A COMMUNITY meeting will investigate ways to slash Gunnedah’s high childhood learning vulnerability rate in half.
One in five children in Gunnedah is developmentally vulnerable and not ready to start school at the age of five, according to the 2015 Australian Early Development Census Data.
The Gunnedah community has recognised that a childhood learning vulnerability rate of more than 20 per cent is too high, and has set a target to reduce this rate to 10 per cent. That goal is aligned with Every Gunnedah Child’s aim, a program that aims to ensure every five-year-old in Gunnedah is ready to start school and has the best possible start to life.
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Royal Far West, a non-government organisation that provides health services to children living in rural and remote NSW, has teamed up with Fairfax Media and Charles Sturt University to bring together the health, education and government industries to discuss with parents how the Gunnedah community can tackle vulnerability.
“We are seeking parents, teachers, health care workers, and members of the business community, to speak with our panel about the trends they are seeing in local children, the challenges they face in accessing supports for children and families, and what is working locally,” Royal Far West CEO Lindsay Cane said.
“Once we have gathered this information, we will work with local organisations and Charles Sturt University to create a plan for change, lobby for more targeted funding, and work to build the capacity of the local community to support vulnerable families.
“In the long term, this means we will have a stronger safety net for identifying children at an early age, helping them to be ready to learn when they start school, and improving their chances of succeeding at school.”
Ms Cane said it was crucial children have the opportunity to be ready to learn when they start school.
“With help, we can turn this around, ensuring children have a successful school experience, which provides the foundation for greater health, happiness and success in life,” she said.
Everyone is invited to attend the community meeting at Smithurst Theatre, 152 Conadilly Street, Gunnedah on Thursday, November 23 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
To register, visit www.royalfarwest.org.au/town-hall