Early Childhood Development campaign being piloted in Mount Gambier
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Early Childhood Development campaign being piloted in Mount Gambier

Early Childhood Development campaign being piloted in Mount Gambier

by Freya Lucas

October 21, 2022

Former Federal Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis recently launched a new campaign supporting early childhood development, which is being piloted in the regional South Australian community of Mount Gambier. 


With its established set of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, and a large number of young families, Mount Gambier was seen as a logical location to trial the program. 


The pilot is aimed at increasing awareness of the developmental impact of parent-toddler interactions during childhood. The Words Grow Minds campaign will encourage parents to talk, play, read and sing with their children from birth, and is part of Raising Literacy Australia’s range of initiatives. 


Data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) shows South Australia lags behind the national average in all five developmental domains — physical, cognitive, social, emotional and linguistic — with nearly one-in-four of the state’s children starting school developmentally vulnerable.


“We cannot sit back and allow South Australian children to continue to fall behind children in the rest of the country before they have even started school”, Ms Ellis argues. 


“We know that 90 per cent of a child’s brain development occurs by the time they are five years old. I’ve always believed that supporting children and their families during this time is one of the smartest investments that any community can make,” she added.


She pointed to research which shows that many parents are misinformed about the causes of their child’s developmental outcomes, with many parents believing that a child’s outcomes are dependent on their genes and that the genes they’re born with will determine their life outcomes.


“That’s not true,” Ms Ellis emphasised. “Investing time in play and in positive interactions has a massive benefit and we want to get out there and promote that, and make sure that South Australian children get the best start possible in life.”


The Words Grow Minds campaign, Raising Literacy Australia chief executive Elizabeth Davis explained, is unique in the way it sets out to deliver its message, going beyond “a simple media campaign.”


“The really innovative aspect of this campaign is that it combines advertising to build broad community awareness with specialised childhood delivery services that work directly with parents of young families,” she told the ABC.


Words Grow Minds provides consistent messaging to parents, regardless of which childhood service they interact with, by partnering with 35 other government and non-government organisations.


Organisers of the pilot hope to expand the program to other areas across the state. 


“We want to start in Mount Gambier and see if we can learn some lessons about what works, what people respond well to, and then maybe adapt the campaign and try it again in Whyalla … and hopefully take this campaign right across the state,” Ms Ellis said.


To view the original coverage of this story please see here

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