Opening this research week A/Prof Rebekah Grace and Dr Kelly Baird presented on "Community support of families with young children during times of collective crisis". The presentation discussed the ways in which community members, often on a voluntary basis, mobilise to support families and young children during times of collective crisis. In recent times in Australia, communities have endured significant challenges, including as the result of fire, floods, drought and the Covid Pandemic. As devastating as these events are, they have also been shown to be potential catalysts for community mindedness and reaching out to those who are most vulnerable or isolated. This presentation will discuss the importance of community connection for families of young children, and examine how we might sustain the renewed commitment to supporting families and children experiencing adversity in the post-Covid world.
Dr Harry Shier and A/Prof Grace presented on the following day with "Research ON Children, ABOUT children, WITH children and BY children: Before and after the COVID factor".
The presentation explored the many evolving roles of children in research:
Learning from the experiences of child researchers in Nicaragua;
An analytical tool to help researchers develop partnerships with children and adolescents;
The COVID Factor: Further evolution of children's roles in researc.
On Thursday, Prof Virginia Schmied and Dr Catherine Kaplun presented: "Co-designing in times of change: Progressing the Sharing Parenting Stories and Love Project".
In the webinar, they drew on examples from the field to explore the concept of co-designing. Co-design is increasingly emphasised in service design and delivery but interpretations of the process and approach can vary greatly. A central goal of the Centre for Transforming early Education and Child Health (TeEACH) is to actively engage with families to meet their needs in the delivery of services and to ensure service usability. Co-design is typically a very interactive process and of course this has been challenging with COVID 19 restrictions. This webinar focuses on the experiences of continuing the Sharing Parenting Stories and Love project over the CV19 lockdown period. The Sharing Parenting Stories and Love project aims to support and strengthen vulnerable families by engaging a small group of South Asian mothers in designing activities to build connections and collaborations for all mothers. By coming together to share, listen, explore, design and experience, five mothers have developed a strong friendship and agency in the design of a program of activities that support their children’s health and development and will be used to improve outcomes for ‘new’ mothers and their children in their local community.
Friday, A/Prof Christine Woodrow ran a session exploring findings from a small study of early education responses in 2 states. The findings highlight the resilience of educators, children and families in adapting to difficult circumstances and underscore the importance of early education as a community resoure. A panel discussion of educators and a pictorial display occampanied the session.
Australia’s young children have recently been observers and participants of community disasters of unprecedented scale in living memory. With thousands of families across Australia directly impacted by a bushfire season of terrifying proportions and all Australian children experiencing life in a pandemic, early childhood education has faced significant challenges in adapting their curriculum and pedagogies to fit the circumstances, resulting in innovative practices and new learnings by parents and educators.