Wyndham/Weribee, Victoria

About the community

Werribee is located within the City of Wyndham local council which is on the western edge of Melbourne, between the metropolitan area and Geelong. Wyndham covers an area of 542km² and features 27.4km of coastline bordering Port Phillip to the east. The City of Wyndham has an estimated resident population of 241,902 in 2017.

Cultural Diversity

In 2016, 31% of Werribee residents were born overseas and 27% of residents spoke a language other than English at home.  India, England, New Zealand, Myanmar and Italy were the top 5 countries of birth outside Australia. Karen, Italian, Punjabi, Hindi and Arabic were the most commonly spoken languages other than English


Compared to Wyndham, are proportionally fewer Werribee residents with a Bachelor degree or higher. In 2016, 14.8% of Werribee residents aged 15 years and over had obtained a Bachelor degree or higher, compared to 24% of residents across Wyndham. Vocational qualifications were the most common amongst Werribee residents, which around 29% of people 15 years and over had obtained.

Wyndham/Weribee and the Let's Read program

The Let's Read community program commenced in 2013 in the Wyndham area where The Smith Family is currently working. Let's Read complements the work being undertaken through Learning for Life program that works with four partnership schools in the region to create opportunities for young people experiencing disadvantage, by providing them long term support to participate in their education.

The Smith Family currently partners with VICSEG New Futures [Victorian Cooperative on Children's Services for Ethnic Groups (VICSEG Programs for Families, Children & Young People) and New Futures Training] to deliver the Lets Read program. In 2017 The Smith Family trained 9 playgroup facilitators from VICSEG New Futures. The Playgroups are made up of Burmese, Iranian, South Sudanese, Karen, Indian and multicultural communities. In 2018/19 200 book packs will be distributed to the community members as well as training another 10 community professionals to further increase the reach of the program.

Community stories

The Smith Family Programs Co-ordinator in the Werribee region attended several Let’s Read events at Playgroups run by community partner VICSEG New Futures. The facilitators of these playgroups work with culturally diverse families, often bilingual, supporting parents and their young children by operating out of schools and community centres.  The facilitators are often from these communities themselves, which includes Iranian, Burmese, Indian, Karen and South Sudanese playgroups. The playgroups are important for both the parents and the children, as the parents benefit from social supports and friendships, while the children’s skills and development are supported.

Large numbers of book packs were handed out and activities promoting early years and emerging literacy were conducted by the Smith Family and Play Group Facilitators. The events were a great success, where core elements of the program reached many families and their children.

September 2018


During Term 2, The Smith Family trained six facilitators in Let’s Read.  5 of the facilitators came from VICSEG, and one from Thomas Chirnside Playgroup.  All facilitators work with culturally diverse families, often bilingual, supporting parents and their young children.  The playgroups operate out of schools and community centres.  These playgroups are important for both the parents and the children, as the parents benefit from social supports and friendships, while the children’s skills and development are supported. 

One of the playgroups was a Karen playgroup operating out of Wyndham Park Primary School, and facilitated by a VICSEG bilingual playgroup facilitator.  One of the children attending the playgroup was a 3 year old Karen boy.  After reading to the children, singing songs, and explaining the Let’s Read packs to the parents, this little boy received a bright red 31/2 year old Let’s Read pack.  The pack contained an age appropriate book, reading tip sheet and a book list for the parent to go into the library to borrow further books for their child.

The little boy was so excited about getting his bag!  You could not wipe the smile of his face, as he rummaged through the contents and looked through the bright pictures in the book.  When his father got home from work that night, the little boy told his father excitedly about his pack, and showed him the book.  He told his father that “his teacher had given him the book”.  After dinner the day he received the pack, the little boy asked his mother to read him the book.  He was so happy with his book that he asked his mother if he could get a second book.

For the next few days, the little boy took his pack with him to the table during breakfast, lunch and dinner!  He even was found sleeping with his pack, as he was enjoying it so much. 

Let’s Read packs are such a benefit for both the parents and the children, to encourage early years literacy.  For many children, it is like a Christmas present, which they cherish and enjoy.  The packs also support the parents on how to best introduce literacy into early years development, and the importance of literacy for children’s future, particularly from birth to age 5.  It is a very important and vital program that is offered to families through The Smith Family, and a great opportunity to reach the bilingual and culturally diverse families within our communities. 

Lesley Sutton
Program Coordinator Learning for Life | The Smith Family

June 2013 - Wyndham Let’s Read community program launch.

About 500 children will benefit from the Wydham Let’s Read community program that is off to a flying start at a local primary school in Melbourne’s outer west. International jet plane manufacturer, Boeing, is a major supporter of this program.

Drawing inspiration from Boeing The Smith Family’s Brimbank team created an aviation-themed celebration for children and parents.  At this recent event, a Wyndham Park Primary School prep class joined local mums, babies and toddlers for an enthralling morning of games, songs and stories about flight and travel. The Smith Family staff dressed as flight ground crew taking boarding passes from each child as they arrived and the kids also took home their very own mock passport!

Anton Leschen, The Smith Family’s new General Manager for Victoria, welcomed the kids and parents, and talked about the importance of community and business working together with schools to have the greatest impact in helping disadvantaged families. The Wyndham Let’s Read community program is coordinated by The Smith Family in conjunction with Wyndham City Council, the local library, community and maternal and child health centres, VIEW clubs as well as other local services. This is an example of the partnerships being brought to Wyndham Park Primary School as a result of The Smith Family’s leading role in the Wyndham Extended School Hub.

In other Let’s Read news, a family support worker connected with the Let’s Read program in Broadmeadows (also coordinated by The Smith Family) has taken the program to a group of young mums in the Sunbury area. Through the process and training of Let’s Read, the worker realized that a number of the young mums had very low literacy levels. Through workers engaged the young mum’s in conversations about the Let’s Read program and the importance of sharing rhymes, song and stories with children from birth. Through this process of engagement the worker has established a trusting rapport with some of the young mums and is working to support them to attend an adult literacy course.

October 2013

Wyndham has been very busy with the roll out of Let’s Read funded by Boeing. Staff at the Werribee Smith Family Office have undertaken book readings and literacy activities at a couple of local playgroups in Wyndham.

At the Hungry Caterpillar group participants acted out the story of the Hungry Caterpillar and celebrated the visit with a butterfly dance. At the Karen Playgroup there was book reading, a parent talk, a craft activity and acting out of a few books.“Who Sank the Boat” was a favourite. The cardboard box we used as a prop got a workout and was really sunk by the time the story had been read a few times.  

The Learning for Life staff have now established good links with these groups and will continue guest readings and coaching sessions with parents at these groups. This is part of an ongoing strategy to ensure reading is taking place in playgroups. The work with MCH is continuing, with book packs being distributed at 18 months and 3.5 year MCH visits.

Staff at the Werribee Office also attended Book Week celebrations at The Grange Primary School. The morning consisted of a transition activity where local kindergarten and prep students participated in a buddy reading activity.  The prep students also gave handmade book marks to the kindergarten students.

In terms of training and capacity building the Wyndham Best Start Working group has identified an opportunity to train and support a local volunteer reading and story telling champion. This position will be developed and managed by The Smith Family in conjunction with Council and will promote reading at Playgroups, kindergartens, Community centre and in outreach work with Libraries.


The Let's Read community program in Wyndham is supported by The Smith Family.

Key contact

The Smith Family