Our research partners at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is providing additional support and expertise the Central Goldfields Children and Families Partnership with a RTO complimentary ‘solutions’ study to understand the barriers and facilitators to participation in antenatal care, early childhood education and care and parenting programs for vulnerable families within our community. 

The study supports work currently underway in the Children and Families space around the social connection of our families, particularly those in antenatal and the first year after birth.


Our Children and Families Partnership has assisted the Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) with data collection across five early childhood areas including; Antenatal, Enhanced maternal and child health, Early childhood education and care, Parenting programs, and the Early years of primary school.

This work is part of the nation-wide ‘Restacking the Odds’ initiative aimed at improving outcomes for disadvantaged children in Australia by reducing developmental inequities to enable them to reach their potential. Central Goldfields Shire is one of ten sites across Australia participating in the work.

The findings of the study will provide local evidence and base-line data to the partnership highlighting priority areas for our work.  Participation in this initiative will assist us to strengthen our strategies to improve outcomes for children and families in the Shire.

Our community is highly valued because of the level of trust between our collaborators and the Institute, our dedicated engagement with data and evidence-driven work, and on-going capacity building of our agents of change.

Lead researcher Dr. Carly Molloy visited Maryborough in April with members of her Research Team to deliver a presentation about ‘Restacking the Odds.’ A further Participation Study was also conducted in our Shire as a complementary study to the core ‘Restacking the Odds’ study.

More than 15 local representatives from antenatal, maternal and child health, child care, kindergartens, and schools were in attendance and provided valuable input on areas including – parent support, home nurse visits, early childhood education, and care, and school-based early intervention.

We continue to work together to take steps to address the primary issues and to establish an actionable, evidence-based benchmark framework so that that together we can improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children.


~ Dr. Carly Molloy – Senior Research Officer and Project Manager, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, ‘Restacking the Odds’ initiative.


Social connection opportunities have been accommodated with the creation of a drop in space known as ‘The Nest’ for fathers, pregnant women and parents with babies in their first year. This was in response to findings of a survey conducted during August and September 2018, completed by parents of children less than 1 year of age.

The results of the survey highlighted the importance of new parents groups that facilitate parents to meet and connect with each other and the importance of this social connection being facilitated.  Parents made this very clear, that it doesn’t just happen, that getting help to form friendships with other parents who have similar age children is more important than being provided with information.

The trial commenced in February 2019 at Maryborough District Health Service, Wellness Centre.  Responses from participants have been extremely positive.

This project connects to the Priority Area objective: All children experience a positive, supportive family environment.


The Early Years Forum provides learning and networking opportunities each term for the early years’ sector representatives in the Central Goldfields.

In 2019 the workshops included; Speech and Language: Early intervention before school with MDHS Speech Pathologists providing information to support Phonological Awareness; Go Goldfields Collaborative Table / Community Representatives providing information about the Build Your Village Here website and where to find other information for children and families; the Curator and Education Officer at Central Goldfields Art Gallery providing information about the 12-month creative program in collaboration with educators from the Goldfields Family Centre Kindergarten; Roles and resources for the embedding of aboriginal perspectives into services with the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BDAC) and the Koorie Education Support Officer (DET), and; Workshops about preparations for transitions from kindergarten to school. Leadership is provided by the Forum Committee members Sherelle Mortlock (AG Leech Kindergarten), Cat Forster (Dunolly Kindergarten), Carolyn Tynan / Anna Bucknall (Carisbrook School), the Best Start Facilitator and the Go Goldfields Early Years Facilitator.


Our International Women’s Day (IWD) Progress and Equity partnership event held Tuesday 10th March was a great success, full of celebration and reflection, with just over 100 people in attendance. Guests and participants enjoyed inspiring words from our guest speaker, Leigh Woodgate. Zonta Club of Central Goldfields Bronwen Haywood, presented the 2020 Study recipients, and two young local women shared their Letters to the Past and Future as an extension of the Go Goldfields young women in letters project.

A panel of community representatives including Belinda McKnight, David Sutton, and Samatha Rothman reflected on gender equity. Lucy Roffey, Central Goldfield’s Shire Council CEO officially launched the Shire’s new Gender Equity Statement and showed a short film with highlights from the Changing our Story project so far plus the community-led 16 Days 2019 program. Discussion and networking followed with supper being served after the stage program and our community gave thanks for another meaningful collaboration between Council and the Shire’s dedicated social change community networks.


