The Smith Family launch Ready Set Go to address Aboriginal disadvantage among school starters

STAR PUPILS: The Smith Family project coordinator Danielle Tucker and project manager Alison Harwood, at Raymond Terrace Public School with captain Jayden Blackie, 11, Milahni Elemes, 10, and Tashaya Kelly, 8.
STAR PUPILS: The Smith Family project coordinator Danielle Tucker and project manager Alison Harwood, at Raymond Terrace Public School with captain Jayden Blackie, 11, Milahni Elemes, 10, and Tashaya Kelly, 8.

A SCHOOL starters program will help boost educational outcomes for Aboriginal children in Port Stephens.

Ready Set Go responds to Australian Early Development Census data where nearly 40 per cent of Aboriginal children in Port Stephens were developmentally vulnerable in 2012.

The AEDC assesses children across five domains; Physical health and well being; Social competence; Emotional maturity; Language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge.

The troubling findings put Port Stephens right on par with the national trend. The 2015 report released this week also found that two in five Aboriginal children were developmentally vulnerable.

As the nation’s leading children’s education charity The Smith Family said this was unacceptable and has partnered with the federal government to deliver Ready Set Go.

“We are looking forward to working with many different stakeholders in our community to increase our impact so that Aboriginal children have the support, skills and confidence they need to thrive at school,” The Smith Family’s Ready Set Go project manager Alison Harwood said.

The program is built upon collective impact principles. This says that a community-driven response is best to address complex social issues especially where traditional collaborations have failed.

As part of Ready Set Go, a series of events have been planned in Raymond Terrace to engage families and communities and to strengthen understanding of collective impact, particularly within the service sector.

“The collective impact approach involves services, communities and families all working together to create the right environments where children can succeed,” Ms Harwood said.

“This approach has been chosen for Ready Set Go to address school readiness and success of Aboriginal children in our surrounding area. We know that school readiness has many dimensions and will require a collective response.”

Port Stephens Council and Ready Set Go will run a training session on collective impact which will include a planning session around school readiness for Aboriginal children on April 26 that is open to all interested people.

This workshop will be followed up with the project’s first coalition meeting on May 18.

In response to community consultation there will also be a number of engagement events planned based around culture, health and education. 

For more information contact Danielle Tucker, Ready Set Go project coordinator, on 0466 774 497 or email danielletucker@thesmithfamily.com.au.

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