Enhancing the impact of integrated early years supports in Australia

The first five years of a child’s life is a time of rapid development that lays the foundations for health and wellbeing later in life. During this time, children must be nurtured, supported and protected to ensure they grow up happy, healthy and thriving. 

Unfortunately, not every child in Australia is getting the support they need. Significant inequalities – both in developmental and educational outcomes – exist between children experiencing socio-economic vulnerability and their peers. 

In Australia, Integrated Child and Family Centres (ICFCs) have the potential to meet many of the needs of children and families experiencing socio-economic vulnerability. Offering a unique set of wrap-around supports that are responsive to the needs of children and their families, they are a safe space to build social networks. Equally important, they also provide a range of crucial services: early learning programs, maternal and child health, and other targeted supports. With the right approach, ICFCs can help fill a major gap in the current early years landscape. 

Over the past few years, Social Ventures Australia (SVA) have been exploring how the current system could better respond to the unmet need of children and families experiencing disadvantage across Australia.  

This year, together with our partners, we are exploring ways to increase the impact of integrated early years supports in shaping happy, healthy and thriving children. 

Together with the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), we hosted a hybrid event with Deloitte Access Economics to launch two exciting new papers exploring the critical role of ICFCs, the key enablers to increase their impact and pathways to scale up and better embed them into Australia’s early years policy and service system. Our panel of sector leaders included:  

  • Tim Moore, Senior Research Fellow, CCCH, MCRI
  • Caitlin Graham, Policy and Program Manager, Early Childhood, SVA
  • Cassy Bishop, Manager, Cairns & Gordonvale Early Years Centres, The Benevolent Society
  • Lachlan Smirl, Partner, Deloitte Access Economics