FROM trekking through the Crater Lakes to exploring the Umpherston Caves at night, experiencing Mount Gambier has never been easier through the 50-plus things to do in Mount Gambier before you turn 13 checklist.
The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) Action Group initiative has evolved into a valuable tool for discovering the Blue Lake city’s surroundings.
In collaboration with the Mount Gambier Children’s Centre and the Mount Gambier City Council, an updated list is “hot off the press” this month.
Mount Gambier Children’s Centre community development coordinator Fiona Pulford said the timing “could not be better.”
“We thought this was a fantastic time for the updated list to be released,” she said.
“Coming to the end of the school holidays parents may be thinking, ‘what else can I do with the kids’?”
Ms Pulford said the list’s new additions encouraged parental support to help them engage with their children.
“We thought about things we could do to support families when they are looking for a helping hand,” she said.
“We have included services on the back for parenting support as we all know every parent at some stage has some struggles.
“We also really want to reduce the stigma around parents seeking support.”
Ms Pulford said the idea for the list started following the release of Mount Gambier’s 2012 AEDC results.
“The census is taken Australian-wide with children every three years in their first year of school,” she said.
“When considering Mount Gambier our story has not necessarily been a positive one and we have shown an increase in vulnerability through the census.
“The action group was formed in 2013 as a way to mitigate some of these vulnerabilities after a forum regarding the second release of the de-identifiable data.”
Ms Pulford said the list was first established in 2014 as 50 things to do in Mount Gambier before the age of 13.
“In 2016 we updated it and added the visitation of the railway lands and also the recommendation of building something with Play on Wheels which made the list more than 50 things,” she said.
“I think the main aim for the list is to encourage interaction between parents and their children as they are their child’s first teacher and are the ones that will have a lifelong impact.
“The list allows parents to engage with the children in low-cost or no cost activities but allows the kids to connect with their community and recognise their citizenship.”
Ms Pulford said the various sites listed were brainstormed through a collaboration with community members.
“The initial list was not just me sitting in the office streaming ideas off the internet,” she said.
“It took a whole year to finalise due to the significant research involved with Mount Gambier community members.”
Although there are similar initiatives available, Ms Pulford said this list in particular is unique and specific to Mount Gambier.
“Lots of children are able to talk about places they had visited while they were on holiday but they were not necessarily showing a connection with local surroundings,” she said.
“We see tourists coming through saying we have great resources but some were not developed for them but more so community members.
“The idea is to have an easily-accessible list so they can stick in on their fridge and tick them off as they go.”
Mount Gambier Library manager Georgina Davison will be among those to distribute the list proudly.
“As I only arrived in Mount Gambier a year ago, when I first came to town I saw the list and thought ‘wow’,” she said.
“It opened my eyes up into everything you can do and the new addition of the service support contacts is great.
“There are some projects in the pipeline for how else the list can be utilise which is exciting.”
Ms Pulford said if significant attractions appeared in the future then the list may expand further.
“The list involves activities from birth all the way up to the age of 13,” she said.
“If other facilities were added like the proposed sports and recreation centre in a couple of years time then we may have to update it.”
The list is available from the Mount Gambier Children’s Centre, Mount Gambier Library, the Main Corner, the visitor information centre and online.