About Us!

Early Support for Parents (ESP) has been operating in Southern Tasmania for over 24 years.

ESP was established when it was recognised that there was a need for a service to support parents who were not in crisis but struggling with the everyday stress of parenting. Since it was established many hundreds of families have benefited from the support of our volunteers.

ESP reaches out to families experiencing stress, bringing a little old fashioned neighbourliness and caring into the homes and lives of those who need it.

ESP supports and encourages Mums, Dads and carers in their role as parents and carers so they can move towards experiencing more of the joys of parenting and less of the stress!

ESP offers care, support and time in the hope of nurturing more positive parenting experiences for families.

ESP is committed to building on the strengths that families have and working together in relationships built on respect and trust.

A little about the staff at ESP


Mary Thornton

Organisation that you manage volunteers for:

Early Support for Parents (Volunteer home visiting program)

Paid or unpaid (if comfortable divulging):

Paid (20 hours per week)

How many volunteers do you manage?

Between 15 and 20 at any one time

Location where you manage volunteers:

Southern Tasmania

Describe the kind of tasks you undertake as a volunteer manager:

  • Volunteer recruitment, introducing potential volunteers to our program
  • Volunteer Training, Initially training volunteers to enable them to work with families in a safe, strength based holistic way. Providing ongoing training opportunities.
  • Volunteer Support, providing debriefing, volunteer meetings.
  • Developing strategies to continue to do all of the above in an ever changing and competitive world
  • Community Development: Program promotion, networking
  • Receiving referrals
  • Assessment of families, visiting families in their homes to asses suitability for the program and determine which what volunteer skills would be best suited in supporting the family. Risk assessment.
  • Matching volunteers with families that will benefit from a volunteers specific skill set
  • Assisting families and volunteers to access appropriate resources
  • reporting, data collection and entry

How did you get into managing volunteers?

Whilst training in Community Services I became a volunteer home visitor for Good Beginnings. I went on to work for Good Beginnings and then completed my Diploma in Community Welfare. After completing my Diploma an opportunity arose, as often happens to join Early Support for Parents. One of the driving forces behind my passion for family support is being a parent of a special needs child. This gives me an added understanding of how isolating parenting can be and therefore the value of providing support and an empathetic shoulder to lean on. I have been in this position for 4 years now.

What is one of your favourite aspects of working with volunteers?

Working with our volunteers is always rewarding. When speaking with our volunteers I always feel uplifted and inspired by the dedication and passion with which they approach their volunteering and the families they work with. Volunteers from all walks of life are naturally giving generous people but this is especially evident in family support. I also enjoy learning of the progress families make towards independence from service support after working with our program.

What is one piece of advice you might give to budding volunteer managers?

Build a strong, supportive team around you and value the skills and contributions that every member brings to that team.


Gay Check

Day job:

Home Duties/Part Time Service Assistant

Location where you volunteer:

Huon Valley

Organisation that you volunteer for:

Early Support for Parents

Describe the work that you do:

Visiting families with children, in their own homes providing practical support or an extra hand, listening to their stories, sharing information relevant to their needs and playing with children.

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

I spend 2 - 3 hours per week volunteering.

How did you get into volunteering for this organisation?

I responded to a leaflet dropped in my letter box.

One of the best things about volunteering is...

The satisfaction I get from seeing families grow as they work through some of their issues and knowing that I may have made some small difference to their lives. I love spending time with young children.

Gay has been a volunteer with Early Support for Parents for over 12 years now. Gay works with families mainly in the Huon area. Gay is employed for 5 hours a week to work with ESP. Gay assists in the office often entering data from volunteers and keeping things well organised. Gay also is a great asset in training new volunteers as she can relay her experiences and perspective in answer to their questions. Gay represents ESP out in the community at events and networking opportunities. In 2013 Gay will be working on a major project building ESP’s profile and volunteer numbers in the Huon Valley.

ESP is managed by a volunteer committee, The volunteers who serve on our committee are:

  • Janet Stephens
  • Sally McGushin
  • Brenda Kimber
  • Jenny Inglis
  • Alison Nicholson
  • Deirdre Tuck
  • Pat Harman