Under the leadership of Contact’s founding Coordinator June Jeremy, the service now known as the Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile was first established in 1987
Following extensive consultation with families across the region, June successfully secured funds through the philanthropic Bernard Van Leer Foundation, The Hague to establish, manage and evolve the Contact Children’s Mobile based in Wanaaring, NSW.
Funded to implement a pilot project from 1987 to 1994, Contact aimed to develop this innovative service model to flexibly respond to the needs of children and families living in one of the most remote areas of Australia.
The Contact Children’s Mobile team provided play-based sessions for children and families, enjoyed home visits with families, coordinated community activities to complement other visiting child and family programs, developed child and parenting related information including print and video resources and established the Contact with Kids radio program through 2WEB Bourke.
Committed to facilitating responsive models of community management, Contact worked to secure ongoing Australian Government support for the Wanaaring based mobile service post philanthropic funding and established a regionally based association to manage the service.
The success of the pilot project was recognised in December 1994 by the Mobile's incorporation as an ongoing community managed early childhood service fully funded by the Australian Government, and henceforth known as the Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile. At that time, the Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile (PCCM) Incorporated Association assumed responsibility for the service.
Contact works as a catalyst for change at the local level. It is also a long-term vocal advocate on behalf of rural and remote communities for equity, universal access, and quality service delivery. Contact aims to address individual and organisational isolation in ways that cross limitations state and national policy and political boundaries may impose.
Thus, it was in 1987 that Contact recognised the social and professional benefits of networking between all Children's Mobile teams operating in remote contexts throughout Australia. Supported by additional funding from the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Contact successfully approached the Australian Government to implement week-long residential professional gatherings for Mobile Children’s Services.
The Inaugural National Mobile Service Muster, named, developed, and coordinated by Contact, was held in Birdsville in 1991. Both Muster content and delivery format were informed by the highly valued Mobile professional residential networking model that Contact had initiated, developed, and for many previous years, coordinated for NSW Mobile services.
It was at the at the Adelaide Mobile Muster in 1992 that Contact first raised the potential of establishing a national body to represent all Mobile Children’s Services across Australia and the idea was enthusiastically accepted. At the 1994 Alice Springs Mobile Muster, the National Association of Mobile Services (NAMS) for rural and remote children and families Inc was established and in 1996 the Contact President chaired the first NAMS AGM in Townsville Qld.
In 1995 the Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile was awarded the Oscar Van Leer Award which recognised the Mobile as an international program of excellence for children and families. The Contact Co-ordinator and a representative from the Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile travelled to The Hague to proudly accept this Award.
Until 2020, Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile operated successfully as an independent, regionally managed service. However, given changing demographic and funding contexts, Paroo Contact Children’s Mobile and Contact decided to join as the one entity once again. Now together as Contact, they continue to initiate and support development of innovative service models which flexibly respond to the needs of the communities they serve.
Photo: Sue Kingwill CEO Contact Inc., Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO (Governor-General of Australia from 2008 to 2014) and June Jeremy