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Central Desert Shire Council manages several early childhood services as part of its commitment to supporting constituents and their families across the shire. With all the current changes to early childhood Australia wide we are currently looking at ways to improve and expand our services to meet the needs of each individual community. CDS is focused on training local staff to continually improve the quality of services offered to families within the shire and formulating a strong vision and future plan for early childhood development.
Currently there are two Long Day Care services, in Yuendumu and Laramba, and three Crèche facilities, in Atitjere, Nyirripi and Yuelamu, a Local Supported Playgroup in Yuendumu and a Playgroup in Willowra. In other areas where no childcare facilities currently exist Council is exploring future options with government departments.
All of our children’s services employ local early childhood educators who create and run a variety of stimulating, engaging, and educational activities within a program that is catered to each individual community group they are working within. A dedicated position of Children’s Services Manager and Early Childhood Mentor support and manage these services liaising with funding bodies and external stakeholders. The services are led by Supervisors and Co-coordinators accountable to the Children’s Services Manager. All staff work in collaboration with the Shire Office staff in the community to recruit and support local early childhood educators.
In recognition of the importance of early childhood development, in line with the emergent NT Government and Australian Government focus within the Children’s Services sector, CDSCouncil participates in a number of partnerships; in particular with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Families as First Teachers, Children Services Support Program, RACSSU and World Vision Australia to support training in Certificate III in Child Care for all local staff of early childhood services. As of September 2011 Central Desert Shire has employed a Children Services Mentor, to further support and improve the translation from theory into early childhood practice. This position works closely with individual staff members creating Individual Mentor Plans to support staff development and improve practice on the ground.
School Nutrition Programs are run by CDS Council in Nyirripi, Engawala, Willowra, Wilora, Yuelamu, and Laramba with parent support these programs are able to offer school students a morning tea and a substantial meal at lunch time. School Nutrition Programs are highly supported through parent contributions which go towards the cost of the food used to cook daily meals for each student. All of these programs are run by hard working local staff members who create nutritious meals for the students to enjoy every day. Thanks to the support of community school staff and Red Cross we can also offer breakfast programs in Willowra, Wilora and Yuelamu. Four of the six School Nutrition Programs work closely with Central Desert Shire Age Care facilities cooking and training with Age Care staff. All services also participate in menu planning and nutrition training twice a year run by Axford Remote Training.
Council has a strong focus on employing, training and supporting local people to attain qualifications in early childhood development. This is a long-term goal that will provide sustainable staffing and real employment opportunities across our shire. Increasing staff stability and education therefore improving services and long term outcomes for children, students and families within the Central Desert Shire.