Latrobe Valley students ready to thrive

Gippsland organisations unite to support primary schools in the Latrobe Valley engage their most disadvantaged students.

A community-funded project supporting vulnerable students at Stockdale Road Primary School to engage in their education and thrive is expanding across the Latrobe Valley after securing support from the Latrobe Health Assembly and AGL Loy Yang.

Since 2020, The Little Village Project has helped students overcome barriers preventing them from participating in their education by providing practical, timely interventions and responses to health concerns.

Now thanks to a three-year financial commitment from the Assembly and AGL Loy Yang and ongoing support from the project’s auspice organisation, Kindred Spirits Enterprises, more young children and families across primary schools in the Valley are set to benefit.

“The Little Village Project’s a safety net catching students who would otherwise fall through the existing services’ gaps. It helps school staff feel less helpless when faced with complex issues impacting their students and families,” project founder and Stockdale Road PS Wellbeing Support Officer Ben Tunks said.

“It’s allowed us to fund a broad set of identified needs, such as neuropsychological assessments, speech and occupational therapy assessments. We’ve also funded items needed for learning and participation in the school community, such as glasses and footwear. The broad funding scope is purposeful as the smallest sum can produce a significant outcome.”

Mr Tunks credited the project’s success to generous local businesses and community members dedicated to seeing children in the Latrobe Valley engage in their education and succeed into adulthood.

“The Assembly is proud to support the work of The Little Village Project and enable it to expand its reach into supporting more children and their families to participate in learning opportunities,” Latrobe Health Assembly Chair Tanya Rong said.

“We have a strong focus on Early Childhood Development at the Health Assembly and recognise the importance of supporting children from a young age to reach their full potential.”

AGL Loy Yang General Manager Christo van Niekerk said the company had committed to being involved in community projects and initiatives focused on supporting Latrobe Valley kids.

“We don’t want Latrobe Valley kids to miss out. We believe in early intervention, and we want families and schools in the Valley to receive the support they need to raise happy and healthy children,” Mr van Niekerk said.

“No child should be falling through the gaps, no matter how complex the issue. We are grateful for locally developed projects like the Little Village and it’s one of the reasons why we’re onboard as a partner. It’s about investing in our children, their future and the future of the Latrobe Valley.”

Kindred Spirits Enterprises Executive Officer Shaun Mallia said the organisation was excited to partner with the Latrobe Health Assembly and AGL Loy Yang.

“Without intervention and appropriate support, many of these children will be at a greater risk of disengaging from school and are more likely to experience poorer outcomes in areas including health, wellbeing, employment, and community engagement as they become adults,” Mr Mallia said.

“Our organisations are committed to working with primary schools to help them engage their most disadvantaged students and support them to thrive.”

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