A project involving researchers from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) that's designed to help children living in rural areas better transition to primary school has won a major award.

The 'By Five' project has taken out the Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships category at the Victorian Government Early Years Awards.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee 'By Five' Specialist Paediatric Support Partnership (SPSP) has significantly improved health and wellbeing outcomes for children by connecting the specialist expertise of The Royal Children's Hospital paediatrician Dr Billy Garvey with local primary health providers via digital health. 

SPSP was developed as a response to the 2018 Australian Early Development Census that exposed a growing gap in the school-readiness of rural children compared with urban children. 

MCRI's Rachel Robinson, who is the project manager, said was thrilled for her team who had increased the confidence and capacity of primary health services in the Wimmera Southern Mallee region to solve complex care issues in partnership with families.

"Many rural children were previously being referred to specialist services located in major cities for health and development issues that could be resolved locally," she said. 

"But through this project they can now receive that expertise through local primary care services that they trust and use every day. 

"We have created an environment where families have a voice in the design of the services they need to thrive in their unique rural community."  

'By Five' extends to more than 50 health, education and family service providers working alongside the Department of Education and Training, Department of Health and Human Services, MCRI and The Royal Children's Hospital. 

The project will receive a grant of up to $15,000.