Lumina Welcomes a Centre of Excellence in Early Learning: Fostering Inclusive Care Through Collaboration

NEWS - 03 Jun 2024

6 minute read

Imagine a future where early childhood education seamlessly integrates with healthcare and research, while creating a national model for inclusive care. This groundbreaking vision is about to become reality at Lumina, the Queensland Government’s commercial cluster within the thriving Health and Knowledge Precinct.

Within the brand new Proxima Development, Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure (Sanctuary) is taking centre stage with an innovative program designed to nurture all children, including those with additional needs and abilities. This isn’t merely about a new building; it’s a groundbreaking and collaborative effort between Sanctuary, researchers from Griffith University’s Hopkins Centre and a range of health professionals that will set a national benchmark for inclusive practices.

Proxima: A Hub for Integrated Care

Proxima is a $80 million Australian-first development designed to be a Centre of Excellence for children’s health and education being developed by Evans Long. Located within Lumina, it will foster a unique community where early learning, paediatric healthcare, specialist services, and embedded research seamlessly come together. This distinctive environment will allow for the translation of the latest research and advancements in early childhood development directly into the care environment, creating an unparalleled space for families to access all the support and care they need for children to thrive.

Sanctuary Early Learning: Building an Inclusive Future

Sanctuary offers a holistic approach centred on health and wellbeing, featuring a distinctive program that has been enhanced through a remarkable collaboration with healthcare professionals and Griffith University researchers.

Sanctuary is working to set a new standard for inclusive early childhood education. Its innovative program is specifically intended to support all children and families requiring support. This includes a diverse range of children with complex needs awaiting diagnosis as well as children with additional needs; encompassing those who are neurodiverse, on the autism spectrum, or have diagnosed medical conditions. This inclusive approach is built upon a family model of care, where support is tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and their family. Sanctuary works closely with allied health teams, community support groups, and programs to provide comprehensive support that embraces and nurtures both the individual child and their family.

A Unique Environment for Learning and Support

Sanctuary’s vision comes to life within the purposefully designed space at Proxima. Spread across two floors, the environment is meticulously crafted to cater to a wide range of needs. Sensory considerations, flexible learning spaces, and innovative design elements all contribute to creating a nurturing atmosphere where every child can flourish.

‘Years of research, consultation and thought have gone into the accessible design of the service. Universal access has been a key driver of design, including wheelchair accessibility, transitions from indoor to outdoor spaces, and both visual and auditory fire alarms. The space also caters to diverse needs with both informal and formal retreat spaces, sensory toys and soft furnishings for children who may require time away from the group or more private co-regulation space,’ said Melissa Taylor-Hansford, Sanctuary’s Diversity and Inclusion Leader.

Breaking New Ground in Collaboration

Generally, the early childhood education sector has a segregated approach to diverse needs, lacking broadly adopted and practical formalised approaches to inclusivity. However, the collaboration between Sanctuary and Hopkins Centre researchers seeks to break this mould. Driven by a shared vision and long-term commitment, this partnership delves deeper and extends further than any previous attempt in Australia.

And importantly, the leadership team at Sanctuary is committed to work alongside families as partners and recognise families as the child’s first and most influential teacher. ‘Family input is key to creating environments that are responsive to individual children’s needs,’ said Taylor-Hansford.  

Integration of Healthcare Professionals

Another key aspect of the collaborative approach is the seamless integration of healthcare professionals directly within the early learning environment, as well as connections to various health professionals within the Proxima building. This innovative approach seeks to reduce the burden on families seeking access to vital therapies, providing a holistic and supportive environment for children’s well-being, and reducing the need to travel around to appointments and clinics at multiple locations.

‘We are looking forward to meeting other health and allied health professionals who take up tenancies within the Proxima building’ says Taylor-Hansford. Partnerships are also being developed or extended with various community and NDIS services, and with the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Building this network of support will be significant not only for children, but for their whole family unit. Taylor-Hasford emphasised the importance of supporting families, particularly as those on a diagnostic pathway, or even those who have received a diagnosis for their child report feeling disconnected: ‘Advocacy, partnering and connecting families with resources will be part of the holistic family model we are developing.’

Research as a Living Lab

The research component of this collaboration takes a unique approach, distinct from traditional “community-embedded” models. Here, the focus is on creating a “living lab” where research will happen organically, without intruding on the children’s experience. Researchers become part of the environment, observing and collecting data in unobtrusive ways, often through technological advancements.

Upskilling the Workforce for the Future

A core focus of this collaboration is then to use the research and insights to empower the early childhood education workforce. Through direct involvement in the research, and ongoing training and development programs, Sanctuary’s early learning educators gain access to the latest evidence-based practices in early childhood development. Researchers and health professional collaborators will also benefit from the approach, valuing the expertise of the early learning staff, children, and families, and will foster a collaborative learning environment for all. Additionally, Griffith University students benefit from interdisciplinary training opportunities, creating a pipeline of skilled professionals equipped to lead the future of inclusive care.

‘We believe that hosting multidisciplinary teams will not only benefit children and families but also grow the professional recognition between education and care, research and health care professionals,’ said Taylor-Hansford.

A Playbook for Inclusive Practices: A Legacy for the Nation

The ultimate goal of the partners behind the collaboration is to create a national benchmark for inclusive early childhood education practices. By meticulously documenting the program’s outcomes, research findings, and best practices, the team aims to develop a comprehensive ‘playbook’ for the wider sector. This groundbreaking resource is intended to be made available to the broader sector within 3-5 years, empowering other early learning centres across Australia to implement inclusive practices and provide exceptional care for all children.

The Lumina Advantage: Where Collaboration Breeds Innovation

The story of Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure at Proxima is a testament to the power of collaboration within Lumina’s unique ecosystem. By fostering connections between healthcare, research, and education, Lumina is crafting a dynamic environment and community where innovation thrives. In this case, the collaborative spirit encouraged within the community not only benefits the children at Sanctuary but also paves the way for a brighter future for inclusive early childhood education across Australia.

Considering a move to Lumina? Imagine the possibilities when your organisation joins a community dedicated to pushing boundaries and making a real difference. Lumina currently boasts four multiple-story purpose-built developments, with two under construction and two expected to commence soon, with completion from 2024 onwards.

These developments are purpose-designed with health, technology and sciences businesses in mind, and are available now for precommitments to buy or lease office space.

Lumina’s first commercial development, Proxima, is scheduled for occupancy in May 2024 with its second development, RDX Lumina, due for completion in June 2025.

Tenants or buyers securing now are among the privileged first movers in what is a very tight supply pipeline of new office buildings.  Contact us today to learn more about how Lumina can help your organisation thrive.

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