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South West Early Childhood Project

South West Early Childhood Project was an exploratory study of three South West towns to gain insight that may assist the Department of Sport and Recreation WA (DSR) in decision-making related to an emerging focus on early childhood activity.

This project formed a critical response to Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) results released in 2012 which highlighted specific worries in certain areas of the South West, showing several communities are well above State and National average for being at risk in key development areas, notably physical and social.

The project undertook formative research that expanded the statistics derived from the AEDI report and answered the question: ‘why certain communities performed well whilst others didn’t’, with specific focus on the physical and emotional areas of development.

The research found that each town, while providing a sound level of engagement, activity and infrastructure for young children, was characterised by different strengths and challenges, levels of community engagement and wants and needs. Discernible was the overall concern and passion for the health, wellbeing and developmental needs of young children.

This project tested a Rapid Rural Appraisal methodology which enabled rapid data collection and insights, forming the basis for further and more in-depth investigation. This pilot has shown the approach has the potential to be applied to more regional communities in relation to the Early Years, or be used to examine different contexts or communities of interest.

Principal Areas of Enquiry:

Structural Adjustments and Changing Demographics

Secondary Areas of Enquiry:

Aboriginal Perspectives
Climate Change and Water
Management and Technology

Lead Researchers:

Dr Amma Buckley - Humanities Research and Graduate Studies, Curtin University
Professor Marian Tye - Centre for Sport and Recreation Research
Troy Jones - Department of Sport and Recreation WA

Research Team:

Gaylene Galardi, Dr Stefania Giamminuti, Sonia Kuzich, Jane Merewether

Industry Collaborators

Recreation Centres and Local Government Authorities in Bridgetown, Harvey and Donnybrook.

Industry Partners

Department of Sport and Recreation WA

Project Collection


Spaces to Play, Places to Meet: Welcoming Young Children in Regional Western Australian Towns

Narratives of Childhood in Regional Western Australian Towns: A Trajectory of Hope and Collective Wisdom for Landmark Reforms

South West Early Childhood Project: An Exploratory Study of Three South West Towns