The Gold Coast’s booming number of young families is set to benefit from advancements in early childhood education and paediatric healthcare infrastructure with work commencing on a children’s health and education centre of excellence, Proxima.
Proxima is an $80-million purpose-built facility delivering a new hybrid childcare and paediatric health centre with a highly specialised level of care, offering families a full service of support for their children, under one roof.
Proxima is at Lumina, the Queensland government’s 9.5ha premium commercial cluster dedicated to the health and technology sectors within the 200ha Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.
The precinct is also home to established health and science leaders Gold Coast University Hospital, the Gold Coast Private Hospital, Griffith University, and Cohort Innovation Space.
Proxima’s facilities have been designed with the future healthcare needs of thousands of families in the region as a priority.
The current Gold Coast population is forecast to increase by 45 per cent between 2021 and 2041. Notably, the primary catchment of Southport is expected to outperform the broader region in relative growth with its total population expected to increase by almost 75 per cent during that same period.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest Regional Internal Migration report showed that in 2020, Queensland received the highest volume of interstate migrants within Australia.
Between financial years 2006 and 2007, and 2019 and 2020 Gold Coast regional migration volume totalled 61,533. Significantly, migrants aged 25 to 64 and those aged 0 to 14 have accounted for a 75 per cent share of the Gold Coast’s total net regional internal migration growth since 2016 and 2017 and are heavily skewed towards nuclear family households.
While the common narrative refers to an ageing Australian population, in this region, there is growth in families with young children.
It's estimated that there more than 80,000 children (0-9 years old) currently living on the Gold Coast, with 34 per cent forecasted growth by 2041.
As over 60 per cent of the Gold Coast’s projected population growth is expected to occur within Northern Gold Coast, residents will be highly dependent on Lumina and the Precinct to meet their medical needs.
The very high density of children also means that there is also significant demand for quality childcare and early education to meet the needs of families of this region.
Gold Coast local mum and early childhood teacher, Claire Watkins (not her real name), has observed increasing enrolments in primary schools.
"There is growth in both numbers of children enrolling in prep, and in the diversity of their needs,” she said.
The changing demographics also impact health services on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast University Hospital already has significant wait times for paediatric services.
This high demand helped co-founders Damian and Lauren Hall to choose Proxima as the location for Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure, a first-of-its-kind, hybrid childcare and paediatric health centre. It will occupy two levels of the Proxima building and cater for 400 children.
Wartkin’s own young daughter has complex health and developmental needs. Watkins said that having access to health services during early childhood for her daughter was essential, and early intervention has had a significant impact on both her daughter and her family's daily life.
“Travelling and communicating between childcare and health services was really hard,” she said.
“Having my daughter’s appointments in the one local place would have relieved a lot of stress. And for many other families, just getting to all the appointments would be impossible.”
Proxima has already attracted key tenants on its path to establishing the paediatric centre of excellence. In fact, over 65 per cent of space is already committed.
The Proxima building has six floors dedicated to paediatric specialists, research and development, and other child healthcare services. Griffith University also joins Sanctuary at Proxima, with a collaboration between education, health, research, and childhood development.
“The co-location of Griffith and Sanctuary in the Proxima building is the perfect basis on which to establish a centre of excellence in Inclusive Early Childhood Education: a place in which every child can grow and learn together,” said Griffith University Vice Chancellor Carolyn Evans.
“The centre brings together interdisciplinary teams across Griffith’s Allied Health disciplines and Early Childhood Education to embed a model of research-integrated inclusive childcare education.”
Watkins said this model of care would have been enormously beneficial to her family.
“The predictability and the familiarity of having my daughter's therapy and care in the one location would also have really helped strengthen the relationships between my daughter and her specialists.”
As tenants move quickly to snap up the remainder of available space in Proxima, their neighbours within the wider Lumina precinct continue to move into the community too.
They are seeing Lumina’s vision for health, technology, and industry to take full advantage of co-location with like-minded experts and partners. These include counterparts at Griffith University, Gold Coast University Hospital and Gold Coast Private Hospital, as well as opportunities to connect with Cohort Innovation Space, the launchpad for health and technology start-ups.
While Proxima breaks ground, the next round of the planned developments at Lumina are taking shape, with further opportunities to lease offices, laboratories, and collaborative workspaces in Lumina available.
The medical, social, and entrepreneurial adaptability of Lumina, the projected Gold Coast population growth, and concentration of economic activity offer new and existing businesses every advantage to start, grow or expand.
Proxima is leading the way to demonstrate the benefits of this new model for its tenants, and for the Gold Coast community's growing number of children and families.
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