We’re mobilizing the community in some important ways
Together with our partners we are working across the community to build a movement as passionate and knowledgeable about child development as we are. A big part of that is empowering local families to take action on the issues that matter to them. There’s a few streams of activity that we are increasingly weaving together into an overarching community mobilization strategy.
Our community listening approach kicked of from January to June 2017 when a total of 1,205 conversations were held with the community as part of a broad-based engagement campaign. The purpose of this listening campaign was to continually test assumptions about community priorities and identify the issues that attracted energy for change in the community.
Logan Together’s Project Officer and representatives of our Community Partners spoke with parents and caregivers, frontline staff working in child and family services (including child protection), sector representatives and peak bodies.
Conversations were held at well-known local community spaces and community events including family centres, neighbourhood centres, early learning centres and at local fun days and expos. These provided a familiar and welcoming space for participants. This helped to maximise community access and participation, and encouraged diverse representation from:
- Indviduals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Young parents
- Faith groups.
Initially participants w.ere asked direct questions on pre-planned themes or topics but this method did not promote an open and rich dialogue between participants, or provide opportunities to explore solutions. The method was also susceptible to making prior assumptions and focusing on problems and deficits.
Once the Harwood approach was adopted community conversations took a new focus on understanding the aspirations of the community, what they believe needs to change in their communities, and what would move communities forward and make progress.
The program has observed the following benefits of the approach so far:
- Community conversations are more organic and allow participants to focus on the issues that are important to them
- Participants can share their stories and hopes freely, and feel heard and acknowledged<
- Community knowledge, abilities and resources can be uncovered/accessed more easily
- There are opportunities for genuine collaboration with the community to identify and develop solutions to issues they are facing.
It is through these processes that new community narratives are beginning to emerge, which highlight community competencies and strengths, and foster hope and optimism for the future. Community listening is now here to stay !
The Early Years social marketing campaign
Science and research is showing us that a child’s early years are more important that we ever knew – setting the foundations for learning, resilience and brain development. Through the delivery of a localised community education and mobilization campaign we want to support local parents to learn heaps about the behaviours and routines that will help set their kids up for life.Working with Logan Together partners, we are creating shared resources and toolkits for our community to start conversations on topics from what’s important in pregnancy, through the value of reading, singing and talking to enrolling in Kindy and Big School.
Tools like our Early Years checklist give parents and carers practical advice and guidance on steps they will need to take to enrol their child in school while our Ready for Big School Chart shows parents and kids developmental milestones that need to be considered when transitioning from early learning to school.
Download the resources here.
Enrol to Prep
In recent years, too many Preppies throughout Logan have either been turned away from school on day one for reasons which are avoidable, or been unprepared to start school and have had to enrol late. Some local schools reported around 40% of Prep students enrol just a couple of weeks before the start of term, which can leave children less prepared and settled than their peers.
The Enrol to Prep campaign was designed to reduce the number of children facing this delay in starting their school year.
A suite of materials was developed and shared across Logan Together partners, and included a Starting School Checklist, We Are Ready For Big School poster, and localized postcards with contact details for schools in each local area.
These were distributed at local community events and fun days, and by Logan Together partners who work with families – well over 100 services received the collateral, with feedback extremely positive.
A major win for this campaign was a partnership with a local McDonald’s franchisee, who manage stores in five locations across Logan. These stores displayed the Enrol For Prep posters and checklists – and distributed postcards to local families purchasing specific meals at peak times. This was an extremely successful partnership and one we hope to replicate in 2018.
Community Empowerment Agents
In late 2016 Logan Together began trialling a 0-8 Community Partners Program with support from community and philanthropic organisations. The Program aimed to mobilise the community through community partners, empowering them to take action on local issues and create positive change for kids, families and the community.
The Program uses Community Partners to access the community’s knowledge and resources and to help turn ideas into action. These Partners offer their time voluntarily. To date this program has generated significant community energy resulting in a number of successful events.
The Early Years Family Fun Days were held in July and August and attracted parents and children from across Logan to find out more about starting kindy and big school. These events were a great chance to distribute our Early Years resources to families.
In September 2017 The Early Years Pregnancy to Prep Expo provided parents with a one-stop-shop for information on birth, home learning opportunities, kindy programs, starting school and much more. The community led, community run event provided practical information and advice on how to access support services wherever parents sat on the child rearing journey. Onsite free childcare helped parents access the wealth of information Expo had to offer more easily.
The Community Partners program has subsequently evolved into the Community Empowerment Agents model which has become a key feature of how Logan Together works with the community.
The Early Years Family Guide and the Kindy Conversations which accompany them launched in January 2018, after a process of conversation, collaboration and “Kindy conversation training”.
Kindy Conversations were borne out of a desire to create a community-wide approach to increasing awareness about the benefits of kindy for young children. As many as 2,000 pre-school age children in Logan don’t attend kindy at all..
Community consultation found that two of the main barriers to kindy were families not seeing the value in a kindy program, and the assumption of a complex enrolment process.
The Family Kindy Guide was developed with the assistance of the education sector, human services sector, government representatives, faith groups and community members. There were many one on one conversations to devekop the first draft, and then feedback was taken on board to ensure everyone was happy with the final product: an appealing, simple, practical guide which featured simple language and guided parents through each step of the kindy journey.
The guides include help with childcare rebates, enrolments, questions to ask to decide which kindy is right for a family, checklists, information about the benefits of kindy and more.
After the guide was developed and approved, Kindy Conversations Training sessions were held with professionals throughout Logan who work regularly with families. These professionals were guided through the Kindy Family Guide, so that they felt equipped to have conversations with families when needed.
Since then, dozens of providers across Logan have each had dozens of conversations with families.
Positive Mindset Festival
In 2016 and 2017 we were proud to support the Positive Mindset Creative Arts Festival – an event focussed on connecting young people and raising awareness about mental health and addiction through performance and artwork.
Schools from across Logan took part in the festival which was spearheaded by Metro South Health Network and supported by Logan Together, QUT, Headspace and Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
Students explored themes around mental health and addiction through dance, drama, music, visual art and multimedia.
The benefits of the Festival went beyond the opportunity to connect through creativity. Staff and students from all participating schools were provided with access to free Mental Health First Aid training, while students from participating schools. Participating schools were also offered a professional development session on mental health for their staff and school community and schools with a category winner received a Mental Health Resources Pack for their school.