Goodstart Kingaroy leads support network
has played a leading role in ensuring children and families have access to critical support services by bringing together 66 service providers and forming the South Burnett Under 4s Reference Group.
When funding was cut for many services in 2012, vulnerable families within the community were left unable or unaware of how to connect with the support they needed.
“It happened quite quickly and as a community we were left without critical services like a forensic nurse, disability nurse, paediatrician, mental health support and more,” said Goodstart Kingaroy centre director, Peta Clarkson.
“It left us wondering how families who need help would find support. So we put a call out to the services we knew of to try and pull everyone together.”
What started as a meet and greet among local services quickly took on greater purpose as the realisation grew among the representatives that awareness of the network of services available was low, even among themselves.
“At times previously, we all felt a little helpless when we identified a family in need because we didn’t know who to connect them with,” Ms Clarkson continued.
“As we became more aware and connected as services, we were able to work out the obstacles faced by families and the community and build a picture of where each service could offer support.
“Because we’re more connected now, each of the services have been able to build each other’s capacity which is a win for ourselves, families and children.”
To learn more about how to best serve the community, the group conducted research which uncovered insights that helped them develop ways to engage with families in need.
“We conducted an online survey through all the local childcare centres, and we hit the street to collect even more.
“A big obstacle we needed to overcome was that many of the most vulnerable families didn’t actually know there was any support at all for them.
“So we learned as much as we could through the surveys, and found places we could connect with them.”
The learnings led to the group forming a Facebook group and hosting a number of family days where children were entertained with activities while service representatives engaged with families and helped guide them to the right areas for support.
“The recent event we held was organised by Family and Child Connect
. We used the opportunity to hand out information and gently engage, rather than pushing individual services.
“It’s completely community minded, and by approaching it this way all services and families benefit.”
Five years since the formation of the group, Ms Clarkson and her centre have become something of a safe place for families to approach as a first step in seeking assistance.
“We’re delighted to play this role, and personally I’m glad I can continue to facilitate the group.
“Five years ago, the services rarely communicated on anything. Now we pick the phone up all the time and meet regularly.
“I’m always being invited by other services to attend meetings or training and collectively, we’ve become the go-to group for the South Burnett.”