Joanne Tarasuik


Dr Joanne Tarasuik is the Research Officer at Playgroup Victoria. Her role is to illustrate that playgroups aren’t just for fun; create credibility for playgroups with stakeholders and policy makers. She also translates research into practical advice for playgroups, researches the playgroup platform, and informs evaluative processes.


The playgroup platform can engage communities, bringing young children and their parents together in a developmentally stimulating environment that promotes the wellbeing of both children and parents.
An inclusive and welcoming environment, playgroup provides a place where parents of young children can converse and create connections thus preventing isolation, and parents can observe and learn from each other. These outcomes can be of even greater value in rural communities with geographically dispersed homes and limited early education services.
Playgroup attendance has been associated with lower rates of vulnerability at school entry (AEDC), with the strongest association amongst more disadvantaged cohorts (Gregory et al., 2016). Rates of vulnerability at school entry are higher in regional areas than major cities and vulnerability in remote areas is more than double that of major cities (DET (Cth), 2016). Furthermore, vulnerability is higher amongst children of SES disadvantage (DET (Cth), 2016), and SES disadvantage (SEIFA IRSAD) is greater across regional and very remote areas (Pink, 2013). Furthermore preschool attendance is also lower amongst more SES disadvantaged children, and in remote areas (O’Connor et al., 2016), and playgroup can promote the importance of early learning.
Playgroup Victoria projects across country Victoria such as the Connecting Rural Families Locally pilot project and the Wimmera Transitional Playgroup project demonstrate how playgroups can be a community solution, engaging families with young children.
In this presentation we will discuss the role of playgroups in rural community engagement and the prevention of developmental vulnerability at school entry and isolation.
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