Midland: report raises concerns over development of vulnerable children

L-R: Helen Dullard (Chairperson for we the people), Lisa Joy (Manager Childrens Services at the Shire of Mundaring), Di Ryder (Noongar Elder), Raeleen McAllister (Midvale Hub). Photo: David Baylis
L-R: Helen Dullard (Chairperson for we the people), Lisa Joy (Manager Childrens Services at the Shire of Mundaring), Di Ryder (Noongar Elder), Raeleen McAllister (Midvale Hub). Photo: David Baylis

DESPITE significant effort and investment, there has been little improvement in the developmental status of vulnerable children in the Midland region in recent years, according to a new report.

The report, Supporting Children and their Families in the Midland Region, estimated around 100 local families with children ready to start school were developmentally behind their peers and could benefit from a new approach to delivering services to vulnerable families.

Australian Early Development Census data shows Bellevue, Koongamia, Middle Swan, Midvale, Midland and Swan View have the greatest number of children and families facing adversity.

East Metropolitan region not-for-profit We the People worked with CoLab, a partnership between the Telethon Kids Institute and Minderoo Foundation, to investigate the needs of local families with children aged from zero to eight and the services that exist to support them.

CoLab Co-Director of Policy David Ansell said there was a significant minority of children in the region who could improve their development with better support.

“It was not possible through this study to fully evaluate the extent to which the combined community and social services are meeting the needs of local children and their families,” he said.

“However, stakeholder consultations suggest that many services have barriers to uptake and many local families find it difficult to ‘navigate’ the service systems when they need support.”

In launching the report today, We the People chairperson Helen Dullard said it would put a spotlight on child development in the area.

“This report suggests that we can do better and should be a conversation starter and a catalyst for change,” she said.

“The findings show Midland is ready for a new approach to delivering services to families with young children.

“I would like the community and all decision-makers to be part of a conversation about new ways of service delivery and think about how they might be a catalyst for change in the interests of giving all local children real opportunities.”

The report calls for ‘bottom-up’ service changes and encourages boldness in redesigning services in partnership with families and members of the community.

It suggests the next steps are to work closely with local people to find the best solutions for the issues confronting vulnerable families and to remove common roadblocks to children’s early development.

Minderoo Foundation chief executive Nicola Forrest said CoLab was established in partnership with Telethon Kids to provide support for initiatives like this.

“Our mission is to bring high quality evidence and expertise to communities to support the already excellent work underway in places like Midland,” she said.

“The momentum for change being driven by this community is commendable.

“We look forward to following and learning from the Midland community as it works to improve outcomes for children and families.”

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