Central Goldfields Council endorses early years report
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Early years a focus for Central Goldfields following report endorsement

by Freya Lucas

October 11, 2023

The endorsement of a report by the Central Goldfields Shire Council at a Meeting of Council in late September has been taken as a strong sign that the early years will be a strong focus for the Central Goldfields region of Victoria. 


The Central Goldfields Early Years Masterplan was developed with $150,000 in funding through the Victorian Government’s Building Blocks Planning Grant program to help Council understand and plan for community needs.


Planning for the future of early years also became a higher priority with the Victorian Government’s announcement that the Central Goldfields is scheduled to transition to 30 hours of free four-year-old kindergarten by 2027. The Early Years Infrastructure Masterplan outlines the resources and investment required to meet increasing requirements of the government’s early years policy agenda. 


Assessment of the Shire’s existing kindergarten programs and physical assets demonstrate that the kindergarten is under-supplied and that infrastructure is aged. It highlights the high level of unmet needs of children and families and the gap in accessible health and support services.


The masterplan provides Council with a “shovel-ready” early years education infrastructure plan that will provide a basis for funding applications and recommends a rethink of how infrastructure can be conceptualised and developed to create better conditions to support families – particularly vulnerable families.


Drawing on the extensive consultation and advocacy by Go Goldfields through the Every Child, Every Chance initiative, the plan maps out a hub and spoke method for delivering integrated services across the Shire:


  •  a new integrated hub to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for families seeking support, information, social connection, maternal and child health, allied health, childcare, kinder and other services.
  • a series of ‘spoke’ sites to be distributed across the Shire, each offering a minimum of two kinder rooms, along with space for allied health professionals and visiting services.


Central Goldfields Shire Mayor Cr Grace La Vella said  “This is a detailed report that was informed by our community. In addition to listening to the needs and wants of our local families a series of interviews were also conducted with early years education providers, primary school principals and early years practitioners.”


“A Masterplan Advisory Committee was also formed during its development – this included representation from Maryborough District Health Service (including Koori Engagement and Support Officer, Goldfields Family Centre, Roseberry House, Y Ballarat, Maryborough Education Centre Specialist School – Beckworth, Maternal and Child Health, Department of Education, local Primary School principals and Go Goldfields.” 


Carolyn Bartholomeusz, the Manager of Go Goldfields, said the endorsement of the masterplan is “a significant step forward” in supporting increased opportunities for local children and families. 


“This renewal and new development recommended in the masterplan will contribute to the local social and economic wellbeing and grow Central Goldfields as a supportive place for families and children to prosper,” she said.


“Importantly the recommendations in the masterplan are underpinned by the latest academic research and comprehensive local engagement to best support children and families.”


The integrated hub builds on the success of Go Goldfields collaborative project, The Nest, that offers a safe and welcoming place for parents and carers to come together to access programs, information, and social connection.


The Council will now undertake further investigative work to determine the most appropriate location for the Early Years Hub.


To read a copy of the Central Goldfields Early Years Masterplan, click here. 

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