Home' Plains Producer : PP_130410 Contents Plains Producer, Wednesday April 10, 2013
Kids are not developing
Les Pearson reports:
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2 LITRE PETERS
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"Parents have hearts full of love for their
children, want the best for them and do the
best they can with what they have. The wider
community also really cares for, and values
all its children and wants to help support
Balaklava Community Children's Centre
(BCCC) director, Dale Gathercole, raised
concerns for the development of local children
at a Wakefeld Regional Council meeting and
reported in the Plains Producer about a year
ago. She said the students have done some
valuable work in recent months.
"They've approached it enthusiastically
and really tried to put the issue back to the
community," Mrs Gathercole said.
The whole arrangement has been headed
by Lower North Health occupational thera-
pist, Eliza Cottle, who was praised by Mrs
Gathercole for her efforts.
“She’s an enthusiastic and knowledgeable
professional, and combining those two things
makes her such an asset to this community,"
Mrs Gathercole said the steering commit-
tee charged with addressing the concerning
developmental data, which she has chaired,
would be dissolved next week, with a new
group forming in its place.
The group will meet for a fnal time next
Monday, before the new steering group is
established. Mrs Gathercole welcomed any-
one interested in joining this important group
to be at the RSL clubrooms in Balaklava at
"We want family people, people who are
passionate about their community and people
who are keen to work hard in the short term
for long term gain,” she said.
"We want to involve people from local
services that they can bring something to the
early development debate and have networks
to pass on. We just can't leave this issue to
chance and the community will beneft in
A summary of the “It Takes a Village to
Raise a Child” project will be presented at the
Balaklava Skate Park on Friday at 2.30pm,
which includes a free sausage sizzle.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community
to fnd out what has been achieved so far and
what it was like to be part of the process of
the last nine weeks," Ms Paton said.
“Also, what the future holds regarding ac-
tion in Balaklava to help children right from
birth do the best they can."
It is an area BCCC is also looking to
“We’re striving towards getting the mes-
sage out to families on how they can support
their children from ages 0-3, so when they
get to formal education they have those edu-
cational pathways already functioning,” Mrs
Ms Paton said there was still plenty of work
to be done and help was needed.
“Supporting children to do the best they
can at school is a priority for the whole com-
munity and the more people involved in the
action, the more children will have a better
start in life," she said.
n AS part of their community consultation, UniSA students discussed early development at a local Australian breastfeeding association
meeting. Pictured are back, from left: Kylie Catford, Dot Tiller, Roshanna Bull; Lauren, Amber and Liam March; Melissa and Elliot Smith;
Monique and Jack Pym; Gaynor Tink with Jed and Brock Hore; occupational therapy student Kirsten Hickey. Front: Kylie, Elizabeth
and Olivia Pym; Eleanor, Jonte and Lorena Burford; occuptional therapy student Deryn Paton; Jenny, Brianna and William Young.
A HIGH percentage of local chil-
dren are developmentally vulnerable
and could face ongoing educational
diffculties as they progress through
RecentAustralian Early Develop-
ment Index (AEDI) data reconfrmed
what has been known for some years
now – too many children growing up
in Balaklava and surrounding areas
aren’t given the best possible start to
Targeting fve-year-old children,
the AEDI is a population measure
of children's development as they
Based on the scores from a teach-
er-completed checklist, the AEDI
measures fve areas, or domains,
of early childhood development,
including physical health and well-
being, social competence, emotional
maturity, language and cognitive
skills (school-based), communica-
tion skills and general knowledge.
AEDI checklists were completed
for a second time in 2012, with the
frst data collected in 2009 uncover-
ing shocking statistics in Balaklava’s
The AEDI Community Profle
provides communities with AEDI
results for children in their local area.
The recent release of the Balaklava
community profle from the 2012
AEDI data was just as grim.
In the fve areas tested, children
in Balaklava revealed high levels of
vulnerability compared to nearby
areas, such as Hamley Bridge/Owen
and Outer Balaklava, which is pre-
dominantly the rest of Wakefeld
Regional Council district.
In physical health and wellbeing,
45.8 per cent of 24 children surveyed
from Balaklava were developmen-
tally vulnerable, or considered below
the tenth percentile.
Compare that to Hamley Bridge/
Owen, where only fve per cent of
20 children surveyed were consid-
ered developmentally vulnerable in
the physical health and wellbeing
In that bracket, of the 33 children
surveyed in outer Balaklava, 15.3 per
cent were believed to be developmen-
It was a common theme across
the other four areas, in language
and cognitive skills, 16.7 per cent
were developmentally vulnerable
in Balaklava, 0 per cent in Hamley
Bridge/Owen and three per cent for
Outer Balaklava. Social competence,
29.2 per cent were developmentally
vulnerable in Balaklava, fve per cent
in Hamley Bridge/Owen and 15.2 per
cent in Outer Balaklava.
The same fgures came up in the
emotional maturity domain.
In communication skills and
general knowledge, 25 per cent
of children surveyed in Balaklava
were considered developmentally
vulnerable, 10 per cent in Hamley
Bridge/Owen and 9.1 per cent in
In summary, 54.2 per cent of
Balaklava children surveyed were
considered developmentally vul-
nerable in one or more of the fve
development domains, and 37.5 per
cent vulnerable in two or more or
Compare that to the likes of
Hamley Bridge/Owen (25 per cent
for one or more, 0 per cent for two
or more) and outer Balaklava (27.3
per cent vulnerable in our or more
areas, 15.2 per cent in two or more)
and it makes for concerning reading.
Overall in Australia, 22 per cent
of children are developmentally
vulnerable on one or more domains,
while 10.8 per cent of children are
developmentally vulnerable on two
or more domains.
On a positive note, there was
signifcant improvement for children
surveyed in the Wakefeld Regional
Council district in the language and
cognitive skills area.
About 15 per cent were develop-
mentally vulnerable in this domain
in 2009, a fgure which plummeted
to 6.6 per cent in 2012.
A Country Health SA spokesper-
son said there had been much effort
put into addressing the concerning
development levels in the district.
“Country Health SA works with
local schools, government and
non-government agencies, local
kindergarten and childcare centres
as well as other visiting services to
support families in Balaklava and
the surrounding area,” the spokes-
“CHSA provides a fortnightly
supported playgroup, a fortnightly
kindergarten preparation group and
members of the team also visit Bal-
aklava regularly to provide therapy
services to families.
“It is important to recognise that it
is too early to identify trends based on
two sets of data from the Australian
Early Development Index."
Lots of love, but the 'village' needs to help
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