Using the AEDC to Drive Community Action: Loddon, Victoria

Ms Jane Hosking, Catherine Nolan

The AEDC helps communities understand how children are developing before they start school. A key purpose of the AEDC is to help communities and local governments tailor their services, resources and support to meet the needs of young children and their families. The Strong Families Strong Children (SFSC) initiative supports children in the Loddon Shire, Victoria, to start school ready to learn. SFSC is a partnership between North Central Local Learning Network (LLEN), the Shire of Loddon and the Department of Education and Training (DET). The AEDC findings in Loddon over time provided evidence for educators and therapists of increasing vulnerability, prompting them to seek broader community support for their children and families. Understanding that increasing vulnerability in literacy and numeracy was reflective of broader social and emotional vulnerability, experienced by children before school, was the catalyst for change. In late 2016, the SFSC network organised a forum to set a plan in place; the goal, to create change at a community level, to meet the needs of young children and their families. In 2017, the North Central LLEN, on behalf of key stakeholders, received funding to reshape the service system to achieve their goal. Importantly, the absence of data before school and after school entry raised concerns about the lack of a comprehensive, related and linked system of data capture, prompting a trial of two complementary surveys, the Toddler Development Instrument (TDI) and the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). SFSC has endorsed the proposal to align comprehensive population level capture, which provides place-based results back to schools and community for local level planning and monitoring, and therefore empowering community partnerships to take a lead role in developing local solutions to support their children. The AEDC had the power to confirm anecdotal evidence and prompted action.

Ms Jane Hosking is currently the Executive Officer of the North Central Local Learning and Employment Network. She holds a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from La Trobe University. Jane brings over 20 years of experience primarily in Early Childhood Intervention Services, Project Management and Community sector leadership.

Catherine Nolan is Project Director for the Comprehensive Monitoring Project and the Victorian State & Territory Coordinator for the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). As a Child Health Advisor in Victorian Government since 2004 and in her current role as AEDC Coordinator, Catherine has coordinated the implementation of the School Entrant Health Questionnaire (SEHQ) between 2004 and 2009 and the AEDC in Victoria since inception nation-wide in 2009. She has a broad and deep understanding of the value and utility of large population data and its critical importance to policy development, practice, service delivery and research.