06/08/2021 - 13:30

Minderoo program gets govt boost

06/08/2021 - 13:30

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Minderoo Foundation’s $50 million Early Years Initiative has gained new backing, after it was chosen to deliver a complementary federal government program.

Jay Weatherill has conceded progress on the Early Years Initiative has been slow. Photo: David Henry

Minderoo Foundation’s $50 million Early Years Initiative has gained new backing, after it was chosen to deliver a complementary federal government program.

Minderoo will be the delivery partner for the federal government’s Connected Beginnings program in three locations across Western Australia.

The selection of Minderoo has not been announced but was confirmed this week by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

It means the federal government is expected to match Minderoo’s community funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis over a three-year period.

Minderoo’s selection provides a boost for its Early Years Initiative, which was launched three years ago with considerable fanfare.

Under this initiative, Minderoo and the WA government committed $50 million over 10 years to deliver integrated services in four communities.

Connected Beginnings has similar goals – it aims to bring about systemic change in the integration of child and maternal health, family support and education services for Aboriginal children under five years of age.

The federal program has commenced in 23 communities across the country and earlier this week minister Ken Wyatt said it would be rolled out to another 27 communities, at a cost of $82 million.

Minderoo executive Jay Weatherill, who heads up the Early Years Initiative, conceded progress had been slow.

“I would have to say it’s probably at a pace that is much slower than we would normally go and there have been learnings,” he told Business News.

“We’ve got to a point where hopefully we are going to see results.”

Mr Weatherill said there had been extensive community consultation in EYI’s first three communities, where Minderoo has been contracted to deliver Connected Beginnings.

These are the central Great Southern, around Katanning and Kojonup, along with Armadale in Perth’s south and Bidyadanga in the Kimberley.

Mr Weatherill revealed the fourth EYI community will be Derby, where the federal government has already contracted World Vision as the delivery partner for Connected Beginnings.

“It has been very much about listening to what the communities want, mapping services already there and working out what they need,” he said.

“You can’t just put things into a community and say here you go.”

As well as the communities listed above, Connected Beginnings has been introduced to two other communities in WA - Kalgoorlie through delivery partner Wanslea Family Services and Roebourne through WA's Department of Communities.

The 27 new sites have not yet been selected.

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