Fiona May

Biography

Fiona May is CEO of Playgroup Australia, the peak body for state and territory playgroup organisations, a position she has held since July 2018. Fiona has extensive experience as a leader in the community sector both as a CEO and as a Board director. In 2018, Fiona was awarded the ACT Not-for-profit Leader of the Year by the Institute of Managers and Leaders and also received the ACT Chief Ministers award for Championing Human Rights.

Abstract

Playgroups, making a difference in the first 1000 days. (Oral Paper Presentation)

Research evidence for the value of playgroup to children and family outcomes is growing. Children who attend playgroups have been found to perform better on all AECD domains and are more ready for school. Attending playgroup is also associated with stronger social networks and peer support benefits for parents in the early years. The peer support potential of playgroups can reduce isolation and the impact of depression, provide parenting role modelling, connect families to local services and provide a platform for referrals to community/government services. A recent RMIT Centre for Urban Research study found that Community Playgroups have enormous social/economic benefits for children but also for their parents and carers. Our playgroup model has been found to have positive benefits for disadvantaged families. The LSAC research project by Hancock et. al. demonstrated that, for disadvantaged families, prolonged playgroup attendance was associated with strong outcomes for children and mothers. This presentation provides a brief overview of the diversity of research into the role and value of playgroup across three themes: outcomes for children, outcomes for parents and families and outcomes for community and society. Forthcoming research on the developmental, social and economic value of play and playgroup will also be explored.

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