Mr John Fry1, Mrs Melissa Kidd2
1Department Of Education, Brisbane, Australia, 2Department of Education, Toowoomba, Australia
The 2018 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data shows Queensland children experience vulnerability on one or more domains at higher levels than the national average, however Queensland has reduced vulnerability at a greater rate than nationally since 2009.The Queensland Government is committed to reducing the percentage of Queensland children developmentally vulnerable on one or more AEDC domains to 22 per cent by 2025 (from 25.9 per cent in 2018).
Through the department’s Connect 4 Children strategy, communities in Queensland have developed a plan to help improve the wellbeing of children prior to school (from birth to five years old). The Birth to five plans value and incorporate child, family and community perspectives in decision making, and reflect the priorities and next steps for communities. The department’s Partnerships Facilitators (Early Years) support Queensland communities to identify what matters most for children in the early years and to mobilise action to achieve their goals.
Local community and services are working together to improve the wellbeing of children. This is being achieved by ensuring services, programs and systems are driven by the priorities of the local community. There is enhanced support for early learning priorities including playgroup, kindergarten and early years transitions as well as the alignment with other whole-of-government responses focused on giving all children a great start.
Through the Birth to five plans and a place-based approach, the Department of Education has partnered with other government agencies to strengthen integration and drive innovation that responds to community and government priorities in the early years.
John is the project manager for Connect 4 Children and supports the strategy’s implementation across 102 communities in Queensland. He feeds regional progress and achievements from regions to the Oversight Committee who also support the whole of government approach to reducing vulnerability.
Melissa is one of the ECEC Directors in regions and leads the work and approach to reducing vulnerability in the Darling Downs South West region. She works with the regional manager and Partnership Facilitators (Early Years) to support communities develop Birth to five plans and unpack solutions to local needs.