Early Years Initiative

A partnership between the State Government and the Minderoo Foundation to work differently with communities to improve the development, health and learning of children from conception to four years, and to create lasting change.

The unprecedented 10-year partnership will bring together community leaders, government, researchers, business and philanthropic organisations to achieve better outcomes for Western Australian children and families.

The Initiative will see the State Government join with the Minderoo Foundation to work with four Western Australian partner communities. Telethon Kids Institute is the Initiative's evidence partner.

One in five children aged four years and under in Western Australia is considered developmentally vulnerable, as measured by the Australian Early Development Census. This is in the crucial areas of health and well-being, social competence, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge, and emotional maturity.

The Initiative will empower and support communities to assess the needs of children and families and identify what works best to help their children to thrive, based on evidence and research.

Community selection

The Initiative will work with four partner communities from metropolitan, remote and very remote Western Australia.

The Central Great Southern shires of Katanning, Broomehill-Tambellup, Kojonup and Gnowangerup was the first community to join the Initiative.

In addition to the Central Great Southern, the Early Years Initiative is now being implemented in Armadale West.

Discussions are currently underway to expand the program to two other communities.

How do I find out more?

More information about the Initiative is available through Frequently Asked Questions.

Early Years Initiative Board

The Initiative Board is made up of representatives from the State Government, Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids Institute, with an independent chair and an independent deputy chair. Below is more information about the members.

Ms Sue Ash AO, Chair

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Sue Ash brings her significant experience as a Director, Senior Public Servant and Chief Executive Officer of community and human service organisations to the EYI Board. Sue joined the Board of Baptistcare in November 2017 after retiring in July 2017 from her role as Chief Executive of UnitingCare West.

Sue has worked in NSW, ACT and most parts of Western Australia and has strong connections with local, national and international networks. Sue’s work has been with a range of family and children’s organisations as well as indigenous and multi-cultural communities.

Sue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to community and public policy in June 2014.

Dr Sue Gordon AM, Deputy Chair

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Dr Sue Gordon is a board member of The Graham Polly Farmer Foundation and served as its President from 2016 to 2018.

Sue has achieved many 'firsts' during her career: first Aboriginal person to head a government department in Western Australia as Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning; first Aboriginal magistrate in WA; and first full-time children's court magistrate (from 1988 to 2008). Sue was also Chairperson of the ‘Gordon Inquiry’ (2002); Chairperson of the ‘Northern Territory Emergency Response’ (2007-2008), and one of five commissioners appointed to the first board of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

She was made a member of the Order of Australian (AM) in June 1993 in recognition of service to Aboriginal people and to the community.

Mr Colin Pettit

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Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit has spent his career working with children and young people in the education sector across Western Australia and Tasmania in teaching, administration and executive roles. A commitment to improving the wellbeing of children and young people is a hallmark of his career.

Colin was appointed Commissioner in November 2015 and has a statutory responsibility to monitor, protect and advocate for the wellbeing of the more than 585,000 children and young people under the age of 18 in Western Australia.

Mr Jay Weatherill AO

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Jay Weatherill is the CEO of Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative, where he is responsible for delivering Minderoo’s early childhood agenda. Jay was Premier of South Australia for six and a half years and Minister for 16 years in portfolios including Early Childhood. He holds Law and Economics degrees from the University of Adelaide. He is an Industry Professor at the University of South Australia, an Ambassador for Reggio Children and on the governance board for Great to Eight early childhood research project.

Jay was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in January 2021 for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of South Australia, particularly as Premier, and to early childhood and tertiary education.

Mr Juan Larranaga

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Juan Larranaga is the Policy and Portfolio Manager at the Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five portfolio, overseeing Minderoo's significant investments in the Early Years and relationships with sector and research partners including the Western Australia Government.

Juan has extensive experience in the not for profit sector focused on leading strategic innovative place-based community led solutions in Australia and for his humanitarian emergency leadership overseas responding to natural disasters. Juan holds a Masters in Public Health from the Menzies School of Health Research, a Graduate Diploma in Humanitarian Leadership from Deakin University and Bachelor of Journalism.

Mr Jeff Moffet

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Jeff Moffet is the Chief Executive of the WA Country Health Service and has worked in rural and remote healthcare management over many years. He leads the largest country health service in Australia, delivering hospital and community health services to more than half a million people in over 200 sites, including hospitals, health centres, nursing posts and remote clinics.

Prior to joining WACHS, Jeff was the Chief Executive of the Northern Territory Department of Health, providing leadership across the NT Health system and with national policy development through his membership of a range of key national bodies.

Ms Michelle Andrews

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Michelle Andrews is the Director General of the Department of Communities. An environmental scientist with 30 years’ experience in the public sector, Michelle previously led the Policy and Reform Division in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and headed the secretariat supporting the State Government’s Service Priority Review, a wide-ranging independent review that recommended a blueprint for reform of the public sector.

Michelle has served as Deputy Chair of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and was previously on the board of the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute and the council of the Institute of Public Administration Australia WA.

Ms Lisa Rodgers

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Lisa Rodgers is a powerful voice and respected advocate in education. She is an experienced executive, having provided exemplary service for the profession, governments and the public in various jurisdictions including the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Prior to joining the Department of Education, Lisa was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement and Deputy Secretary, Evidence, Data and Knowledge in the Ministry of Education in New Zealand. With over 16 years of experience in education, Lisa has led significant reforms in assessment innovation, curriculum and the use of evidence for impact at the classroom and national level.

Lisa has an Honours Degree in Psychology and has held several other substantial posts in Justice, Health and Defence.

Lisa is passionate about the profession and is dedicated to improved educational outcomes for young people.

Page reviewed 11 June 2021