Trial to strengthen children’s services
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.