Our Working Groups
Working groups allow people with a common interest in a particular area to develop and implement practical, on the ground strategies. They bring together practitioners, agencies, groups and members of the community who are genuinely interested in making change in a particular area.
Working groups include:
- Reading with Children
- Reaching Families
- Family Support Collective
- Gympie-Cooloola Partnerships Against Domestic and Family Violence
Research shows that the frequency of reading with children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their school outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment. Just ten minutes a day can have a significant impact. When the Reading with Children Working Group formed, the data showed only 62.2% of Prep students were being read with regularly at home in the years before they started school. With our local data falling significantly below the rate for Queensland (71.8%) and Australia (75.1%) (AEDC, 2015), we knew that reading with children was one aspect of child development where we could have an impact.
The goals of the working group are to increase the number of children who are read with before they start school and to improve literacy outcomes through a collaborative approach involving early learning centres, schools, Gympie Regional Council (GRC) and its libraries, health and family support programs, the Early Years Hub and the broader community.
The working group developed an action plan and started to share data. They coordinate and promote programs to support reading with children, including Gympie Regional Libraries’ First Five Forever and 1000 Books B4 School, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The group also collected local data via a parent/carer survey to explore the frequency of reading with children in the early years, parental attitudes and experiences with reading, and things that get in the way. The results indicate that 77% of parent/carers were reading with their children in the first year of their child’s life and 65% of parents read with their child on most days. This left 35% who read with their child at a frequency of once or twice a week or less, which is something that we’d like to change. The results were collated in the 2018 Reading With Children Survey Report available through the Gympie LLA.
The working group has developed several exciting initiatives and projects including:
- The Growing Gympie Kids Facebook Group which now has over 650 members;
- Books4Kids – a community book swap and storytelling initiative at Gympie Central shopping centre;
- What’s on For Kids Under 5.
The Reaching Families Working Group formed through consultation within the community sector around the barriers faced by families with young children when accessing support services. The geographical (and social) isolation experienced by families, hard edges of service providers, and families who are reluctant to engage in support were identified as areas to concentrate on. It was broadly accepted that opportunities to hear the voices of families were often lacking in planning and service delivery models and needed to be addressed. Along with considering best practice and research, we have set challenges amongst existing service providers to remove ‘hard edges’, we have been inspired by guest speakers, and we’ve trialled some new local initiatives designed to connect with families earlier.
The Family Support Collective (FSC) provides an avenue for Family and Child Connect (FaCC) and key family and support agencies to use case coordination to determine the most appropriate supports for vulnerable families. The FSC also provides an opportunity to identify gaps in the provision of support for families that can be fed directly to the LLA. The FSC has eight core members who meet fortnightly.
The FSC continues to identify systemic concerns and challenges and where possible develops local solutions. Some systemic concerns identified so far include: the number and complexity of referrals; increased challenges with housing availability and affordability (including a significant number of families living in cars and tents); and the need to find accommodation arising from domestic violence.
The Gympie-Cooloola Partnerships Against Domestic and Family Violence has worked collaboratively for many years to prevent and respond to domestic and family violence. With the inclusion of family and domestic violence as part of the LLA agenda, this network became a working group of the LLA. This step helped to align the domestic and family violence reforms at the local level and deliver a more connected and integrated service system for people affected by domestic and family violence. Our approach recognises that domestic and family violence is everyone’s concern and supports the development of whole-of-community responses.
Combining the efforts and resources of service providers, government agencies and the community, the group has delivered sector training, developed new resources and initiatives to respond to domestic violence, and organised community events to raise awareness. The group meets monthly.
In May 2019 the group hosted the annual Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month walk down Mary St. Many businesses in Mary St had agreed to display the new community resource, ‘What can I do to help Someone Affected by Domestic and Family Violence?’ on their front counters for the month of May. During the walk, the resources were hand-delivered to participating businesses. The event also included performances at the Mary St Amphitheatre including the One Billion Rising dancers and Domestic Violence Prevention Cupcakes.
The group also developed a new brochure for the Court Support program to de-mystify the process around protection orders. These brochures are now supplied to anyone asking about applying for a protection order at the court registry. Police have also been encouraged to give these out when serving respondents.
Safe and Together Training for agencies in the community was delivered during October-November 2019. The Safe and Together Model is an internationally recognised suite of tools and interventions designed to help child welfare professionals become domestic violence-informed.
The group is working with the Primary Health Network to develop an education strategy for GPs around best practice in the diagnosis, treatment and referral for strangulation within a domestic violence context.