Community partners for success: Achievement Program in action at Leitchville Preschool

Tuesday 5 December, 2023

 Leitchville Preschool was recently fully awarded under the Achievement Program, after signing up in 2013. (L-R) Achievement Program’s Head of Healthy Places Dimity Gannon, Gannawarra Shire councillor Keith Link, and Leitchville Preschool Educational Leader Kim Mason.


Leitchville Preschool has been fully awarded under the Achievement Program, making it the first early education facility in northern Victoria’s rural Gannawarra Shire to complete all six health priority areas.


After joining the program in 2013, the Preschool completed their final health priority area in August 2023, and was recognised for its progress in a ceremony on October 12.  


With the support of Narelle O’Donoghue, Gannawarra Shire Council’s Manager of Community Health, Northern District Community Health’s health promotion team and Gannawarra Shire Council’s Manager of Children Services, the preschool developed new policies and initiatives including:

  • A successful bush kinder program
  • A “Drop Park Walk” Active Travel route
  • Improved indoor-outdoor play areas and facilities
  • Implementing the Child Safe Standards and the Kids Foundation See More Safety program
  • Incorporating more community-based active excursions
  • Using the Smiling Minds and yoga programs to support mindfulness
  • Incorporating a “Gundja” - an Aboriginal hut constructed from natural materials to increase understanding and connection to Indigenous ways of knowing and doing
  • Constructing a bike track and mud kitchen in the yard
  • Implementing the FLOW program to assist inclusion of children with a disability

They have also maintained their ongoing SunSmart membership and their Smiles4Miles award; these embed healthy eating, oral health, and sun protection practices within the service.


“We have found that through our involvement with the Achievement Program, families and children are more engaged. They put forward ideas and share their skills with others,” Leitchville Preschool Educational Leader Kim Mason said.

“Recognition under the Achievement Program commits us to continue with its message and reaching the goal of providing a service that promotes safety, health and wellbeing for children, their families, educators, and the wider community.”


Educators don’t have to miss out either; they have participated in multiple professional development opportunities including safety, child trauma, and mental wellbeing programs.


The Preschool has also found partnerships with the wider community, such as the library, health service, and local emergency services like VicPolice and CFA, have been especially beneficial to their activities and goals, both within and outside the program.


“Educators at Leitchville Preschool have been completely dedicated to supporting every child to have a great start to life. It is fabulous to have this dedication recognised through achieving recognition in all six health priority areas of the Early Childhood Achievement Program,” Narelle O’Donoghue said.


Since their involvement, they have found supporting a safe culture and respectful relationships where children actively participate in decision making and conversations helps empower them.


They have also seen better child and family engagement, sharing skills and ideas, as well as children frequently demonstrating kindness and consideration.


Paul Fernee, Director of Community Wellbeing at Gannawarra Shire Council, explained the benefits flow on to the wider community and leave a lifelong impact on the children.


“Leitchville Preschool has become a regional leader and a demonstration of the positive influence an early childhood service can have on the life-long outcomes of children, families, and the wider community,” he said.


Gannawarra Shire Council, Leitchville Preschool's educational staff, and the wider community have all seen the Achievement Program’s benefits and are dedicated to ongoing success for future benefit of all children in their care.