Strategic action plan (2011 - 2014)

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Introduction

This plan is to improve the health, development, learning and wellbeing of children in the City of Whittlesea from pregnancy through to nine years of age.

The Partnership seeks to engage with and encourage the participation of agencies that provide Early Years services in the municipality, to work with and advocate for children, families, services and the community to foster inclusive, responsive and supportive environments for children.

Background and context

The Whittlesea Early Years Partnership (WEYP) has evolved from the Best Start Partnership 2003-2006, which had its origins in the City of Whittlesea's Children's Services Network.

This evolution initially occurred in response to the identified need of service providers to establish a local forum for information and resource sharing to support individual service delivery. Today, WEYP’s commitment is to continue developing an integrated planning system across Whittlesea's Early Years Sector to improve childhood outcomes across all areas of their social, emotional and physical health.

In 2010 WEYP broadened its scope to participate within the Whittlesea Community Futures Partnership (WCF), representing the key priority area "Child and Family Cluster". In turn, the Best Start Project incorporated both its early links to Council's Municipal Early Years Plan (MEYP) and more recently extending to include the Family and Youth Plan 2012 - 2014.

Historically, the City of Whittlesea (CoW) auspices the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) funding on behalf of the WEYP Partners, employing and managing the Partnership Facilitators role and ensuring implementation of the Action Plan.

Introduction to our community

The City of Whittlesea is located 20km north of Melbourne. It is a large municipality covering an area of 490 km2 of both rural and urban areas. The suburbs of the municipality include Bundoora, Donnybrook, Doreen, Eden Park, Epping, Epping North, Humevale, Kinglake West, Lalor, Mernda, Mill Park, South Morang, Thomastown and Whittlesea Township.

The City of Whittlesea is one of Victoria's fastest growing municipalities. It has a population of over 162,000 that is projected to grow rapidly with the extension of the urban growth boundary to 300,000 in the next 20 years. The City of Whittlesea features both an urban fringe in the West and a vast rural landscape in the North which has created its own challenges in terms of service and infrastructure provision. However, the rapid transformation of Whittlesea into a growth corridor of metropolitan significance has stretched current services and infrastructure to its limits. The gap between demand and supply of human service delivery and infrastructure needs has widened considerably.

Population and growth

According to the ABS latest population data Whittlesea is the second fastest growing municipality in Australia. In 2010 the population of Whittlesea grew by 8,890 which represent a 6.1% increase on the previous year. There are 171 people on average moving into Whittlesea every week. The pace of growth in the population is estimated to continue and to increase over the next 20 years. Most projections estimate that by 2031, the population of Whittlesea will be around 300,000.

(Source – CoW atlas id 2011)

Families

Nearly three-quarters of all families in the City of Whittlesea (71.5%) have children, compared with the Melbourne Statistical Division, MSD, (63.8%) and Victoria (62.2%). The predominant family structure in the City of Whittlesea continues to be a couple families with children (55.7%), compared with metropolitan Melbourne (48.4%) or Victoria (46.8%).

Cultural diversity

The Whittlesea population is richly diverse representing an overseas-born population coming from 140 countries. In 2006, 29.6% of the City of Whittlesea's population were from a non English speaking backgrounds (NESB) country compared to 22.0% in the Melbourne Statistical Division (MSD).

(Source - VLGA Statistics Summary Report ww.vlga.org.au)

The percentage of population speaking languages other than English is 43.1% for Whittlesea compared with 26.5% for the MSD, making Whittlesea the fourth highest languages other than English (LOTE) municipality out of 79 Victorian Municipalities.

While the City of Whittlesea had a relatively higher proportion of persons from a NESB country, it is important to note that this varied across the City. Proportions ranged from a low of 4.5% in Mernda-Doreen to a high of 49.3% in Thomastown (West). The five areas with the highest percentages were:

  • Thomastown (West) (49.3%)
  • Thomastown (47.0%)
  • Lalor (West) (46.8%)
  • Lalor (43.6%)
  • Thomastown (East) (43.0%) (Source - CoW atlas id 2011)

Aboriginal early years

There were 843 people who identified as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) or both in the City of Whittlesea on the night of the 2006 Census. This is an increase of almost 24% on the number of people who identified as ATSI or both in the 2001 Census. The Aboriginal population in the City of Whittlesea is young, with the median age for Aboriginal residents in the municipality being 17 years of age. In contrast, the median age of non-Indigenous residents is 32 years.

(Source - ABS 2006 Indigenous Status by Age for Time Series, ABS, Canberra)

A total of 148 Aboriginal households in the City of Whittlesea reported they had children aged 0-8 years. Of these 148 households 49% were couple families and 51% were one parent families. (ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing)

Leadership for Aboriginal Early Years services comes from the local Aboriginal community members; this is currently expressed and demonstrated through the Bubup Wilam Early Learning Project.

Socio-economic indicies for areas (SEIFA) index

The municipality of Whittlesea's SEIFA Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage is 978 which ranks it at number 27 in level of disadvantage among the 79 Municipalities of Victoria. This ranking places Whittlesea just above the third most disadvantaged municipalities in Victoria.

