How connecting nationally gives ‘permission to share’

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We spend our whole working lives in a non-sharing environment but being a part of Opportunity Child provides permission to share and ask.

Connecting Community for Kids backbone leader Jane Miller shared this reflection on the relationships she had formed and connections made since being part of Opportunity Child.

The backbone team of Connecting Community for Kids is based in the communities of Cockburn and Kwinana, Western Australia. The initiative’s aim is for young children in their communities to have the same level of physical, social, emotional, communication and language development as the Perth Metropolitan Area by 2024, based on the outcomes of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC).

As Jane puts it, “it’s quite liberating being part of this national group – I feel I can ask anything of my peers in this environment, as people share more freely. I often make contact with other leaders in the Opportunity Child partner communities, which is hugely helpful.”

As an illustration, it was thanks to insights from her peers at Logan Together that Jane identified what was required for a new data role being created to support the work of the initiative.

Jane and the West Australian backbone team had a recent visit from Opportunity Child core team member Professor David Hogan, who spent the day examining the program logic of the WA initiative.

“It was great having David work with us – we had a really productive day which enabled us to gain clarity in our minds and get to the nub of how we measure the impact of our work here,” Jane said.

So what else is happening?

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Jane says the focus the first quarter of 2018 is community action and the backbone team is busy supporting the implementation of the five approaches identified by community as necessary to improving outcomes for kids.

How the model is taking shape

The backbone team had a productive 18 months laying the groundwork for their community change model. The Connecting Community for Kids model includes:

2 communities
8 Action Teams
5 approaches

How the model works

The 8 action teams are headed up by a committed team of Community Champions who are driving the 5 approaches, with support of the backbone team. This is what they have been working on:

  1. Celebrate Culture Action Teams
    These teams focus on small events and gatherings that promote and celebrate the vibrant, diverse local culture. The Cockburn team hosted a local Chinese New Year celebration and the Kwinana Action Team supported the Dinka Bor Traditional Dancers at a Children’s Festival.

2. Peer Support for Dads Action Team
The team is implementing a mentoring program for new Dads in collaboration with The Fathering Project. This includes:

  • Volunteer Dads being trained to run small gatherings at local cafes and parks to assist fathers along their parenting journey
  • Building awareness of the importance of Dads and father figures in childhood development.

3. Neighbourhoods Connected Action Team
In the lead up to Neighbour Day, the team is busy planning get-togethers to strengthen relationships and make a positive difference to their street and wider community. Community members participated in training on how to better connect with neighbours.

4. The Community Mothers Program
This program will involve:

  • Information sessions to recruit volunteers.
  • Collaborating with Curtin University to build and train a pool of ‘Community Mothers’ to support and mentor new mums through the first two years of their child’s life.

5. Target 100% 2 Year Old Health Checks
This involves a rapid trial being conducted (funded by the City of Cockburn). The aim is to improve family access to health checks and increase early intervention by implementing check-ups through health professionals in a day care setting.

According to Jane, the initiative wouldn’t have got this far without its band of passionate, enthusiastic and committed Community Champions who are the real heroes of this work. These mobilised community members are the lifeblood of the collective impact’s goal of improving outcomes for kids.

Download the CC4K Journey map here

Connecting Community for Kids is supported by the Woodside Development Fund

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