in Australia, and more than 15 million are born prematurely globally. Supporting parents with babies born prematurely, who often need to adjust to parenting after prolonged periods of time spent with their newborns in hospital, is crucial. 

The Brown Plains Early Years team have been running a weekly Premmies Play & Learn Together group to provide this support to families with babies born prematurely (25-35 weeks' gestation).  

Information and practical support is provided to families that attend. Positive interactions between parents and children are promoted through play-based learning experiences.  

Jodi McMurtrie, Child Development Specialist (Advanced Practitioner) at The Benevolent Society, says: “Settling into life as a parent is a learning experience, and this can be especially hard for those with children born prematurely.  

“With extra support often needed to ensure these children stay healthy as they grow and develop, our Premmies Play & Learn Together group ensures these families have a safe, nurturing space where they are supported by our staff to have fun play-based learning experiences together.  

“It’s incredibly rewarding seeing the bonds between parents and their children grow during these sessions.” 

Empowering families with children born prematurely

The group has also created a space where parents with babies born prematurely can come together to share their experiences, learn from one another, and celebrate their achievements.  

In November 2023, the group marked World Prematurity Day, with participating parents organising a community event. Along with The Benevolent Society, the event was supported by additional partners and community organisations including Early Childhood Australia, Preterm Infants Parents Association, First Five Forever, Bunnings, McDonalds, Coles, and Logan Together. 

With 150 attendees, the event successfully raised awareness around the experiences of families with babies born prematurely in the local Logan and wider Queensland community.  

The event also provided resources and opportunities for attendees to meet with parents from the group, to learn more about the support available to families in the area on a similar journey.  

Sharing the experiences of families with children born prematurely 

As part of its focus on the experiences of families with babies born prematurely, the event also saw parents from the Premmies Play & Learn Together group share and present stories recounting their first-hand experiences having children born prematurely.  

“It was deeply moving to see so many of the parents from the playgroup present their raw, intimate and insightful accounts of their experiences having children born prematurely,” Jodi continued. 

“The Premmies Play & Learn Together group has become such a special place for these parents to not only spend time with their children, but also get to know other parents that have been through similar experiences and learn from one another. 

“The way these parents banded together to organise the community event, and share these raw accounts of their experiences, is a testament to how welcoming and supportive playgroups like this are for parents.  

“We can’t wait to see the group continue to evolve this year and welcome more parents with children born prematurely to become a part of this.” 

For more information on our range of Early Childhood Years services and programs, click here or call 1800 236 762.