Early Childhood Development
Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to grow up healthy, happy and ready for school is key to a prosperous future for the next generation. Investing in children from conception and throughout the first five years has positive whole-of-life impacts across education, employment, health and connection to community (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011).
The NIAA is working with communities, governments and service providers to support young children to access quality, culturally safe care and education services, ensuring that children start school with the best chance of success.
The Indigenous Advancement Strategy
Through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Australian Government is investing $43.4 million over 2021-22 in a range of early childhood development and enabling activities, such as supported playgroups, and community and family engagement activities. This funding supplements mainstream Commonwealth support in childcare, pre-school, health and family support programs.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy
On 8 December 2021, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy (the Strategy) was launched. The Strategy was developed in partnership between the NIAA and SNAICC - National Voice for Our Children.
The Strategy sets a vision that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years; that they are born healthy, remain strong and are nurtured by strong families. Connection to culture is central to the Strategy, recognising its fundamental importance in allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to flourish, to feel safe and loved, and to fulfil their potential.
The Strategy outlines five evidence-based goals, which complement existing Australian Government strategies and frameworks across multiple portfolios, as well as commitments under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The goals under the Strategy are that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children:
- are born healthy and remain strong
- are supported to thrive in their early years
- are supported to establish and maintain strong connections to culture, country, and language
- grow up in safe nurturing homes, supported by strong families and communities
- are active partners in building a better service system (along with their families and communities).
Closing the Gap National Agreement and the Early Years
The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement) came into effect on 27 July 2020. It was developed and agreed in genuine partnership between all Australian governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations. See the Closing the Gap website for further information.
There are several Priority Reforms and Outcomes with an early childhood focus:
- Priority Reform 1 - Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making - early childhood care and development is noted as a priority area.
- Priority Reform 2 - Building the Community-Controlled Sector - early childhood care and development is noted as a priority area.
- Outcome 2 - Children are born healthy and strong.
- Outcome 3 - Children are engaged in high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood education in their early years.
- Outcome 4 - Children thrive in their early years.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2011. Headline Indicators for children’s health, development and wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 144. Canberra: AIHW.