The Pop-Up Youth Hub located in Maryborough is a Go Goldfields partnership initiative supported by a number of key agencies operating across Central Goldfields. The organisations involved in establishing the Hub, which includes Maryborough District Health Service (MDHS), Anglicare Victoria, Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), and Central Goldfields Shire Council are part of the Go Goldfields Youth Alliance. The Alliance aims to improve outcomes for young people and families across the Shire through stronger collaboration between the local community and local services, businesses and decision-makers. The Hub will operate from February 2020.

You can find more information here: www.centralgoldfields.vic.gov.au/Community-Services/Youth/Youth-Hub


A proposed model for a wrap-around service centre and youth hub is in progress. A youth hub will increase opportunities for youth connectivity as well as centralising and maximising youth services. The Go Goldfields YES Alliance, Collaborative Table and Central Goldfields Shire Council are driving the advocacy for a youth hub.

The youth hub proposal has drawn upon the Central Goldfields Shire Council youth development plan to form a pitch for funding. There is advocacy to scope the project with a business plan being funded by Go Goldfields, Western Victorian Public Health Network and other partners.
Advocacy is also underway to ensure that the proposed hub is included and considered in key strategic development plans for the region including:

  • The Central Goldfields Shire Council Plan 2017-2021
  • The Loddon Campaspe Investment Prospectus
  • The Central Highlands Victoria Regional Investment Plan
  • Loddon Campaspe Regional Partnership

Our Shire leaders are actively advocating for young people and recognise the priority for a Youth Hub with integrated social services in the Shire and aims to attract over $5 million for such a facility.  


This annual free family and community event was held in August at the Maryborough Community Hub. Cultural activities including singing in Dja Dja Wurrung language, community weaving, clap sticks, Ochre painting, and sharing of traditional bush foods. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island stories entertained children and traditional Possum Skin Cloaks were on display yielding rich learning experiences for all. Early Years Services across the shire participate, providing an important opportunity for services, organisations and our children to increase their understanding of Aboriginal culture. Partners included; Education & Training Victoria, Anglicare Victoria, Best Start, Connecting Country, Vic Police, NDIS Intereach, Go Goldfields, and Central Goldfields Shire Council.

This project connects to the Children and Families impact area objective: All children engage and participate in community activities


The Family Safety Justice and Accountability group led by the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre established the Maryborough Community Legal Service (a free legal advice service) in Maryborough to provide legal advice for people experiencing Family Violence, Family Law or Child Protection legal problems. It also offers Legal Health Check’ sessions to organisations, to fully understand the services we can offer. We held three towards the end of 2019 and will be in touch with other organisations with offers. There is a strong sense that the service is becoming more widely known and that this is enhanced by being co-located at MDHS. The ‘Tipping The Scales’ program finishes up at the end of March 2020, Clear Horizon has been engaged to undertake a final evaluation in early 2020. The ‘Therapeutic Justice Program’ (in collaboration with Maryborough District Health Service) that places a Social Worker in the Court context and a Lawyer in the hospital context to provide social supports to clients with complex socio-legal needs will continue into 2020.

“Child protection, to me, means standing up and intervening to ensure the fundamental care and human rights of our community’s most vulnerable people are being respected and enacted.

I believe that this is the most basic and important role bestowed on police, and I personally find it incredibly rewarding.

Leading Sargent Peter Bullock, Central Goldfields Proactive Policing Unit


Artists, community groups and library staff explored and created stories together, about our community; its characters, places, history, and possible future. The Story Seats project incorporated Go Goldfields art, literacy and communication areas; where unpainted bespoke public bench seats were manufactured and offered to community groups to embellish with stories.

These highly visible, functional and accessible community artworks build upon previous Go Goldfields arts projects, such as Vases n’ Verses and Imagination Stations. The twelve seats are artworks in their own right, as well as being practical sculptural objects. The seats will be revealed within the Shire, and form part of a tourism trail, in 2019.


In 2018, we supported training in Early Language and Literacy as part of an important delivery partnership with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation.

“98% of children participating in the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation program improved their phonemic awareness.” – Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation

This initiative enabled vital skills enhancement within our community, to deliver foundational language and literacy development to children. Over 90 educators, parents and community members have successfully completed the course.

“I’ve learned more from this course about children’s literacy than I learned in my entire education degree.” – Course participant, Primary school teacher

“Just having this program available for our staff, has made a huge difference for our kids.” – Course Advocate, Primary school Principal.

The sustained presence of training by the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation is resulting in outstanding outcomes for children. The success of the program has led to the expansion of the Beckworth Special Needs Campus at the Maryborough Education Centre, the Supported Playgroup and Maryborough Regional Library. 

We are proud of our achievements to build the shared aspirations for early language development in the Central Goldfields community and have committed to continuing our support of the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.