The SEIFA indexes (2006) at the suburb level shows that Lalor and Thomastown are the most disadvantaged suburbs in the municipality and amongst the most disadvantaged in the State.

SEIFA 2006 Precinct Disadvantage
Lalor 891
Thomastown 892
Epping 974
Epping/Epping North 977
Epping North 1048
Mill Park 1008
Whittlesea Township 1016
Bundoora 1021
South Morang 1049
Rural North 1058
Blossom Park 1074

(Source - CoW atlas id 2011)

Purpose of the Whittlesea Early Years Parnership (WEYP)

The purpose of WEYP is to:

  • Improve the health, development, learning and well-being of children in the Whittlesea municipality from pregnancy through to nine years of age
  • Engage with and seek the participation of agencies that provide services to children in the City of Whittlesea
  • To work with and advocate for children, families, services and the community
  • To foster inclusive, responsive and supportive environments for children
  • To develop a WEYP Action Plan that aligns to the MEYP, the Whittlesea Community Futures Family and Children Cluster Terms of Reference and Plan

Vision of WEYP

All children in the City of Whittlesea will have optimal opportunity for language, cognitive, physical and emotional development in a community that has the capacity to be inclusive, to support all families and enables all children to thrive.

Values and principles of the partnership

Values

  • Social inclusivity
  • Collaboration of services to ensure that sustainable seamless service provision is accessible to the whole community
  • Practice based evidence and flexible ways of working
  • Family strengths, family resilience and celebrating and preserving the family

Principles

  • The WEYP accepts the UNICEF principles as a framework for action on building Child Friendly Cities
  • That all parents want the best for their children
  • That partner agencies have individual strengths and a diversity of interests
  • The mutual development and training of members is essential
  • Learning and adapting to change is vital

Participants in the partnership

Membership is inclusive and may be drawn from a wide range of services as noted below. It is acknowledged that membership involves a commitment of time and resources.

WEYP is comprised of Early Years service providers; including Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Kindergartens, Child Care Services, Allied Health Professionals, Library Services, RMIT, Community Houses, local Primary Schools, Early Intervention Services and other regional and local community based agencies, serving and resourcing the Whittlesea community. There are currently 38 partner agencies/organisations involved in the implementation of the Action Plan.

WEYP action plan method and scoping process

The consultation process in developing this plan was conducted over a 15 month period and included the following:

  • Individual agency meetings to identify core business, priorities and explore partnership opportunities
  • Two Workshops conducted by Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) focusing on WEYP strucutre, visioning and priorities
  • Partnership presentation by Tim Moore (Murdoch Childrens Reasearch Institute) - "Effective Partnerships - the changing structure of society and community need"
  • Individual agencies input to the Whittlesea's Human Services Needs Analysis (HSNA) survey conducted by WCF. Broader outcome being WEYP coopted to form the "Early Years Cluster" on WCF Partnership
  • Participation in WCF Strategic Planning Forum and Workshop (2010)
  • WEYP Partnership Survey - "Service Priorities for Partner Agencies and Organisations"
  • WEYP Action Plan Working Group formed to reflect and interpret broad range of emerging data and inform the action planning process
  • Access to Preliminary Data Collection from CoW atlas id 2011 (including local demographics and impact of interface growth projections)
  • Attendance at two CCCH Workshops - Partnership Evaluation and Evaluation Based Planning (Platforms)
  • The Partnerships participation in DEECD's Interface Council's Best Start Evaluation (2010)
  • Broader data and literature review of a range of community profiles, reports and resources including AEDI, SEIFA and Best Start Initiatives (e.g Atlas)
  • Consideration was also given to how other major initiatives currently underway in City of Whittlesea inform and off set the Action Plan - such as:
    • Bubup Wilam for Early Learning
    • Universal Access Project
    • Shape Your Future Thomastown/Lalor Project
    • Whittlesea Community Futures Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities Family Violence Project

The outcome of the consultation and scoping processes described above underpins the direction for the Action Plan and clearly identified four key priorities for the Partnership – namely:

  • Family Violence
  • Schools as Community Hubs
  • Early Intervention (Waiting Lists and Literacy)
  • Parent Participation

Planning Whittlesea's early years partnership action plan

"Every young Victorian thrives, learns and grows to enjoy a productive, rewarding and fulfilling life, while contributing to their local and global communities."

(Victorian Early Learning and Development Framework, 2009.)

The following document is a summary of the strategies (and activities) identified by WEYP. These respond to Federal, State and Local Government strategic directions in service delivery. These are informed by local service knowledge including non government agencies and their identified community need. The strategies draw upon Best Start Indicators and evidence as detailed in the body of this plan.

The template used for this Action Plan was designed by DEECD’s Best Start Project and is divided into six Sections:

  • Section 1 - Priorities and Data Sources
  • Section 2 - Impact Indicators
  • Section 3 - Summary Strategies and Activities
  • Section 4 - Process Indicators
  • Section 5 - Broad Budget Allocation to Strategies
  • Section 6 - Approval and Sign Off

Finally, this Action Plan will remain a "living" document and will be amended and modified as required, in response to identified need and resource.


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