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Brighter future for Gippsland

The latest Wellbeing of Children and Young People Report shows that East Gippsland children are less vulnerable in 2015 than in 2012, but there is still more work to do to ensure our region's children have the best start in life.
22 March 2018
The report, due to be launched in Bairnsdale next week, is a product of the Children's Wellbeing Initiative – a collective, community-led approach to improve children's wellbeing – co-ordinated by Save the Children.

Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds will launch the report at the Bairnsdale Hub on Monday 26th March at 10am.

When launched in 2013, the first State of East Gippsland's Children and Youth Report identified several challenges in the region compared to the rest of Victoria such as emotional wellbeing, family violence, child protection and substance misuse.

The second report demonstrates how evidence-based analysis has helped the community focus resources and track the important progress of young people in the region, across 24 indicators.

It uses data from the Australian Early Development Census to track how children are performing across five developmental domains at school entry.

"This report highlights improvements, for example, in children's physical health and wellbeing, social competence, communication skills and general knowledge when starting school has improved from 2012 to 2015," Mr Ronalds said.

"However, there are still more children in East Gippsland who are developmentally vulnerable than the Victorian average."

There has been a significant decrease in the number of children who are vulnerable in emotional maturity between 2012 and 2015, with a change from 9.1 per cent to 6.4 per cent, a rate lower than the Victorian average.

The Children's Wellbeing Initiative has identified five priority areas thanks to the data presented in the first State of East Gippsland's Children and Youth report in 2013: children with additional needs, children's social and emotional wellbeing, family violence prevention, substance abuse prevention and service access.

The identification of these priority areas shows how place-based approaches can create changes at a local level to better support the wellbeing of children and young people.

"The Children's Wellbeing Initiative is guided by the leadership of a partnership between local government, health, education and community organisations," Children's Wellbeing Initiative project facilitator Rachel Bell said.

"This partnership has seen an increased focus and more resources being directed into the five priority areas to better support children in our communities."

The need for this work is reinforced by Labor MP for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing.

"Local data such as this helps communities understand the big picture for children and young people," Ms Shing said.

"The Children's Wellbeing Initiative has brought leaders and parents together to not only understand the data, but recognise how it can be used to maximise resource allocation and drive community action."

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester – a long-time supporter of the project – said the report pointed to the benefit of enabling communities to target resources for supporting children.

"This report is just another example of the important work the Children's Wellbeing Initiative is doing to improve the well-being of children and young people in East Gippsland," Mr Chester said.

"The children and young people of Gippsland will be backbone of our region in the future, so we need to ensure that, as a community, we care for and nurture them now."

Read the full report here.

Call Alex Sampson on 0429 943 027 for interviews.

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