16 Days of Activism is a campaign to end violence against women and girls around the world. Led by the Go Goldfields Family Violence Action Group, it is part of an international campaign coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership. It takes place every year and is run by over 6,000 organisations in 187 countries.

Community events in Maryborough actively engaged the community in conversations about the role of gender equality in addressing violence against women.  Understanding the role of gender equality is an essential pillar of the Go Goldfields Family Violence Action Plan. 

Community members showed their support by celebrating the Marigold Story Seat launch and ‘walking-the-walk’, a community walk around Phillips Gardens to view the shire’s Marigold and White Ribbon gardens, as well as the Marigold Seat, which Central Goldfields Shire chief administrator Noel Harvey said got people talking.

Hosted at the Maryborough Resource Centre, messages of support and hope for people dealing with family violence were displayed, as well as the ‘Little People, Big Voices’ project. Children decorated little bears to represent their rights and agency and to highlight that children are often the silent victims of family violence.

“Children’s experiences need to be seen, and their voices heard and listened to.” – Robyn Trainor, Centre for Non-Violence.

Go Goldfields Family Violence Action Group will continue to bring together the community to deliver campaigns raising awareness of the role of gender equality in addressing violence against women.  

THE MARIGOLDS PROJECT – 16 Days of Activism (2018)

The Women and Leadership Working Group have undertaken the ‘Marigolds Project’ over the past two years, culminating in a community display and key messaging about family violence to represent women’s lived experience and create a public display in the community within the 16 Days of Activism.

Marigolds were chosen by the Expert Reference Group as a powerful symbol of hope, support and respect and orange as the global colour, to be represented within the 16 days of Activism.  Marigolds were created by women through felting workshops and other arts activities within the community and Marigolds have been displayed in businesses and shop windows throughout the 16 days.

This project aimed to amplify our community’s voices to motivate change and to contribute to a future free from violence.

ROCK UP FOR RESPECT AND GENDER EQUITY – 16 Days of Activism (2018)

The ‘Rock Up for Respect and Gender Equity’ was the Maryborough netball association activity as part of the 16 Days of Activism activities. Many local sportspeople participated. Orange themed bibs and awards were presented by Garry Higgins (Rotary), Pauline Bolch (LCCLC) and Robyn Trainor (CNV).


In preparing for a Shire-wide literacy strategy, 255 interviews were held in 2018 to contribute to the Central Goldfields Literacy Strategy Consultation. These interviews were held in schools, libraries, street curbs, and kitchen tables. Our vision is that everyone gains high-level language and literacy skills. When a community achieves these skills, opportunities abound and collective impact strengthens. The Central Goldfields Literacy Strategy will be launched in 2019.

“Arts and literacy initiatives are a part of the innovative approach to addressing issues across each focus work area.” – Sandra Hamilton, (previous) Manager Social Inclusion Go Goldfields


The Short Flix Festival, funded and coordinated by Go Goldfields, was an intensive four-month creative film making experience undertaken by ten young people in Central Goldfields Shire in 2018.

Working under the expert guidance and mentorship of professional filmmakers, young people created their own short films.  Nine short films were presented at a gala red carpet event.

Although short, the films relied on the ability of the young people to realise a vision and get locals as well as family and friends on board with their project. This included cast, supplied materials and costumes, transport, storage, and all the behind-the-scenes support that is needed to create a film.

Short Flix successfully delivered mentoring based learning, instilled self-directed work planning, and encouraged young people to take up leadership roles.  Several program participants have also been inspired to pursue careers in the creative industries.

The Short Flix project engaged 10 local young people and resulted in 370 people attending film showings over 3 days, with 40+ young people and community members involved in making and presenting the films.


Maryborough Education Centre works with local employers as part of the school Careers Program.

Each year career activities are held at the school. In 2018 Employers took part by meeting students, providing mock interviews and offering feedback and mentoring. Businesses had the opportunity to work directly with young people to provide opportunities to experience real-life interviews and meet with real employers. 

One of the key employers involved in 2018 was Windsor Main, Site Manager at Edlyn Foods.  This is how he took part in the program, in his words.

“Last year I received a high number of resumes from young people looking for work after finishing school.  There were skill gaps in these young people’s resume writing abilities.  So when I was invited, along with other local businesses, to get involved with the Maryborough Education Centre (and their Careers Program), I was happy to provide my time in a hope to close this gap.  We were asked to assist young people with resume writing and mock interviews. There was one young person, in particular, a fantastic individual, who came from a family that was struggling. He was doing a lot of volunteering and odd jobs – he was a standout.  But at school, he did not present like this.  He received positive feedback from us, which was so different from the feedback he had been getting at school.  As a result of 15 businesses, 25 services, and young people getting together we created more opportunities for work experience and mentoring.” 

