It's a quiet Thursday morning in Tuggeranong but the Child and Family Centre is buzzing. Children are playing, their mothers are happily chatting away at the multicultural playgroup.
The families spill out from a big room, set up with chairs in rows all facing a long table at the front, to the outdoor area where there is a sandpit, play equipment and little tables and chairs.
A woman carrying bags of groceries arrives and starts setting up inside, pulling out an array of vegetables. This group is taking part in a healthy lifestyles initiative introduced by the Tuggeranong team with the help of an ACT government grant.
The Live Life Well program has had such positive reviews the team is looking to expande it to other Child and Family Centres in the ACT.
Mothers and their children visit the centre for the playgroup, but also learn how to make a healthy, affordable meal, and participate in an exercise class with a personal trainer.
Centre manager Joe Hutchinson said there were four supported playgroups over the course of each week that take part in the health initiative
"It's about promoting a healthy lifestyle, exercise and food," Ms Hutchinson said.
"Particularly with our vulnerable families, we find they're not aware of cheap meals that they can prepare, and they were believing that takeaway was the cheaper option."
Cost is perceived as the biggest barrier to achieving a healthy lifestyle, Ms Hutchinson said. Many of the women also don't know how to workout at home.
Muslim woman Manal has three children aged six, four and 10 months. After giving birth to her third, she wanted to exercise her tummy muscles but didn't know how.
She tried at home but she wasn't sure if the pain she was experiencing was normal. She said it's been helpful to get tips from the personal trainer so she can learn the right techniques.
Manal, who wears a headscarf, said she was grateful when the centre put up blinds to block out prying eyes, which allowed her and her friends to remove their scarves inside to exercise.
"We mostly do the stretching and I like the stretching part, it mostly makes you feel good and fresh," Manal said.
Participants also learnt how to make a variety of meals, each for less than $15 for a family of four. The mothers receive a bag of groceries and the recipe to take home and practice cooking the same meal.
Pallavi Sakar moved to Australia from India in 2012, and then to Canberra in 2015. She said the capital now feels like home. She and her 18-month-old daughter Adora participate in the playgroup.
Ms Sakar said she heard about it from a friend, and she came along because she was keen to meet new people, and to get some advice from the staff about her daughter.
"Plenty of my friends were in this group previously, their kids are older than my daughter, and they told me it is such a nice group where you can be with so many parents," Ms Sakar said.
"People are so supportive, so understanding. They know how a child behaves and what they should be doing according to the stages. It's a very big support for a parent, especially when we have a single child and they don't have a sibling and when we are doing the parenting all alone, and we have our family overseas."
Ms Sakar said her daughter loves the food they cook in the class, and the friends she has made have become like family.
Those participating in the 13-week program receive a reuseable water bottle, an exercise towel and a lunchbox, plus tips on what to pack in it, for their child.