Forum held to discuss rural challenges
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Forum held to discuss ‘well documented’ challenges to access rural ECEC

Forum held to discuss ‘well documented’ challenges to access rural ECEC

by Freya Lucas

November 16, 2023

The By Five Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Initiative (By Five WSM) and the North Central Local Learning and Employment Network (North Central LLEN) recently brought together rural leaders from across the Wimmera and Southern Mallee region of Victoria to discuss the “well documented” challenges of accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC) in small rural communities. 


The “Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)” roundtable was “a solutions-focused event featuring national, state and local sector updates and some great discussion,” local news source The Buloke Times reported


Policy change at all levels of government, and a new rural approach driven by equity and sustainability rather than viability was a core focus of the discussion, as well as opportunities which could be created in the here and now to provide hope for rural communities and families. 


Speakers included: 


  • Matthew Lundgren, from the Department of Education Early Learning Operations and Monitoring Division, who shared an update on what is happening about ECEC at a state level; 
  • Andrew Bubb, Director of the Community Childcare Fund (CCCF) for the Australian Government Department of Education, who provided a national perspective; 
  • Katrina Nightingale and Lynsey Leong from Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) who gave an Early Years update and; and, 
  • Jo Martin (By Five WSM) and Jane Hosking (North Central LLEN) who shared insights from the draft Strengthening Rural Early Childhood Education and Care Report. 


“Solving the access challenge as a part of a broader ECEC system is required. We need to transition from a viability to equity model taking into account broader place-based considerations,” the final speakers noted. 


Following the formal presentations roundtable discussions were held on ways in which rural ECEC might be strengthened under the current conditions, and what would be needed in order to develop a fit-for-purpose Rural ECEC model, facilitated by John Finighan from Social Ventures Australia.


The Roundtable was made possible as part of a collaboration between three Regional Partnerships – Wimmera Southern Mallee, Mallee and Loddon Campaspe.


Read the original coverage of this story here

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