Community connections

Community connections
Jack Hayes

Gowrie Victoria has a strong belief that children should be active citizens in the community, to help broaden their sense of belonging and self-empowerment. After two years of lockdowns, children from Carlton Learning Precinct are starting to explore the city once more.

The sight of children from Gowrie Victoria exploring the Carlton community is a familiar one. An extensive Out & About program has always been an integral part of Gowrie’s practice, especially at Carlton Learning Precinct, where there are regular trips to the neighbouring primary school, local parks and even cafes.

Carlton Learning Precinct educational leader Liz Ong said there was still some hesitancy about being out in the community as the city slowly re-opened after extensive lockdowns. “Everyone is quite cautious about getting out and about, so it has been a matter of taking small steps,” she said.

The service started with visits to the neighbouring primary school and their own bush classroom.

“As the children grew more confident and settled, a new element was added into the mix, such as having the primary school children read to them,” Liz said.

“This meant the children had to navigate relationships beyond their circle of security and engage in their social capacity, on top of visiting a new place.”

The next step was walks in the community and connecting with children at Gowrie Carlton North by meeting halfway for babyccinos.

“During this time, educators noticed how much children’s confidence and curiosity in the world around them grew, each time being brave and taking those few more steps into the world,” Liz said.

A tram ride to CERES Community Environment Park, followed by a visit to the Melbourne Museum are also on the agenda.

“And we have big plans to visit a nursery to buy some native plants as we are in the process of renaming each of our rooms after a particular plant,” Liz said.

As part of Gowrie’s Out & About program, these excursions provide extensive learning opportunities for children.

“They involve catching a tram, so we will need to look at things like Myki cards and public transport etiquette,” Liz said. “Exploring things like crossing the road, catching public transport, being cautious around other people: This is building life skills for children.”

Liz said it was important for children to begin connecting with the world again.

“We need to show the children that it’s not so scary to open up our lives once more. We need to be cautious, but if we take small steps, we will be able to find our sense of belonging in the world again.”

Gowrie Carlton Learning Precinct currently has places available for three- and four-year-olds. 

For more information, call 1300 446 974 or visit

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