As part of a $49.3 million project, the Early Years Partnership (EYP) has officially launched in Katanning – the first step of a community plan that aims to increase the wellbeing and school readiness of children in the Great Southern area.
The EYP is a 10-year partnership between the State Government, Minderoo foundation and Telethon Kids Institute that focuses on improving the learning conditions for children aged zero to four.
Co-chair of the EYP global work party in the Great Southern region Jo Webb says the program aims to provide young children with a stable learning environment.
“The aim of the EYP is to focus on children aged zero to four and help them get the education and learning they need for schooling.”
Mrs Webb believes that it is the EYP’s role to support parents in giving their kids vital learning skills at a young age.
“We try to support parents in their role as parents in the first four years of their children’s lives as they are the most crucial to a child’s upbringing,” she says.
The Great Southern region is the fourth area that the EYP have ventured into as they have already supported communities in Armadale West, Derby and Bidyadanga.
The EYP are supporting communities in metropolitan, regional, remote, and very remote areas of WA with the hopes to gain and an understanding of all communities.
WA Shadow Minister for Education Peter Rundle says the program provides children with equal opportunities.
“The Early Years Partnership is giving kids from more disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to get a kickstart to their health and development.”
One in four children are considered developmentally vulnerable in the region, and one in 10 children are exposed to domestic violence in the Great Southern area. Mr Rundle is pleased that the EYP are tackling this issue.
“It’s also looking at domestic violence and making sure that kids and children aren’t exposed to that situation at a young age,” he says.
Mr Rundle is optimistic about the benefits this partnership will have on the diverse population in the Great Southern region.
“We’ve got a very multicultural society in Katanning for example with 43 different nationalities. It will give indigenous people opportunities that they wouldn’t get in other parts of the state.
“What it will bring is a better recognition to these communities in the Great Southern region and a better ability to address issues,” he says.
Mr Rundle believes that everyone is entitled to an equal quality of education regardless of where they live.
“Having a proper program that is financed by Minderoo and the Department of Communities that targets those areas is a great advantage for the region,” he says.
Former chief investigator for the Early Years Initiative Dr Rosemary Cahill says the early years initiative is approaching the problem of improving children’s outcomes in new and innovative ways.
Early childhood education has a critical impact on kids as ninety percent of the brain is developed by age five, and Dr Cahill stresses the importance of an education in early childhood.
She believes that a stable education is vital to a child’s pre-schooling years because there is so much happening around them.
“Kids go through so much physical, emotional and language development in their first five years as well as there being so much happening in a child’s brain in terms of neural development,” says Cahill.