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Forging stronger links with Kingston City Council

October 9, 2018

Emerge and Kingston City Council have embarked on a new partnership in 2018, and one which has potential to break new ground in Victoria in supporting children about to start kindergarten or in early years of primary school.

Little Sparkz to Bright Minds builds on a successful pilot program run by Emerge for infants to 36 months which highlighted the need for something similar for four to seven-year-old children.

What sets the program apart is the use of “Matlda” robots that have been programmed with data relevant to each individual child’s culture and learning ability. The robots will ‘work’ alongside therapists and teachers to keep children occupied while one-one-one counselling occurs.

The robots have been developed by Professor Rhajiv Khosla, Director of the Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation at La Trobe University.

The program will be facilitated by therapists and child case workers who are experienced in addressing psychological problems that many traumatised children face. For instance, some children may speak slowly or not all, while some cannot comprehend what is being said, read or conveyed. These children are often in need of extra support and may lack initiative and confidence.

The program will be available to children from refuges, foster care and to children identified by Maternal Child Health Centres, Child Care Centres and schools.

This early intervention program aligns and links with Kingston City Council’s Family Violence strategy and the Victorian Government’s Family Safety Victoria outcomes. It is hoped that this pilot program will be rolled out to other regions.

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