Between 50 and 60 local employers provided work experience and structured work placements for secondary students from Maryborough Education Centre (MEC) in 2018.  Around 100 students undertook work experience placements in 2018, thanks to the generosity of local employers and the hard work of the Careers team at MEC.


The Service Development Working Group conducted a forum at the MDHS Wellness Centre in 2017 for members to better understand each other’s work and the relationships between our work. 

Further forums have occurred through Rotary and the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre that have also contributed to building knowledge and understanding for service providers and the community. 

The initial forum in 2017 was for members of the group, to build the collective knowledge and better understand how we might work together to improve the service responses.  The forum included a session on dispelling myths about drivers of family violence and growing awareness of the impact on individuals and families of family violence.   The forum was developed by the members of the group and presentations came from some of those members, including the Police, ChildFIRST (Anglicare), Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and the Centre for Non-Violence. 

In 2018 100 employers, community members and service providers attended the Maryborough Family Violence Forum to learn more about the complexities of family violence in rural and regional Victoria. This event aimed to increase awareness of the gender-driver of family violence. It was a collaborative initiative between Maryborough Rotary and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, with funding support from Go Goldfields and the Centre for Non-Violence.

The keynote speaker was Mary Barry, the former chief executive officer of Our Watch, a national violence prevention organisation.  Barry addressed the drivers of family violence and sited that the core of the issue is gender inequality. This strong collaboration between community and services will continue to lead the Family Violence action plan in 2019.

“Collaboration is the way all of us can understand and address family violence, but the core is for women to be treated equally and respectfully and that their expertise is valued and sought.” – Garry Higgins OAM, Maryborough Rotary 


Goldfields Schools Cluster is currently developing a community-wide response to increasing school attendance rates. The group is actively seeking funding to progress work to develop a marketing and communications strategy incorporating key messages for consistent delivery across the whole of the community.

A component of the work will involve interviews with teachers, parents and community members, providing the Goldfields Schools Cluster with a clear understanding of the challenges and barriers facing parents and students, preventing good attendance practices.

This project connects to the Children and Families impact area objective: Children and Families Actively Engage and Participate in Maternal child Health, Playgroup, Kindergarten and School.


The Early Years Expo held in 2020 was once again successful.  Many Early Years Services and organisations provided activities and resources within the community provided free resources and hosted activities to over 100 children and their families.

This project connects to the priority area objective: Actively Engage and Participate in Maternal child Health, Playgroup, Kindergarten and School.

TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC (2018 – 2019)

National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) week provided an opportunity for ‘Hugs and Cuddles’ our message bears to continue their work spreading the word ‘All children deserve to be Loved and Safe’.  The event was held during September 2018.

In recognition of the importance of NAPCAN week, Children and their families gathered together at the Station Domain Playground for a Teddy Bears’ picnic celebrating positive family relationships and connections with others.  Over 100 children and their parents enjoyed the activity, which showcased to parents how stress-free it can be to come together when using existing infrastructure.


Professional learning with the Berry Street Institute in April and June of 2018 provided 30 community members and professionals opportunity to better understand and cater for trauma-affected children and families.  The training was provided over four days.  Attendees were provided with a suite of resources to be used across a number of scenarios.  Participants have since reported the training has influenced their personal practice when working with children, youth and adults.

Maryborough Education Centre highlighted the need for educators to understand the impact of trauma on children and as such led the way with providing training to over 170 Educators throughout 2017.


In November 2017, the Children and Families partnership led a community-wide awareness campaign about the importance of all children feeling loved and safe.  The campaign involved spreading a new loved and safe message every day during the month of November, using our message bears – Hugs and Cuddles.  Hugs and Cuddles provided families with ideas about enjoying time with their children.

Messaging was based on ARACY’s Nest Agenda, ‘being loved and safe embraces positive family relationships and connections with others, along with personal and community safety’.

Planning for the campaign commenced in June 2017 with a small working group with representatives from Maryborough Education Centre, Salvation Army, Maryborough District Health Service and Facilitators from Best Start and Go Goldfields.

Building the capacity of the broader group of professionals and not only those in a classroom setting has strengthened the understanding of the need to target and support prevention strategies across the community, in particular Family Violence.

Go Goldfields News

In my previous blog, I wrote about this year being a year of possibilities, an acknowledgement to the extensive review
The Go Goldfields 2020 Data Pack, made up of four Data Dashboards plus context information, is here. We are proud
The Go Goldfields Year in Review 2019 is now available for viewing and sharing. We hope you enjoy this snap
%d bloggers like this: