Rural and remote services in the spotlight with inaugural CCSA forum
Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) recently held a forum in Dubbo, New South Wales, designed to give a platform for services operating in rural and remote communities to hear from policy makers, sector experts and leading academics about the latest research and developments in early childhood education and care (ECEC).
The ‘first of its kind’ event, organisers said, was designed to recognise and celebrate the unique joys, challenges and needs of ECEC services operating in regional and very remote locations. Speakers at the conference included Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia, Professor Marc de Rosnay, known for his work on emotional development in early childhood, and popular children’s author, Mem Fox.
The event was well patronised, with delegates travelling over seven hours to participate in the forum. NSW Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell was in attendance to meet with providers and educators, and answer questions from the floor in relation to operating an ECEC service in an isolated community.
Ms Mitchell acknowledged the vital work undertaken by these services, often a lifeline for their communities, saying “statistically, children who grow up outside of the city are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at the start of school”.
She welcomed the support provided to services by CCSA, noting the “real challenges to delivering quality services in regional and remote areas”.
“Early childhood services in rural and remote areas are critical to their entire community, and it is important for these communities to have a voice,” a CCSA spokesperson said, explaining the motivation for bringing the sector together for the forum.
Meg Mendham, CCSA CEO, said the organisation has a strong commitment to supporting and advocating for services operating in rural and remote communities.
“We have recognised a need to bring together representatives from geographically isolated areas, to give them a stronger voice and to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of early childhood education in these very special locations.”
“ECEC services are essential to sustaining rural and remote communities,” Ms Mendham said.
The forum represents a significant step for CCSA, who have represented services in rural and remote NSW for 50 years, and who have recently been involved in establishing the first remote preschool in Weilmoringle – The Gidgee Preschool – as part of the Start Strong Community Safety Net pilot program, as well as advocating for the development of the NSW state government’s Drought Relief program.
CCSA represents all ECEC service types, including preschools, long day care, occasional care, multipurpose centres, mobile preschools and playgroups, family day care, out of school hours care, early intervention and outreach services, both community based and private.
Further information about CCSA can be found on their website