Minderoo Foundation has teamed up with a community care provider in Western Australia’s Great Southern region to deliver relief packs to families left vulnerable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A team of volunteers has delivered the 300 relief packs, which include health and hygiene essentials, books, and activities for children aged 3-5 from regional families in need. The partnership with A Smart Start Great Southern (ASSGS) is the latest phase of Minderoo Foundation’s $5 million community support program, which forms part of the philanthropic organisation’s comprehensive COVID-19 response.
An early childhood initiative, ASSGS works to provide community care in times of crisis. When COVID-19 hit, the service provider deployed a rapid response team to identify families at risk.
ASSGS chairperson Jo Webb said social isolation, job loss, food insecurity, mental health, early education needs, and communication of health hygiene messages were identified as common areas of concern among regional communities.
“With playgroups and kindies being closed, parents raised their concerns about not being able to give their children the same learning opportunities at home,” Ms Webb said.
“We took that feedback and, with the support of Minderoo Foundation, are now providing locally-sourced products and materials as part of both immediate and ongoing relief.”
Two relief packs were put together: a health hygiene pack which supports the key COVID-19 messages of washing hands and coughing safely, plus a home activity pack to encourage learning while having fun which includes boardgames, puzzles, a story book, card games, a scrap book and coloured pencils and crayons.
As part of the Minderoo Foundation COVID-19 Response, co-founders Andrew and Nicola Forrest provided medical equipment to protect frontline WA health workers and increased testing capacity. However, Mrs Forrest said basic care and comfort for isolated families and kids in the bush was also critically important.
“No matter who you are or where you live, the threat of COVID-19 has presented challenges to life as we know it,” Mrs Forrest said.
“Supporting families with young children to ensure educational needs are met is something I am particularly passionate about, which can’t be forgotten in these challenging times. A Smart Start is such an impactful program and we are proud to be able to contribute to extending its reach.”
Information on the Bright Tomorrows app developed by CoLab, a partnership between Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids Institute, is also included in the relief packs. The app was built in partnership with Vroom, the Bezos Family Foundation and the Raising Children Network.
The app is a free tool that helps parents and carers keep young children’s brains active and engaged from birth to five years of age.