Wimmera Southern Mallee early years services trial announced

WIMMERA and southern Mallee communities will design and trial new ways to deliver early years services.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Steering Committee is looking for six trial sites where residents will design a early years model incorporating maternal and child health services, childcare, kinders, schools, and other services.

The framework will be tested over three years to identify benefits, challenges and improvements, which will inform future service delivery.

Councils, early years service providers and state government representatives form part of the committee, which the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership will chair. 

An early years integrated services trial was one of the emerging ideas from the 2017 Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Assembly in August.

Early years services and access to education was one of the regional partnership’s key priority areas for 2017.

Partnership deputy chair Emma Vogel said the trial was a unique opportunity for communities to design a service model that could better meet the region’s needs.

“Early years models that work in metropolitan areas often don’t work in rural and regional areas,” she said.

“The availability of childcare services across the Wimmera Southern Mallee is a good example. Due to funding and regulation requirements – and our small, dispersed populations – services are limited and families are disadvantaged.

“These trials are something the partnership has been calling for and we are thrilled they are going ahead.

“They will put children and their families, and the services they need, at the centre of design and delivery.”

Ms Vogel said the committee was seeking expressions of interest from communities that would like to be part of the trial. Early years providers, kinders, schools and councils are eligible to apply.

“The expression of interest process is an opportunity for your community to outline the issues you are facing in relation to early years services, and your desire to see change,” Ms Vogel said.

“You do not have to have the solutions mapped out, but you might already have some ideas.”

Ms Vogel said each trial site would form a working group with a Department of Education and Training co-ordinator to identify issues and design a framework to trial. 

She said people could email carolynne.hamdorf@rdv.vic.gov.au for more information.

Expressions of interest are due by November 24.