Children and families in Derby are set to benefit after the town was confirmed as the fourth community engaged in the successful Early Years Initiative, a partnership between the McGowan Government and Minderoo Foundation.
First launched in 2018, the Early Years Initiative is a 10-year partnership that brings together community leaders, government, researchers, business and philanthropic organisations to promote better outcomes for Western Australian children aged 0-4 years and their families.
One in five children aged four years and under in WA are considered developmentally vulnerable, as measured by the Australian Early Development Census. The Early Years Initiative is a commitment to working differently with communities to improve the health, learning and development of children from conception to four years.
The initiative empowers communities by listening to their aspirations for their children and builds on the strengths of the community to create solutions that meet local needs.
In the Central Great Southern, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) infections were identified as one of the top four health issues impacting children in the region and families reported ENT specialist services were inaccessible.
Work was done to simplify the system for families, including establishing and promoting an easier referral pathway, better client follow-up and combining audio and ENT clinics to make these more accessible.
The Family Connector program underway in Armadale aims to help families access the support they need to help their children thrive. More than 60 families have been supported resulting in increased engagement with child health checks.
The Early Years Initiative is supported by the Telethon Kids Institute, which is leading the research and evaluation of the program, ensuring it is informed by the latest evidence.
The Early Years Initiative now has four partner communities covering metropolitan, regional, remote and very remote areas of WA. Derby joins the Central Great Southern, Armadale and Bidyadanga as a partner community.
As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:
“The Early Years Initiative is a unique partnership between the State Government and Minderoo Foundation that promotes new ways of working to achieve great results for children, families and the wider community.
“The State Government is committed to helping children thrive and achieve their hopes and dreams, and the Early Years Initiative will empower the Derby community to work together to promote good outcomes for some of our most vulnerable.
“The State Government acknowledges the generous support of Minderoo Foundation and the local leadership and advocacy delivered in Derby by Ngunga Women’s Group Aboriginal Corporation.”
As stated by Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna:
“We need to do everything we can to help children achieve better outcomes, and I’m pleased Derby families will have the opportunity to benefit from this program, which is already delivering positive change in other partner communities.
“Children in Derby face very different challenges to those in the city, and that is why the Early Years Initiative with its tailored approach will be so important in achieving good outcomes for them and their families.”
As stated by Ngunga Women’s Group Aboriginal Corporation Acting CEO Ben Burton:
“Ngunga Women’s Group welcomes the announcement of the Early Years Initiative in Derby. The initiative will play an important role in supporting community aspirations for our children and enabling better coordinated and more culturally responsive early years services for our families.”