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New model for child care being developed on Gold Coast


The Queensland site where some of the world’s greatest sports stars once lived will soon house one of the world’s most elite collections of specialists aiming to find new and better ways to treat childhood illnesses, improve early childhood learning and develop a new model for childcare.

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Part of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Athletes Village is to be replaced by an “integrated centre of excellence” for paediatric health, education and helping children with special needs integrate into the mainstream.

Under the Australian-first model, the $80 million Proxima specialist children’s health and education centre will link paediatric specialists with experts and researchers from Gold Coast University Hospital, Gold Coast Private Hospital and Griffith University.

Queensland childcare provider Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure has been locked in for the centre that will cater to 400 children, including 25 per cent with special needs, with construction on Proxima to get underway early next year.

The childcare centre will develop a new model that draws on the expertise of paediatric specialists at Proxima, the hospitals, and students and researchers from Griffith University to deliver services for enrolled children.

“We will be creating partnerships with specialists who come on board at Proxima and those who work at the hospital and university.  These specialists will become part of our team and will, with parental permission, have the ability to work with children directly,” Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure co-founder Damian Hall said.

“We believe more needs be done to provide streamlined, accessible and timely support for families who may be struggling with a special needs child, and all families who are navigating early childhood development.

“The learnings from this project will help improve social outcomes for everyone and will hopefully spark a long-term change in the way early childhood educators, specialists and businesses work together.”

The model will focus on using technology to support vulnerable and special needs children and their families.

Childhood-focused research and innovation across Griffith University and Gold Coast Health specialties will also be employed under the collaboration.

The research includes early learning and literacy, autism and developmental disorders, child psychology, allied health including speech pathology, occupational therapy and disability services, as well as complex disorders such as foetal alcohol syndrome disorder and paediatric feeding disorders.

Despite a downturn in construction on the Gold Coast and across Queensland, construction on Proxima is expected to kick off  in early 2021. Around 40 per cent of the building leases were pre-committed, with negotiations continuing with several more tenants.

Property Council of Australia Queensland Executive Director Chris Mountford said it was a vital major investment and development continued despite the pandemic-induced slow-down.

“It is positive to see continued interest in undertaking new development within the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, particularly given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on business sentiment,” Mountford said.

Developed by Evans Long, Proxima is the first private commercial development within Lumina, the Queensland Government’s 9.5-hectare development-ready space within the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct on the 2018 athletes village site.

Evans Long Director Dirk Long said Proxima was designed to foster collaboration amongst business, industry, the university and hospital.

“Our vision is for Proxima to be a one-stop location for paediatric health, childhood development and childcare, with a range of specialists under one roof who are able to work hand-in-hand with medical professionals within Lumina and the Precinct to provide best-practice care,” Long said.

Proxima is based on the internationally-recognised Great Ormond Street Hospital centre of excellence in child healthcare in London that links specialist health services for children with the UK’s only paediatric National Institute for Health Research and Biomedical Research Centre specialising in paediatric health.

The Gold Coast initiative will be led by Griffith University Pro Vice Chancellor Health, Professor Sheena Reilly, a world leader in speech pathology research.

Associate Professor in Speech Pathology and Deputy Research Director at The Hopkins Centre at Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, David Trembath, will coordinate research.

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