Announced as the first of four locations in Western Australia’s unprecedented Early Years Initiative, the Central Great Southern Shires of Katanning, Broomedhill-Tambellup, Kojonup and Gnowangerup will work with state government services and researchers to develop new ways to improve the health and well being of it’s youngest residents.
The Early Years Initiative (EYI) is a 10-year agreement between the West Australian government and Colab, a partnership between the Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids Institute. The program will develop new ways to deliver more effective, evidence-informed child development services and will span four communities across metropolitan, regional remote and very remote WA, ultimately involving thousands of children and their families.
Announced by Premier Mark McGowan in March 2018, the joint project will tackle the development gap between the least and most disadvantaged children in Western Australia, which has widened since 2009.
The Minderoo Foundation is investing $24.65 million in the project over ten years, matching funding from the state government.
Minderoo chief executive Nicola Forest said the initiative was an opportunity to bring long-term thinking and innovation to an important social challenge.
“Minderoo is making a commitment to invest in our children and deliver the state a significant generational dividend in the future,” Mrs Forrest said.
EYI Board Co-Chairs Dr Sue Gordon and Sue Ash said work would now begin in the Central Great Southern to combine local insights with state government organisations and services.
“Research tells us the first four years of a child’s life are critical in creating the platform for their future success,” Dr Gordon said.
Ms Ash said the goal of EYI is to achieve real and lasting progress that will benefit the whole state.
“The enthusiasm of the Central Great Southern shires to be involved in this unprecedented initiative demonstrates the strong desire for this kind of commitment to change for children,” Ms Ash said.
The chosen communities will develop and implement their own strategies, backed by evidence, to improve child development and outcomes. The remaining three communities will be announced later in 2019.