No pregnant pause for HiPPP portal



TYPE Prevention Centre News

The team for this Prevention Centre project have a running joke that developing the Health in Preconception and Pregnancy and Postpartum (HiPPP) portal was itself something of an elephant length pregnancy due to COVID-19 interruptions and a boom of pregnancies for team members during the 18 plus months of development. The portal was developed as part of our project using health promotion to reduce the burden of obesity before and in pregnancy.

Two babies were welcomed by the project team – congratulations to Dr Briony Hill, project lead and NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the Health and Social Care Unit at Monash University, and Seonad Madden, PhD candidate from University of Tasmania – and more than 100 babies were born to staff at the project’s partner organisation MacKillop Family Services!

What started out as a plan to develop an online portal on health promotion was shaped by the input from MacKillop staff – both management and the staff working on the ground – during the development and design phase. While heath messaging may no longer be the primary focus of the portal, the information is included as part of a range of resources offered in the one-stop shop for employees thinking about pregnancy.

The portal focuses on information that employees and managers can access 24 hours a day to answer any questions on planning a pregnancy, being pregnant at work, returning to work after having a baby or undertaking the adoption process. It includes checklists for employees and managers, process flows and a comprehensive FAQ page. The HiPPP portal also provides additional information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Disability and LGBTIQA+ employees reflecting the diversity of MacKillop staff.

This is a great value-add for staff offering lots of information and support on pregnancy planning, adoption, wellbeing and self-care, leave entitlements, breastfeeding support and re-onboarding. Our HiPPP portal is a great tool to help normalise the many issues around returning to work for the employee, their colleagues and their manager.

Donna Meechan, MacKillop Human Resource Change Manager

MacKillop Family Services provides residential care, foster care, education and family support services as well as disability services for children, young people and their families. They have a comprehensive research program working with several universities and a commitment to contributing to the evidence base about what works and translating research into practice. The organisation has more than 1,400 staff working across New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

MacKillop Human Resource Change Manager Donna Meechan says they were ideally positioned to be pilot the portal as women make up 70% of their workforce. At any one time there are 50 MacKillop employees who are pregnant or on parental leave.

“We are a family organisation, both internally and externally,” she said. “We seek to provide flexible working arrangements to support staff with families, and to promote healthy child development.”

The portal became a real passion project for Donna and she is proud of MacKillop’s contribution to the final product through focus groups and co-design workshops. Launched following International Women’s Day, the portal sits on the HR page of their intranet. MacKillop Family Services CEO Robyn Miller launched the HiPPP portal last week and shared the news in a video to staff.