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Early Years program to aid families

Great Southern communities will benefit from a first-of-its-kind 10-year program aimed at improving early childhood learning development.

Announced today as the first of four locations in WA — Katanning, Broomehill-Tambellup, Kojonup and Gnowangerup — are the first communities selected to be a part of the Early Years Initiative program.

EYI board co-chairwoman Dr Sue Gordon said scientific research had shown the first four years of a child’s life were critical for their future learning development.

“The Early Years Initiative will change the way government agencies work with our communities to achieve real change in the health, learning and development of children aged four years and under,” she said.

To govern the program, the EYI board will establish community groups to run the program and make decisions for their communities.

A research and evidence group will also provide research and advice to community groups.

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said the experiences in a child’s early years were critical to set them up for a happy, healthy and productive life.

“One in five Western Australian children is developmentally vulnerable,” she said.

“This initiative demonstrates a genuine commitment to change how we support families and improve the health and wellbeing of children through their early years.”

The State Government, Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids Institute will meet biennially to consider the progress of the EYI program.

The remaining three locations will be announced next year.

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