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It is with excitement and enormous pride that I write to let you know that the EON Thriving Communities Program has been recognised and featured as a successful case study in the 2018 Close the Gap Report, (pages 103 and 114).
The EON Thriving Communities Program is unique in Australia and it is because of this that our grassroots approach to improving health and preventing disease through better nutrition in remote Aboriginal communities has proved so successful.
Despite criticism directed at successive Governments and slow progress toward the achievement of four of the seven Close the Gap targets, the EON Thriving Communities Program has been able to achieve real and tangible change as evidenced by the recent release of our 2017 Monitoring and Evaluation Report.
The EON Thriving Communities Program is different because:
- It operates by invitation only from remote, Aboriginal communities. We do not go into communities that do not want us!! We work alongside and in partnership with local community members rather than impose our Program on communities that are not ready or do not want to participate in the Program.
- It is a long-term, practical approach, developing community capacity through working partnerships rather than passive handouts. We provide training and mentoring to build capacity and assure sustainability once the Program is complete.
- It is focused on early intervention to remove ‘impediments to parity in education’. Good nutrition is vital for healthy brain development. It gets kids fit for school . . . and helps keep them in school.
- It provides a secure supply of fresh food where typically there is little or none and teaches children and adults to grow their own food in harsh climatic conditions and prepare it in a healthy environment as part of the school curriculum.
- It builds trust and a reputation for reliability through our presence in community throughout the five-year tenure of the Program – vital for building community engagement, capacity and ownership.
- It uses gardens as an alternative to the classroom, engaging kids including those who struggle with conventional learning.
Since 2005, the EON Thriving Communities Program has been delivered in 24 communities in Western Australia with great success. In January 2018, at the invitation of the schools, communities and Anindilyakwa Land Council, the EON Foundation began the expansion of our Program into three communities in the Northern Territory.
As our founder and chair, Ms Caroline de Mori stated in the report “Without good nutrition infants cannot thrive, children cannot succeed at school and employment opportunities are diminished. Remote community members want their children to grow up healthy but face barriers to accessing nutritious, affordable food. Communities are driving solutions and are active partners in our practical, community based program. They recognise the importance of programs that are long-term and build capacity and confidence.”
Whilst we are delighted with the ongoing development and success of this Program and the recognition it has received in the 2018 Close the Gap Report, we recognise that none of this would be possible without the generous support and financial assistance of our funding partners, donors, staff and volunteers, collaborating agencies and all the generous people with whom we work. As always, our success is your success and on behalf of the EON Foundation, I thank you for your commitment to our mission and for stepping up and being part of the solution to closing the gap in the health and educational potential between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.