Trial to strengthen chil­dren’s ser­vices

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Are­gional trial to ex­plore ways of strength­en­ing the foun­da­tions of early child­hood devel­op­ment across the Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee is un­der­way.

A Wim­mera South­ern Mallee Early Years Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment and early-years ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives has es­tab­lished six clus­ters across the re­gion for the trial. The clus­ters are – • North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil, work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties in Navarre and Halls Gap;

• West Wim­mera Health Ser­vice, work­ing with Nhill, Rain­bow, Jeparit and Dim­boola;

• West Wim­mera Shire Coun­cil, work­ing with Goroke, Eden­hope, As­p­ley and Kaniva schools;

• Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil’s Chil­dren’s and Com­mu­nity Hub;

• East Wim­mera Early Years Part­ner­ship, work­ing with Birchip, Don­ald and St Ar­naud;

• Ru­ral North­west Health, work­ing with War­rackn­abeal, Hopetoun and Beu­lah.

The State Gov­ern­ment-funded trial in­volves child­care, kin­der­gartens, schools, ma­ter­nal and child health ser­vices and other re­gional ser­vice providers.

Wim­mera South­ern Mallee Re­gional Part­ner­ship, through a Re­gional Assem­bly in Hor­sham in Au­gust, iden­ti­fied the need for a trial to find an ap­pro­pri­ate early years devel­op­ment pro­gram model for the re­gion.

The re­gional part­ner­ship is work­ing with the State Gov­ern­ment on the project.

Last month the early years steer­ing com­mit­tee called for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from com­mu­ni­ties across the re­gion to help co-de­sign a re­gional early-years model.

WSM Re­gional Part­ner­ship deputy chair and WSM Early Years Tri­als Steer­ing Com­mit­tee chair Emma Vo­gel said the com­mit­tee re­ceived a strong com­mu­nity re­sponse and had cho­sen the six clus­ters to lead the way.

“This is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for th­ese com­mu­ni­ties, for the re­gion, and for the de­liv­ery of early-years pro­grams in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas,” she said.

“We know that early years mod­els that work in metropoli­tan ar­eas of­ten don’t work in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas.

“Th­ese tri­als will give com­mu­ni­ties the chance to be in­ven­tive and to put chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, and the ser­vices they need, at the cen­tre of de­sign and de­liv­ery.

“We can’t wait to see what comes out of th­ese tri­als and what it will mean for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in this re­gion in the fu­ture, as well as in other re­gional ar­eas.”

Each clus­ter will now form work­ing groups, sup­ported by an Early Years Tri­als Project area co-or­di­na­tor.

Ms Vo­gel said the area co-or­di­na­tor, based at the Vic­to­rian Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing’s Hor­sham of­fice, would play a key role in co-or­di­nat­ing and sup­port­ing each of the clus­ters with a fo­cus on im­prov­ing out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

She said the co-or­di­na­tor would work closely with each of the com­mu­ni­ties, WSM Area Part­ner­ship mem­bers, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and ser­vice providers, sup­port­ing them in project plan­ning and de­liv­ery.

Mod­els will be sub­ject to a three­year test to iden­tify ben­e­fits, chal­lenges and im­prove­ments for fu­ture ser­vice de­liv­ery in re­gional Vic­to­ria.

Ms Vo­gel said any­one seek­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion could call her on 0468 992 229.

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