The Bathurst Child and Family Network (BCFN) is a network of organisations from education, community, welfare and early childhood service sectors proactively engaged in improving outcomes for children and families in Bathurst.
We believe that “it takes a village to raise a child” and we must all play a part.
The BCFN have been instrumental in developing and leading a range of activities, events, projects and initiatives to help make Bathurst a better place for children, families and the whole community because “a world that is good for children is good for everyone” (Valuing Children Initiative 2016).
BCFN aims to:
“Improve outcomes and opportunities for children and promote the value of the early years, children, young people, families and carers within the wider community”
BCFN implements a positive wellbeing focus, and includes children’s voice, wellness and participation in its activities and future directions, through:
- Voice – respecting and including children
- Wellness – fostering children’s safety, health, play and promoting nurturing
- Participation – advocating for children as active, achieving and responsible citizens
BCFN leads local inclusive grassroots events. We continue to work toward achieving our goal of increasing community awareness of children’s rights.
We believe that Bathurst will be a child aware city
We want children and young people to be seen, heard and valued in Bathurst
Our Guiding Principles
Read more about the principles guiding BCFN in advocating for children and young people in Bathurst:
- Human rights
- Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
- Attachment theory
- Community capacity building approaches
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children
- Western Australia’s Valuing Children Initiative
- NSW Strategic Plan for Children and Young People (2016-2018)
- Local Government, Bathurst Regional Council Community Strategic Plan 2036
Bathurst Child and Family Network (BCFN) have been running since the early 2000’s. It began as an early childhood interagency as part of the then Schools as Community Centres (SaCC) program. Since 2011, the network has taken a pro-active cross-sector approach across Bathurst and has planned and implemented numerous projects and events through a range of subcommittees.
BCFN has been instrumental in its inclusive community grassroots approach by initiating, leading and hosting a wide range of events.
Three of these key activities are:
- The Bathurst Family Fun Day (2012 – ongoing)
- The first-ever Bathurst’s Big Banter (2015)
- BCFN ‘building child-safe, child-friendly communities’ initiative across Bathurst (2016-ongoing)
Bathurst Family Fun Day
BCFN are proud hosts of this annual free inclusive community event celebrating the importance and value of children and families in Bathurst during National Families Week on the second Saturday in May. It is our flagship event and proudly won the 2016 Bathurst Community Event of the Year Award.
Bathurst’s Big Banter
A turning point for the network was during a chance meeting with Megan Mitchell, the National Children’s Commissioner plus the completion of our strategic planning late in 2014. From this point we focused more specifically on children’s rights, and led us to host a community forum about children called Bathurst’s Big Banter – a first for Bathurst! It was our local version of Megan’s Australia-wide Big Banter as she travelled and talked and listened to children across the country.
The network used Bathurst’s Big Banter as an opportunity to listen to what Bathurst was saying about children from a positive perspective i.e. ‘what’s right for children in Bathurst?’
The key messages and outcomes arising from Bathurst’s Big Banter were:
- Information sessions were held for the community and service sector to increase knowledge and understanding of legal issues relating to children e.g. guardianship
- Feedback received showed that Bathurst’s Big Banter was highly valued, and there needs to be more opportunities for continued conversations within the community
- That children need to have a voice, and a range of opportunities to engage with the conversation and issues that affect them
- Environments within the community, and safe social spaces that promote inclusion, accessibility and participation are important
- The need for adults to be children’s champions in their everyday lives and work
- That schools do play an important role in building relationships within the community both within and beyond the school gate
- That the network continues to facilitate opportunities for children, young people and adults to be involved in the developing community of Bathurst
Following Bathurst’s Big Banter, with a clear resolve to continue our work, promoting children’s rights at a practical level, we decided upon a cross-sector capacity building workforce development approach to making Bathurst a more child-safe, child-friendly community.
BCFN ‘building child-safe, child-friendly communities’ initiative
During 2016 we led the ‘building child-safe, child-friendly communities’ initiative which included three events – these were a Briefing, a Conference and a Showcase. BCFN are grateful recipients of a NSW Family and Community Services for Local Area Network Development Grant.
The purpose of the Initiative was to provide opportunities for managers of organisations working with children and families in the Bathurst region to learn and share ideas about children’s rights.
An evaluation by Charles Sturt University found that the BCFN ‘building child-safe, child-friendly communities’ Initiative:
- increased participants’ knowledge about being child-aware, child-safe and child-friendly;
- supported organisations to make changes towards child-friendly policies and practices; and
- enabled organisations to share experiences, learnings and expertise in developing and implementing child-friendly policies and practices.
One of the most significant recent achievements of the BCFN ‘Building child-safe, child-friendly communities’ initiative was the June 2016 resolution made by Bathurst Regional Council to:
- support BCFN to build awareness within the local business sector and Bathurst community;
- take leadership to promote the principles of UNCRC and lead Bathurst towards being recognised as a Child-Friendly City; and
- incorporate the Initiative into the Bathurst 2036 Community Strategic Plan.
Other proud achievements include:
- Winners of the 2016 Bathurst Community Event of the Year Award for the Bathurst Family Fun Day (BFFD)
- Bathurst’s Big Banter in 2015 report
- Leading the ‘building child-safe, child-friendly community’ initiative across Bathurst during 2016, which Bathurst Regional Council resolved to support BCFN into the future
- Launch of the final report by CSU evaluation of the ‘building child-safe, child-friendly community’ initiative across Bathurst as a result of a CSU Community-University Partnership grant
- Hosts of Kids Play since 2016
- Promoting inclusion through various Country Arts Support Program grants that:
- Painted the story of Biladurang on two poles in Bicentennial Park by Wiradyuri artists Nyree Reynolds and Lewis Burns at the 2014 BFFD
- Provided children with free drama and circus skills leading to a performance of ‘Hearing children’s voices’ at the 2016 BFFD.
- Children, under guidance of local Aboriginal artist Nyree Reynolds, painted the story of Biladurang (platypus) in 2017 as part of the ‘Children and community: celebrating Wiradyuri culture’ project.