The beginnings of Our Place Northern Bay and the journey so far

The Northern Bay Journey Report provides in-depth descriptions of the origin of implementing the Our Place initiative in Corio, Geelong.

The Corio community

The Northern Bay Our Place site is located at Northern Bay College’s Wexford Campus in the Geelong suburb of Corio. Corio is a diverse suburb, with a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents along with a high number of families who have recently arrived from a range of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Corio is also an area where many families are experiencing high levels of socio-economic disadvantage and other vulnerabilities such as disability, refugee status, single-parenting, unemployment and children living in out of home care.

Today, the Wexford campus of Northern Bay College and the City of Greater Geelong’s Korayn Birralee Family Centre (opened in January 2020), together make up the Our Place Northern Bay site. The name ‘Korayn Birralee’ was chosen to recognise and celebrate the region’s Aboriginal heritage and means ‘Corio children’ in the local Wadawurrung language.

Building on existing partnerships

The introduction of the Our Place approach was seen as a valuable addition to the original existing solid partnership between the City of Greater Geelong, Northern Bay College and Department of Education and Training (DET). The values of Our Place and its place-based approach to improving outcomes of vulnerable families resonated with this partnership from the outset. “I saw Our Place as an opportunity to increase the connection between the community and school and really promote the idea that learning starts at birth” – Northern Bay College Principal

Prior to the Our Place partnership, many initiatives were already in place and embedded within the College, all of which aligned to the Our Place approach. These included the implementation of the Berry Street Education Model (a trauma-informed education approach aimed at increasing student engagement) and play-based learning (specifically the evidence-based Kathy Walker Learning approach).

As it stands today, the site partnership group (SPG) consists of dedicated representatives from Our Place, Northern Bay College, Department of Education and Training (DET), Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) and City of Greater Geelong.

Continuing the journey

The opening of Korayn Birralee has provided the Northern Bay community with access to the latest in early childhood facilities and environmental design. It offers families long day care, kindergarten, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services, playgroups, and parenting programs. Within the centre, there are also five consultation rooms for allied health services, a specialist family support program room, a multipurpose/community room, a parent lounge, and an extensive, nature-inspired outdoor play area. It also includes a very pivotal aspect of the Our Place approach which is a shared entry and reception with Northern Bay College.

In 2021, the SPG worked together to develop an initial three-year sitewide strategic plan, which has now been completed. Based on community consultation, local data and identified needs within the community, the SPG has collaboratively determined and agreed upon three site priorities. This strategic plan highlights how the SPG will collectively work together to ensure that:

  1. Children in the Corio community grow up healthy and happy
  2. Families are supported
  3. Adult learning and employment opportunities are improved

The Northern Bay Journey Report Publication

The Northern Bay Journey Report provides readers with an opportunity to learn about and gain a deep understanding of the involvement and contribution of the key partners at Northern Bay. This report also explains in detail, the series of events leading up to the establishment of the site and the early progress of implementing the Our Place approach. The journey is still underway, and it is essential to recognise that it takes considerable time to make progress in the different Our Place elements and outcome areas. This report in its entirety can be downloaded for free via our publications section on our website here