Shepparton welcomes Kerry Arabena

By Madeleine Byron

Encompassed in the work of Communities for Children, the local collaboration called One Village welcomed indigenous businesswomen Kerry Arabena and more than 100 guests to The Woolshed at Emerald Bank yesterday.

Presenting her work with the First 1000 Days Australia initiative, Ms Arabena shared her experience in the field of early years development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Keen to bring her knowledge to Shepparton, Ms Arabena said she was excited to take part in the Cultural Practice Series.

‘‘The energy that has already begun here in the Greater Shepparton region with the One Village collaboration has already set the foundations right for what our kids need,’’ she said.

‘‘What I like about the Goulburn Valley is that there is so much momentum to do good things for our families and this is just another way of being able to interpret what can be done and how it can be done.’’

Ms Arabena said it was a good thing for people to reflect on business decisions and policies put in place to support children within the Goulburn Valley.

Communities for children project officer Jessie Barnes-Hill said the purpose of the collaboration was to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in universal services such as antenatal care, maternal child health, playgroups, kinder and primary schools — contributing towards closing the gap.

‘‘The collaboration comprises of antenatal, early years development and education-focused organisations across the Greater Shepparton region, all of which have made a commitment to actively work together to achieve the aims and objectives,’’ Ms Barnes-Hill said.

She said a main aim of the collaboration was building wider cultural knowledge, understanding, safety, approaches and inclusiveness.

‘‘We like to facilitate professional development and training opportunities for not only the collaboration but for the wider community and having Kerry Arabena here has been a wonderful influence for our community.’’

Members of the One Village collaboration include Lulla’s Children and Family Centre, Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative, Save the Children, FamilyCare, The Bridge Youth Service, Department of Education and Training, Department of Health and Human Services, Goulburn Valley Health and Greater Shepparton City Council.