Ballarat, Victoria

About the community

Ballarat is one of Australia’s fastest growing regional centres. At the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics census, Ballarat’s resident population was 95,007 people. Its estimated resident population in 2026 is expected to be 120,339 people.  Ballarat is located in the Central Highlands Region of Victoria.

Approximately 8.7% of the Ballarat population were born overseas, and 4.5% of the population came from countries where English is not the first language. Ballarat’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Ballarat has grown to 1139 individuals according to the 2011 census data. The composition of Ballarat families is trending towards higher levels of couple families with no children (currently 38.6% of family households), lower levels of couple families with children (currently 41.0% of family households) and higher levels of one parent families (18.9%), which all follow the state trends apart from the proportion of one parent families, which is higher than state and regional averages of 15.4%.

In 2011 the City of Ballarat’s Literacy and Numeracy Committee was formed consisting of a partnership between:

  • • City of Ballarat Family and Children’s Services, Maternal and Child Health, City of Ballarat Libraries
  • • Best Start partnership project between the City of Ballarat and DEECD
  • • DEECD (Grampians Region)
  • • Private Education Consultants
  • • Kindergarten and Childcare providers
  • • The Smith Family
  • • University of Ballarat
  • • Australian Catholic University
  • • Centacare
  • • Toy Library
  • • Child and Family Services


A Literacy and Numeracy Strategy was developed in 2012 which aims to build and foster the capacities of the lifelong learner’s journey. The values outlined in the City of Ballarat’s Early Years Literacy and Numeracy Strategy include:

  • • celebrate the contemporary lives, cultures and identities of children
  • • value the things that children and young people can do and want to know
  • • recognise the important role of parents, carers and educators in the lives of children
  • • acknowledge the right of children to access, contribute to, and comment upon the City of Ballarat’s collections, services and programs


The Early Years Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Framework  has a number of core learning principles that help to shape space and practice and create a rich learning environment for Children. These evidence-based principles acknowledge the multifaceted nature of the learner.

Ballarat and the Let's Read program

The Let's Read community program was launched in the City of Ballarat in July 2013. The program encourages parents to read aloud to babies from as early as four months to build literacy skills and pave the way for a successful start at primary school.  About 1200 children in Ballarat will benefit from the program each year, to be delivered to parents through the City of Ballarat’s four maternal and child health centres and outreach services. Families with children aged 12 months will be provided with resource packs and a free children’s book when they visit the maternal and child health centres. Packs include tips on how to read to babies and toddlers; suggested reading lists; and an age-appropriate book.

Let’s Read will be co-ordinated in Ballarat by The Smith Family in conjunction with the City of Ballarat through the Maternal and Child Health Team.

Community stories

July 2013

In preparation for the launch of the Let's Read community program The Smith Family’s Ballarat Team Leader Brenton Hancock said the program was an important source of support for parents from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“With research showing that one third of children living in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities are developmentally vulnerable when they start school, Let’s Read can help parents to introduce young children to the joys of reading and put them on a successful path to primary school,” Mr Hancock said.

The City of Ballarat’s People and Communities Portfolio councillor Belinda Coates said: “We know that reading to children is crucial for their development, as well as being great fun. The Let’s Read program is another way we can support Ballarat families and help more children have this life-changing experience with their parents.”

Read the Ballarat Courier Mail news article.

Key contact

The Smith Family