Building happy family foundations: Olivia and Abdul’s story

MH ABDUL OLIVIA 202309 0029

Published Jan 09 2024

Olivia Gao and Abdul Motraje had been married for nearly 4 years when they became pregnant with their daughter, Maia. Their relationship was sound and happy – but the transition into parenthood was stressful.

To make matters more challenging, they’d just arrived in Australia after meeting and living in Turkey. The couple have no family here in Melbourne, and they started to struggle.

We had a very strong relationship before the baby came. I never anticipated that things would change so much” says Olivia.

They learned about the Family Foundations program on social media and joke that it probably saved their marriage.

Family Foundations is a free 10-week program for families expecting or caring for a baby aged up to 12 months. Social workers or counselling professionals deliver evidence-based practice through discussion-based activities, modelling, and skills practice to strengthen the parenting team.

Specific skills include emotional regulation, stress management, conflict resolution, attachment, healthy communication, co-parenting, and problem solving. Each session runs for an hour and can be provided face-to-face or online, to a parenting team, or in groups.

The program gave the pair some useful tools and support for navigating life’s new challenges, and helped them feel less alone. Making friends was an unexpected bonus.

Both Olivia and Abdul would recommend the course to other new parents.

You have nothing to lose by taking part,” says Abdul. “It’s free, and you can take your baby along with you. It has made a huge and positive difference in our marriage and growing family.” 

For more information, visit our website page, call 9355 9901 or email family.foundations@merrihealth.org.au