Central Great Southern communities will be the first to partner in a new program to improve the growth of children under four.
Katanning, Broomehill-Tambellup, Kojonup and Gnowangerup will join the Early Years Initiative, designed to boost the health, learning and development of young Western Australians.
“It’s a sad fact that one in five children in WA are developmentally vulnerable,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
“While early childhood development is complex, together, with initiatives like the Early Years, we can do more to help WA families.”
The 10-year partnership between the State Government, Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids will work with the communities and collect data in a number of geographical areas.
Data gathered will provide a strong evidence base to determine what works for Western Australian children.
Research has revealed a wide scope to improve early childhood, with the support enabling the local community to assess the needs of children and families to develop their own 10-year evidence-informed community plans.
The Central Great Southern was chosen because of its high population of children under four, with research revealing a wide scope to improve early childhood outcomes.
The Great Southern communities will combine to represent the regional partner community, with a total population of 8,500 with more than seven per cent of children aged under four.
Three more communities will be announced in 2019.
According to the Australian Early Development Census, one in five children aged four years and under in WA is considered developmentally vulnerable.
Mr McGowan said the needs of children have to be acknowledged to help them develop and thrive.
“It’s vital we listen to families across the State and learn about what will work for their community,” he said.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said that young children’s experiences are vital to determining “a happy, healthy and productive life”.
She said the program will help identify what young children need to develop in each community.
“This is an innovative model which gives the community a key role in determining the best way to support early childhood development in their own community combined with international best practice,” Ms McGurk said.
“It demonstrates a genuine commitment to change how we support families and improve the health and wellbeing of children through their early years.”