Upper Murray Community supported through new ChildSPACE Program
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Upper Murray Community supported through new ChildSPACE Program

by Freya Lucas

April 29, 2022

Families and children in Corryong, a small Victorian town close to the New South Wales border, are benefiting from access to the new ChildSPACE building at 24 Jardine Street which provides a new place to connect, facilitating the formal and informal networks around families, children and young people in the Upper Murray Community.


The ChildSPACE program, developed in partnership between Australian Childhood Foundation and Melbourne University in January 2021, is a trauma-informed, child focused community-building recovery project with the aim of supporting children and young people in the Towong Shire following the damage and loss from multiple bushfire events over the 2019/20 Australian summer. 


Supporting the social and emotional wellbeing needs of children and young people is the central focus of the program, and ChildSPACE has been supported by grant funding from Direct Relief – an international not for profit supporting disaster relief around the world.


“The damage and loss from the multiple bushfire events over the 2019/20 Australian summer season and the subsequent social disruptions from the pandemic during the recovery period, will have far-reaching impacts on families and communities for years to come,” program facilitators said.


“The evidence from earlier disasters highlights that a substantial number of children and youth in high impact communities will have extended mental health, emotional, social, and learning difficulties that will place them behind their peers in unaffected communities.”


Dr Joe Tucci, Australian Childhood Foundation CEO described Corryong as a strong and resilient community. 


“It has a heartbeat and a strong social fabric,” he said. “The community knows what it takes to put itself back together after the bushfires, what we wanted to do was help it along.” 


ChildSPACE was born after 12 months of community consultations that proved a need for more community support networks, and offers a meeting space for children and families to connect with others and a place for groups such as Mothers Group to meet. 


Resources are also available to support families, and the ChildSPACE team facilitate workshops, group programs and visiting services, working with the community to strengthen knowledge, confidence and commitment to pay attention, care and support children, young people and their families as they navigate the recovery process, paying particular attention to the consequences of trauma on children over time.


“There are a lot of new mums and bubs in the Corryong community,” Dr Tucci shared. 


“It can be tough if you’re feeling isolated in the first couple years of your child’s life, particularly due to the bushfires and COVID. So being together in a space and making connections with other parents, families and children going through similar experiences of parenting, makes a difference.” 


The space is also a base for the Upper Murray Toy and Activity Library, a project set up by the ChildSPACE program. Toy libraries provide children and families with access to quality toys that support children’s development, growth, and exploration of the world. The Library also provides an opportunity for parents, carers and children to meet and socialise through incidental catch-ups with other families. 


Launched in late 2021, the Library has already supplied fun and engaging toys and resources for families in the whole community.


The ChildSPACE program is truly a community initiative, the working and consultation group has included Towong Shire representatives, Bushfire Recovery Victoria, Corryong Health and many community representatives. The Toy and Activity Library major funding contributors included Rotary District 9790 Bushfire Recovery Committee, Corryong Health, Australian Toy Association, St Kilda Mums and many individual donations.


The ChildSPACE team welcomes all families and children for drop-in visits to the space anytime on Wednesdays. Contact Kellie at [email protected] to book visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Follow ChildSPACE on Facebook for updates. 


This piece was adapted from a blog post which appeared on the Australian Childhood Foundation website. To access the original post please see here.

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