Camp Australia began as a small business providing extra curricular activities in a few Melbourne schools in 1987. With an increasing demand and significant attendance growth, it became apparent there was an opportunity to offer a more formalised and structured OSHC program. In 1991 the organisation began offering Holiday Club programs which became very popular and created a niche in a very new market. With Holiday Clubs growing in size and popularity there was an expansion into OSHC, firstly in Victoria (1994), soon to follow was NSW (1999) and by 2013 it had a truly national footprint which included rural towns and communities that had never before had this opportunity.
Camp Australia’s recently created Vision, ‘To support all families in achieving their dreams’, has helped the organisation prioritise decisions and set strategic goals ensuring children and their families are at the heart of the organisation. Through enriching experiences in Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) and Holiday Clubs, children and families can feel supported in achieving their dreams and be secure in the knowledge that their children are always safe, continuously learning and having fun. There has been a conscious effort and focus on engaging the best people to support the delivery of its Vision and ensuring service excellence makes it the partner of choice to Schools nationally.
The CARE program is an evidence-based approach to supporting children with additional needs into the OSHC program and is focused on supporting our staff to be able to deliver the outcomes. Underpinning the CARE program is a robust set of processes supported by a team that connects Educators with the right Inclusion Professional. Through using a standardised rubric, staff are able to commence the Individual Child Assessment to initiate the process. Having a standardised process has meant that it is easier for all staff to engage in the program. Having an existing support team that also work as part of the CARE team has also created opportunities for children to get the inclusion support that they need – in areas where previously there was no visibility. With over 1100 Individual Child Assessments already completed, children are now receiving inclusion support from Melbourne through the Hills north east of Perth, through to Alice Springs and up to Far North Queensland.
On any given day Camp Australia cares for up to 45,000 children across 600 locations across mainland Australia in metropolitan, rural and remote communities. To deliver a consistent and well researched methodology, the CARE Program had to take into consideration not just easy-to-service metro areas, but our services in remote communities. With such a large footprint and with so many children in care, the challenges included being able to identify children with additional needs and how to best support them, support staff as well as working closely with their parents. This added significant complexity to developing a solution – requiring scalability without losing sight of each child’s individual needs.
Over 1800 Educators have completed the Resilient Mindset training and over 1500 Educators have completed the Autism awareness training. This training, being evidence based and developed in conjunction with industry experts was the real game changer in becoming Inclusion Ready.
Since the CARE program launched in May 2019, it has seen over 1100 families complete an Individual Child Assessment with nearly 400 also requiring a Strategic Inclusion Plan. A key output of this is that the organisation has over 430 Inclusion Support Educators working across 81 services each week. From a business perspective, this would be an additional financial burden. In working with the Inclusion Development fund, with nearly $900,000 in funding approved to support the inclusion of children in need – leading to improved social, emotional and academic outcomes. The research is clear – inclusive practice and early intervention combined with having access to Inclusion Professionals results in improved emotional and wellbeing outcomes for children in need.