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Six WSM clusters to trial innovative early years delivery


Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) communities are set to have more involvement in the design and delivery of early years services in the region, following the selection of six sites for an innovative Victorian Government-funded trial.

Last month, the WSM Early Years Steering Committee – a group chaired by the WSM Regional Partnership and including the Victorian Government, local councils and early years providers - called for expressions of interest from communities across the region who wanted to work collaboratively to co-design an Early Years model which worked best for them, incorporating childcare, kinders, schools, maternal and child health services, and other service providers.

The successful clusters have now been chosen and are:

  • Northern Grampians Shire Council, working with communities in Navarre and Halls Gap,
  • West Wimmera Health Service working with Nhill, Rainbow, Jeparit & Dimboola,
  • Horsham Rural City Council’s Children’s and Family Hub,
  • West Wimmera Shire Council working with Goroke, Edenhope, Aspley and Kaniva schools,
  • East Wimmera Early Years Partnership working with Birchip, Donald and St Arnaud,
  • Rural Northwest Health working with Warracknabeal, Hopetoun and Beulah.

The trial was a priority identified by the WSM Regional Partnership following its consultation with the community, including at its Regional Assembly in August. The Partnership is now working with Government to progress the initiative.

Emma Vogel, Deputy Chair of the WSM Regional Partnership, said the Committee had received a strong response to the Expression of Interest process and had chosen 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.

“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 of the chosen clusters will now form a working group, supported by the area co-ordinator – WSM Early Years Trials Project. This new role – based at the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s (DET’s) Horsham office – will play a key role in co-ordinating and supporting each of the trials with a focus on improving outcomes for children and families. The co-ordinator will work closely with each of the communities, members of the WSM Area Partnership, government departments and service providers, supporting them in the planning and the delivery of the project. Models will be tested over three years to identify benefits, challenges and improvements to inform future service delivery in regional Victoria.

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