When you support Geelong Mums, St Kilda Mums and Eureka Mums, you support babies and children right across Victoria. In 2018, VCOSS reported that more than 1 in 6 Victorian children live in poverty (18.7% or 198,600 children). In regional Victoria it is 1 in 5.
The need is great and in 2017 we began our Every Baby Every Town project, overseen by our dedicated Regional Coordinator, Danielle. The project exists to support babies and children experiencing disadvantage in regional areas. The top findings from our recent evaluation of the project show that, in the space of two short years, you have already made huge impact on the lives of families living in regional Victoria. The evaluation also shows that there is still so much work to be done:
- We have experienced a 44% average annual growth in our regional service delivery over the past two years (growth is measured by the number of babies and children receiving our service).
- We were able to support 13.1% of all children living in poverty in rural and regional Victoria in 2018/19.
- Of the 20,403 babies and children we supported in 2018/19, 8,759 were living in rural and regional Victoria.
- We had greatest impact in the Barwon South West and Grampians regions, reaching 34% and 18% of babies and children living in poverty, respectively.
- We have identified Gippsland, Hume and the Loddon Mallee as regions where we will need to focus future efforts to reach more babies and children. These are areas where need is great, but our service delivery is currently low.
- The rate of car passenger related injury for children aged 0 - 4 and 5 - 9 in rural and regional Victoria is increasing despite efforts of TAC ‘towards zero’. Whilst the rate is decreasing in metropolitan Melbourne, it is increasing in rural and regional Victoria. This disparity is particularly evident in 5 - 9 year old children, where the rate of injury in rural and regional residing children is double that of their metropolitan counterparts. Access to safe car seats, and fitting, must be a priority for regional families.
The growth and reach of our service in rural and regional Victoria is incredible and has been made possible by the support of people like you. Victorian Freight Specialists have generously provided regional transportation of our material aid free of charge, and we have received the philanthropic support of the Barr Family Foundation, Portland House Foundation, Gourlay Charitable Trust, Ian Potter Foundation, Jack Brockhoff Foundation and the John & Betty Laidlaw Legacy.
We are alarmed by the scale of poverty, preventable childhood injury and social isolation in the rural and regional areas of our state, but we are buoyed by the impact we have already achieved with your support, and we continue to strive for our dream of reaching every baby, in every town who needs our support.