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Last Thursday marked a significant moment in the early years sector in Greater Shepparton.

It was the culmination of over 12 months of planning and consultation, sparked by a conversation at a Greater Shepparton Best Start Early Years Alliance meeting in late 2022.

Following the State Government’s announcement that free Kinder would be available for 3- and 4-year-old programs, and hours of kindergarten would increase to 15 and 30 respectively, there was consensus that much would need to be done to build the workforce pipeline around the increased services on offer.

Ensuring we have well trained and adequately prepared staff to support the sector requires meticulous planning and qualified educators ready to go.

Enter WomenCAN Australia.

Under the leadership of Founder Mikalea Stafrace, and with the financial support of Greater Shepparton Foundation, Greater Shepparton City Council and Bowden Marstan Foundation, WomenCAN Australia have launched their celebrated `earn and learn’ model in Greater Shepparton.

The program supports women from diverse backgrounds to undertake a paid traineeship, while completing a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC30121), a nationally recognised qualification through GOTAFE in Shepparton.

The program then supports participants to study and find employment in early years’ services locally.

By removing barriers and inefficiencies that might otherwise hamper a woman’s ability to gain a qualification or meaningful employment, the WomenCAN Australia model walks alongside women throughout their training with a peer support program The Placement Circle.

Our vision at the Greater Shepparton Foundation is to have an inclusive, interconnected community, where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.

Offering women, the opportunity to gain financial independence, a qualification, find meaningful employment, gain confidence, and improve their family’s financial wellbeing underpins our unwavering support for this program.

The program is being led by community champion and Fairley Fellow, Donna Baldwin, who is well positioned to support local participants interested in learning more. You can contact Program Manager Donna Baldwin at

To find out more about this impressive program and hear updates on participants please visit the ‘Major Projects’ page on the Greater Shepparton Foundation website.

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