Leading local solutions

BY FIVE, an innovative project in the Wimmera Southern Mallee, shows a community can create local solutions that enable children to thrive.

What is BY FIVE?

BY FIVE is an early year’s project that aims to improve the health, wellbeing and development of children in the WSM.

The project is the result of a Regional Partnership Assembly process whereby communities in the region had the opportunity to identify and act on their own needs.

The partnership identified the early years as a major priority for the region.

“We called the project ‘BY FIVE’ because it covers five geographic clusters within WSM and we want to see significant change on five developmental outcomes by the time children reach five years of age and start school,” explains project chairperson, Emma Vogel.

Each of the five geographic clusters in BY FIVE has been working with Rachel Robinson from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to map their local system as a child moves between parent, maternal child health services, childcare, kinder, health services, and school.

“The evidence is clear, to ensure children get the best start, we need to improve the conditions under which families are raising children and amplify early childhood development with joined up quality services capable of working together to respond to local needs,” explains Rachel Robinson.

How has the partnership enabled local action?

The partnership engages community members and services involved in children’s first five years of life to:
•  understand complex local needs and identify respectful responses and solutions
•  develop action research plans related to each of the five geographic locations and early years situations
•  co-design and integrate locals system to ensure they are accessible to all children
•  build on existing resources, skills, knowledge and capacity in the WSM.

Emma Vogel, BY FIVE Project Chairperson, feels that without the partnership, the region wouldn’t have the opportunities, resources, and capacity it has today.

“A small, well-targeted investment from government has unlocked an enormous sleeping giant–the power of local communities to identify and resolve its own issues.”

For more information, contact Rachel Robinson

Listen to Prof Frank Oberklaid discuss the project on ABC radio

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