By Five Wimmera Southern Mallee Early Years Initiative

By Five Innovation and Equity Hub
2022-2025 Strategic Direction

The Wimmera Southern Mallee By Five Early Years Initiative was initiated by the Wimmera Southern Mallee regional Partnership; sponsored by Premier Daniel Andrews; funded by the Department of Education and Training and supported by Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

The By Five Early Years Initiative is a clear example of the 'critical hope'
that can be ignited through place-led change.
The By Five Strategic Plan 2022-2025 outlines the plan to improve the Australian Early Development Census outcomes of children in the Wimmera Southern Mallee.

We are working with Early Years services, communities and families of the Wimmera Southern Mallee to enable the following priorities;

1. Equitable access to Early Years services.
2. High quality care for all families in the WSM.
3. The building of an environment to enable confident and connected families to engage and participate in Early Years services across the WSM.
4. Enabling community environments to be supportive of all families in the Wimmera Southern Mallee.

To have your own copy of the Strategic Plan. Please download the below pdf.

Childcare in the Wimmera Southern Mallee
Understanding the Story

By Five has collected data about centre based long day care demand and availability across the five Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the WSM. The focus of this work has been to understand childcare across the regions, and what actions are required to ensure children and families can access childcare. 

 Childcare in the Wimmera Southern Mallee Understanding the Story

By Five The Early Years

By Five is a place based early childhood project, initiated in 2016 by the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) Regional Partnership and the local community who recognised the opportunity to act early to improve outcomes for children. The project has been funded since 2018.

From 2018-2021, place based clusters across the WSM have been working together on 3 priorities: 
  • access and availability;
  • capacity and capability; and
  • attraction and retention.
By Five won concurrent Victorian Early Years Awards, in 2019 for Continuity of Early Learning and in 2020 for Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships. A report on the Specialist Paediatric Support Partnership project details the award winning innovative collaboration.


An evaluation report documents the changes influenced through By Five from 2018-2020, and the extent to which these changes represent progress towards By Five's aim of improving child outcomes by the time children start school.

A show case of the By Five place-based cluster projects was held in February 2021. Emma Vogel, Independent Chair of By Five said,

"By Five demonstrated how a small, well targeted investment from government can unlock an enormous sleeping giant.... the power of people in local communities to identify and resolve their own issues."

The contribution of the local working groups was highlighted in Grassroots. 

Click on the links to view the showcased projects: Yarriambiack; Northern Grampians; Horsham; West Wimmera; Hindmarsh; Rainbow & Jeparit; Donald; and Birchip.

Click on the YouTube image to learn more on the By Five project. 

By Five WSM Early Years Initiative 2021-2025

From 2021, By Five represents an innovative partnership between the WSM community, the Wimmera Development Association, the WSM Regional Partnership, the Centre for Community Children Health (CCCH) at The Royal Children's Hospital and the Murdoch Children's Research.

In May 2021, the Victorian Government announced funding over four years to build on the foundational work of By Five; transition to a community facilitated project; and further leverage the partnership with CCCH to catalyse and accelerate change and provide learnings that can be applied in other regions of rural Victoria.
Two key initiatives of By Five in 2021-22 include:     

  • Strengthening Care for Children Wimmera Southern Mallee (SC4C@WSM), is a key initiative of the By Five Innovation and Equity Hub. SC4C@WSM establishes partnerships between paediatric specialists, local professionals and families to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people. . 
  • Understanding what is needed to ensure early education and care are available in sufficient quality and quantity to support child development and school readiness as well as to support family economic and social participation.

Key Messages of the By Five Initiative

  • The Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) is a diverse, vibrant region of Victoria, made up of several local communities.
  • The WSM is experiencing social and economic change, creating growing demand for a skilled and educated workforce.
  • WSM communities have strong social capital and families are engaged, inclusive, flexible and connected to place. Families stay or move to the WSM to experience the freedom of a regional lifestyle.

  • In some cases, children in the WSM do not receive services or get services of a lower quality than they are entitled to due to challenges in resourcing and staffing across these areas.
  • Addressing the barriers faced by families in the WSM through equitable, innovative, place-based interventions gives children and young people the best possible chance to thrive.

  • Local WSM professionals are experienced, knowledgeable and committed to better care for children and young people in their community. Working together in an integrated way can improve equity, access and quality of care for children and young people in their community.
  • Local WSM communities are rich in knowledge, expertise, resources and services. When practitioners and policymakers optimise these assets, there is great potential to strengthen community resilience and empowerment and enable services to be focused on prevention.

For more information

Strengthening Care for Children at Wimmera Southern Mallee (SC4C@WSM) Community Stories

Community Story Melanie Wade
Community Story Dr Kate Graham
Community Story Carly Nevill

SC4C@WSM templates and resources:

Strengthening Care for Children overview (2Mb PDF)

Wimmera Southern Mallee Professionals can download a SC4C@WSM referral form here:

For more information on By Five, visit:

You can also keep up to date with news and resources from By Five via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by subscribing to the By Five Newsletter.

Jo Martin
By Five
Executive Officer

Cara Miller
By Five

Paediatric Project
Project Manager

Sally Marcroft
By Five
Project Manager 

Emily Smith
By Five
Allied Health
Project Manager