Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

A much-loved playgroup is going from strength to strength in the Flowerdale community in Victoria, following the engagement of a qualified facilitator to assist parents to develop their skills and confidence to support their child’s wellbeing and development. More than 20 families now participate in the facilitated weekly program, after the Flowerdale Community House received $26,000 from FRRR via the Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) Kinglake Ranges program in 2020 to engage a qualified Early Childhood Educator to plan and deliver the program. Previously, families who wished to access these services would have had to travel more than 30 km to either Kinglake or Yea. 

While there were a few hiccups due to COVID lockdowns, the program has bounced back and is once again supporting children and families across the Kinglake Ranges. Led by experienced educator Jill, the program provides opportunities for parents to learn about local services, to meet with other parents for support and friendship and to build social support networks in the communities in which they live. It also provides the space for the participants, both children and adults, to forge new friendships and have fun. 

“We know that relationships and community connectedness is at the heart of our community’s ongoing recovery. Playgroup plays a vital role in all communities to bring parents together, to share experiences and break down isolation; this is even more important here [in Flowerdale] as our town stretches a long distance, so meeting in the street is not a likely option as people need to travel by car to get to locations,” said Flowerdale Community House coordinator Rebekah Grant. 

“The children and parents respond very well to Jill’s calm and gentle nature, and the way she is delivering advise to sooth and encourage the children is very well received.” 

The Community House is an ideal location for the supported playgroup to operate from, as they are able to sustain this group long term. Now with a facilitator on board, they can provide more support to all families, as well as vulnerable and socially isolated families, to engage with others and the service.