Morwell can become a good child ‘hood’

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A thousand voices in Morwell have informed a 60-strong partnership that the town has the potential to become a good childhood place.

A Berry Street Gippsland-driven initiative, Morwell4Kids – which began last year – is making significant headway into its plan to support children from birth into adulthood.

The aim is to bring about positive social change for the town’s children and young people, with education identified as the vehicle to do just that.

“It’s to be supported for young people moving from birth all the way through to their graduation, into adulthood and the difficult transitions that are happening in between,” project coordinator Sean McLoughlin said.

“It’s really that vehicle for any social issues that are out there – education is the vehicle to address those issues.”

The Morwell4Kids partnership will sign its terms of agreement in a public event slated for Morwell’s Tarwin Street pop-up park next week.

As the partners – with the support of a broader community network – move onto taking action, they will put forward three key values for locals to agree to.

The first states the Morwell4Kids community will make Morwell a good childhood place for all.

The second says children will be supported to succeed and thrive.

The third vows to help children along a safe pathway, “from birth to brilliance”.

“Children can’t make that journey from birth through childhood, through adolescence, into adulthood, by themselves,” Mr McLoughlin said.

“It’s an unreal expectation.

“But when a community is surrounding not just their kids in that, but also their parents and also carers, and they feel safe and supported in doing the best for their kids… in terms of development, in terms of education and in terms of attachment, then we have a good childhood place in Morwell.”

The thousand voices have so far involved professionals, service groups, young people and businesses.

They have said what children need to thrive in Morwell; what happens already to make that happen; what gets in the way of making that happen and what Morwell needs to become a good childhood place.

Mr McLoughlin said locals could expect to be listened to and involved throughout the initiative, as well as be part of a community where childhood was valued.

“Young people want safety and not just personal safety, but also the safety to express themselves and to grow and form an identity,” Mr McLoughlin said.

“The other big thing that we’ve got out of our consultations is this idea of hope… there very much is a sense of hope in our community and if there’s a sense of hope, there’s a sense that things are getting better and building.”

The next steps for Morwell4Kids will be deciding what action to take and how that will be measured so people know change is happening.

The initiative is funded for two years through the John Brunner Foundation, with the RE Ross Trust making the consultation possible.

The intention is to create a long-term, sustainable movement.

Head along to the Tarwin Street pop-up park in Morwell from 11am on Wednesday to show your support.

There, people will have the opportunity to sign and place a handprint on a banner, in agreement with the Morwell4Kids’ values.