Early Childhood Education Minister Sabine Winton and Thrive by Five director Jay Weatherill officially launched the Early Years Partnership Children Growing Strong program in the Great Southern on Friday.

Encompassing the shires of Tambellup-Broomehill, Kojonup, Gnowangerup and Katanning, the Central Great Southern is one of four WA sites where the 10-year program is being rolled out.

Similar community-driven programs will take place in Armadale West, Derby and Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community to ensure the diverse needs of children, from metropolitan to very remote WA, are explored, investigated and met.

It is hoped the $50 million program, funded and developed through a partnership between the WA Government and philanthropic organisation Minderoo, will improve health outcomes for Central Great Southern children by focusing on their first four years of life.

One in five children in WA is considered developmentally vulnerable by the time they start fulltime school . In the Central Great Southern, the figure is higher at one in four.

The region’s EYP plan was codesigned in partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute and Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation.

The initiative will focus on achieving better outcomes for children by focusing on child health to reduce the number of preventable child hospitalisations that occur in the Central Great Southern and increase the number of children that are meeting developmental milestones.

Co-chair of the Children Growing Strong working party Jo Webb said achieving family financial wellbeing, safety and maternal health would also be priorities of the program.

“The way that we are going to bring about change together will be unique to the Central Great Southern,” she said. Badgebup CEO Julie Hayden, who cochaired the CGS working party with Ms Webb, said the program represented change.

“Some families are struggling and can’t get out of the trough and it’s up to us to lend a helping hand,” Ms Hayden said.

“Many times, service providers are sitting there ticking boxes saying that they’ve engaged with us when they haven’t.

“It is important to ensure that healthcare funding is poured into this so that things don’t stop abruptly.

“Our community plan is about us, and we are proud that we are ready to launch our plan today.”


Badgebup employed four culturally and linguistically diverse community navigators to engage with the Central Great Southern community to shape the EYP plan, and Lisa Eades and Hafidah Eradat shared case studies with the audience.

Ms Eades described the journey of a child taken from its mother that found culture, happiness and home after being placed with extended family.

“This is one of the case studies that has had a positive outcome but I also acknowledge that many Aboriginal people haven’t had positive outcomes,” she said.

“With all of us walking and working together as one, hopefully we can make better outcomes.”

Original article written by Daniel Rooney, and published in The West Australian, South Western Times, Pilbara News, and Sound Telegraph on Tuesday 9th May 2023. Published also in the Great Southern Herald on Thursday 11 May 2023.

Monday 8 May – Jay Weatherill interviewed by Tim Wong See about the EYP.

ABC SOUTH WEST RADIO NEWS (interview audio)
Thursday 11 May  – Interview with Dr Jillan Patel about regional paediatric dental services and the impact the EYP program could have on that shortage.

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