An hour outside of the Brisbane CBD in the picturesque Lockyer Valley region is the rural town of Laidley. Back in March, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff enjoyed an early morning drive to visit the Laidley Community Centre (LCC), which has been in funding since 2019.
Despite its relative proximity to metropolitan centres, Laidley’s population experiences significant socio-economic disadvantage, placing it in the lowest 5% when compared with the national average (SEIFA). Various factors influence this: high elderly and youth populations, lower than average median household income, greater number of single-occupant households, twice the average youth unemployment rate, and lack of sufficient public transport to reach employment.
Incorporated in 1988, Laidley Community Centre is a crucial pillar of this resilient community, providing support to people working through financial, housing, natural disaster or domestic crises, while also assisting residents to develop their potential to make a difference in their own lives, families, workplaces and communities. LCC works to achieve this through a varied and comprehensive service offering, including a neighbourhood centre, emergency, natural disaster and food relief, social enterprise café Community Grounds, Centrelink and tax assistance, and children’s and parents’ programs. Its impact extends far beyond the immediate township, reaching people from Plainland, Forest Hill, Grandchester and Mulgowie.
The purpose of TFFF’s visit was to see LCC’s flagship Early Connections Project (ECP) in action, and meet some of the young families involved. The Early Connections Project grew from an increasing need to better support children under five years old who are experiencing developmental or social challenges. It’s the driver for increased coordination across local programs and partners to support parents and carers to give children the best start in life, from pregnancy through to commencing school. Communal efforts like ECP enable early identification of vulnerable children — the first vital step in connecting them and their families with required supports. Early assistance is also the best strategy to enable longer term outcomes that break the cycle of disadvantage, like overall positive engagement with the education system.
Janella Cox has been LCC’s Early Childhood Worker for several years now and has delivered an extensive list of achievements together with Centre Manager Alana Wahl and volunteers. TFFF was fortunate to participate in a session of the weekly facilitated Under 5’s Playgroup, with a focus on parental engagement.
We were proud to host the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation last week as they met with us to discuss the impacts and strategies of our Early Connections Project. The TFFF has generously been funding this program for the past four years and enabling us to make an impact on the youngest members of our community and their parents. This project strives to ensure local families are connected, and able to link into any needed support at the earliest opportunity so that children have the best chance at positive outcomes once they start school (and beyond!). We are so grateful to the TFFF and wanted to take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the community.— Alana Wahl
Feature photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.
Thank you to LCC’s Manager Alana Wahl, Chair Adrian Shepley and ECP Coordinator Janella Cox for the invitation to visit and for your warm country hospitality.
Laidley Community Centre is funded through the Resilience stream.