Thrive by Five welcomes initiative which aims to address root causes of disadvantage

Thrive by Five welcomes initiative which aims to address root causes of disadvantage

by Freya Lucas

June 28, 2021

Advocacy campaign group Thrive by Five has welcomed a new initiative aimed at creating a system which will address the root causes of disadvantage for children under five.

 

Under the leadership of Social Ventures Australia the Early Childhood Development Field Catalyst will for the first time bring together leaders and researchers from across children and family services to “reengineer and disrupt” the current fragmented early-years system so that all Australian children get what they need in the early years, when they need it, to have the best chance in life.

 

The group of 13 leaders driving this process will work to foster a system-wide approach to addressing the root causes of disadvantage for young children from birth to five years of age. This will include supporting the development, adoption and implementation of an Early Years Blueprint to overhaul the way that the system operates, along with how services are funded, regulated and delivered.

 

This initiative is enabled through an investment of AU$1 million from the BHP Foundation to pioneer and test the Catalyst approach over 18 months.

 

“Systemic change requires evidence, innovation and collaboration,” James Ensor, BHP Foundation Chief Executive said. 

 

“Through this initiative, collective action across the early years sector has the potential to significantly improve the lives of young children in Australia, which aligns with the Foundation’s ambitions to give young people every chance to fulfill their potential.”

 

The leaders come from across the spectrum of sectors that interact with children including: early childhood education and care, child and maternal health, mental health, family support, housing, social services and child protection. The alliance was formed following the National Early Years Summit in March 2020 which brought together approximately 550 experts across diverse parts of the system.

 

Project co-chair and CEO of Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth Penny Dakin believes that this approach will be crucial to developing a system that works for children and for driving change across the system.

 

“We need a circuit breaker. We have excellent and growing evidence of what children need to be able to thrive, but the system is not set up to allow us to work together across the different services to ensure support is available to families before they hit crisis point”

 

During the 18-month test period the group of experienced sector leaders aim to deliver improved early childhood outcomes in Australia by:

 

  • Bringing different parts of the sector together to allow them to work more effectively to support young children and design new solutions that better meet children’s needs;
  • Developing and supporting the sector to embed a National Early Years Blueprint for improving the lives of young children; and, 
  • Advocating for policy change and evidence-informed approaches where it’s identified the system is failing children.

 

As its first task, this collaborative group will come together to map the current system to better understand the root causes of problems, and identify the leverage points for change. The mapping project will look at the interconnected systems that impact the early years, including early childhood education and care, child and maternal health, mental health, family support, housing, social services and child protection.

 

This will be followed by a longer process to seek to change elements of the current child and family system and inform future policy to allow more young children to thrive in Australia.

 

Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said the new initiative “added strength to the call for systemic reform”, which he believes is “only getting louder”.

 

“We know how critical early learning is to the development of our children, and with one in five children starting school developmentally vulnerable, there’s still a long way to go. We need to make changes that work for them,” he said. 

 

More information about the Early Childhood Development Field Catalyst is available here

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