One of SNAICC’s past projects focused on how early childhood education and care (ECEC) services effectively engage with and provide quality services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities, and achieve positive outcomes for our children. We explored what is unique about services that are demonstrating outcomes and what we can learn from these services.
It is well documented that the years from 0-8 are critical in a child’s development. We also know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children remain significantly disadvantaged in development and educational outcomes by the end of the early years. Early childhood services that are accessible for and effectively engage with families are essential to promoting positive outcomes for children in these formative years. The Council of Australian Government (COAG) Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) sets out key principles, practices and outcomes for early childhood development. These provide the foundation for early child educators and services to assist children to reach their potential and develop foundations for future learning achievement.
SNAICC believes that the best and most effective organisations to provide ECEC services are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled. Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services, for example, have been actively applying the principles and practices of the EYLF to successfully provide children with learning and development opportunities within a high quality and culturally appropriate environment for nearly thirty years.
SNAICC has actually identified key principles for services that evidence has shown are most effective for achieving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. These are:
- Services that apply innovative governance strategies that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and governance;
- Services that foster an empowering culture;
- Services that support identity and culture; and
- Services that are holistic and responsive.
The Project – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood education and care services and the EYLF
SNAICC conducted research to deepen our understanding of how community controlled early childhood education and care (ECEC) services can and do promote better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This research involved consultations with 14 community controlled ECEC services and 6 Indigenous Professional Support Units (IPSUs) from around Australia, to explore how services are implementing the EYLF for outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The findings highlight that many services have been able to successfully engage with the Framework because it aligns with their existing practice and philosophies.
In particular, the services interviewed demonstrate strength and innovative approaches in delivering key outcomes such as children’s identity, with all services firmly believing that culture must underpin all that they do. As the Director of Congress Child Care Centre in Alice Springs describes: ‘It’s about that exposure to all those things…their art, their music, their storytelling…that they can be proud of who they are.’
- Learning from Good Practice: Implementing the Early Years Learning Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children – SNAICC Report 2012
SNAICC has drawn together the rich and varied examples coming out of the consultations into a report that explores service practice in implementing the EYLF outcomes, principles and practices, and draws together key recommendations for services, government and the sector as a whole. Complementing the report is a Resource Matrix listing key resources and organisations to support services in applying the EYLF.
- Learning From Good Practice – Implementing the Early Years Learning Framework Service Profiles – SNAICC Resource 2012
Out of this research we have also created a Good Practice Profile for each of the 14 services interviewed. These explore the unique strengths and qualities of each service and how they apply these to implement the EYLF.
Lastly, out of this research we have also developed a set of 12 Good Practice Fact Sheets that share and build upon the learnings and ideas coming out of the consultations. These are designed to give early childhood educators ideas for promoting, exploring and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture whilst implementing the outcomes, principles and practices from the Early Years Learning Framework. They are targeted primarily for educators in community controlled and in mainstream services that serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, but will also be relevant more broadly to assist in building an understanding of culture and inclusion within early childhood education and care services.
- Australian Government Department of Education and Training: National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care
- Australian Government Department of Education and Training: Early Years Learning Framework
“I don’t think we’ve ever thought this place is about strengthening just children, this place is about building a stronger community.”
– Former Director, Tasmanian Aboriginal Children’s Centre
Who to contact
If you would like more information about this research, please contact Holly Mason-White – [email protected]