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BY Five initiatives shortlisted for Victorian Early Years Awards


The Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Project, BY FIVE, has been shortlisted for a prestigious Victorian Government 2019 Early Years Award.

BY FIVE was one of the first Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership-driven projects and is a joint initiative with the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with support from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The initiative was developed as a result of the Regional Partnership Assembly process in 2016, after the local community identified improving early years’ outcomes in the region as a major priority. Named BY FIVE because it includes five geographic clusters within the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) and because it aims to improve outcomes in children by the time they reach the age of five, it focuses on ensuring early years services in each community work together to support families and children. It is seeking bespoke place-based solutions to meet local needs.

Former WSM Partnership Deputy Chair and one of the drivers of BY FIVE Emma Vogel said the Partnership was thrilled the initiative had been shortlisted.

“Australia has a myriad of health, education and welfare services to support children in the early years, yet we continue to see some children arrive at school without the experiences and support they need to thrive,” she said.

“We have found remote and rural locations, especially with small populations, are particularly vulnerable and that’s why this work is so important. This project brings together parents, carers, educators and health professionals that interact with a child during their first five years, with the focus on designing the best system for every child.”

As part of BY FIVE, the Bastow Institute provided a series of training days in Horsham for 90 members of the five clusters. Among those attending was a group from Dimboola – which has separately also been shortlisted for a 2019 Early Years Award.

As a result of the BY FIVE training, the Dimboola delegates – the former president of the local playgroup, a kinder teacher, a social worker and two primary school teachers – identified that many professionals working with children and families travel to Dimboola from outside town and were not always aware of available services. From this, a new directory was born, offering useful information for raising a child in the Western Victorian town.

Dimboola mum of two and past local playgroup president Hannah Young said the new directory is a list of possibilities of things to do in town. “We started with information on allied health services but expanded to everything,” she said.

“There’s information on domestic violence services but also when the library is open. We found a lot of services were based in Horsham but will come out.” She said that being award finalists was “exciting for us in Dimboola but also good recognition of the wider BY FIVE project.”

The Early Years Awards ceremony is on Tuesday 22 October where winners will be announced.

Two further WSM initiatives are shortlisted: Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative’s Delkaia Aboriginal Best Start Program and the Wimmera Southern Mallee’s LLEN’s ‘Let’s Read Wimmera’.

Full list of shortlisted initiatives

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