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Case Study: Save the Children Australia

ProjectChildren’s Wellbeing Initiative




Rural and regional Victoria Improving outcomes for children and youth in East Gippsland following compounding disasters of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
Reducing inequality Addressing the low developmental and educational outcomes for children and youth in East Gippsland through a collective and integrated approach.
Building organisational capacity Strengthening organisational capacity enables the CWI to continue operating and undertake a critical role in the response and recovery of the region following recent disasters.
Collaboration and partnership Uniting, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health, Victoria Police, East Gippsland Primary Care Partnership, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Department of Education and Training, East Gippsland Shire Council, and a further 80+ local community services provider organisations.

Changing the lives of children and young people in East Gippsland

The Children’s Wellbeing Initiative (CWI) is a community-led approach to improving the wellbeing of children and young people in East Gippsland. The last 18 months has seen the region face multiple natural disasters: on-going drought, unprecedented bushfires, followed by the pandemic and floods. These multiple disasters have significant impact on families, children and young people, further exacerbating the existing socio-economic disparity of regional centres and entrenched community issues. Whilst the CWI is a long term initiative, there has never been a more crucial time as the East Gippsland community begins to build back stronger through a recovery lens across its key priority areas.

Image Supported play group at East Gippsland Children’s Wellbeing Initiative’s Bairnsdale office. Photo: courtesy Save the Children.

First established in 2015, the CWI works to ensure services are more integrated and inclusive, so marginalised children and their families do not fall through the gaps. Save the Children Australia acts as the backbone organisation of the initiative, which brings together a collective of some 85 organisations supporting children and their families across the region. Together, the CWI strengthens and builds collaborative responses to the needs of children.


  • While trauma affects whole communities impacted by disaster, children are particularly vulnerable, and are identified as experiencing specific recovery issues, namely around mental health and potential long-term academic impacts.
  • The CWI embeds child rights and participation principles across East Gippsland to ensure children have a voice and are heard, and that their fundamental health, safety and development rights met.
  • Save the Children played an important role in the immediate aftermath of the Black Summer bushfires, taking on a coordination role and implementing Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) with Evacuation and Relief/Recovery centres across Victoria, to ensure children’s wellbeing, coping mechanisms and resilience were strengthened through psycho-social support.
  • HMSTrust has provided core Response and Recovery funding to enable the continued operations of the CWI throughout the critical period of recovery from the compounding disasters of fire, COVID-19 and flood.
  • By working with local partners, the CWI will provide strategic and practical actions to ensure recovery in the area is community-led and evidence informed.
  • Save the Children uses a collective impact approach that measures the improvement in social problems through changed behaviours.
  • Development of a transition strategy will enable local organisations to take over the CWI backbone role by end of 2024.


"The impact of the 2020 Bushfires in East Gippsland followed by the COVID-19 pandemic mean that there is incredibly important work to be done to support children and families in recovery. The gaps and challenges in these communities have been magnified by the events of 2020" - Di Fisher, Executive Officer, Uniting - Gippsland & Carer Services