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What is Connected Beginnings?
Connected Beginnings aims to improve access to existing early childhood, maternal and child health and family support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, to ensure they are safe, healthy and ready to thrive at school by the age of five.
The program supports children from birth to school age, and pregnant women, with school readiness and educational outcomes to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children. This is achieved by sharing knowledge and improving outcomes for children and facilitating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement with integrated early childhood education, health and family support services across the country.
Connected Beginnings projects have been established in every state and territory of Australia – currently supporting 40+ sites across Australia with 50 to be established by 2025. Jointly funded by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Aged Care, the program is comprised of a network of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations that provide culturally safe support services for children and families in their area.
The programs are developed and run by ‘backbone organisations’, which are teams that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and organisations to codesign goals and solutions to support children. This ensures the sites:
- are led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- fund meaningful activities delivered in place and on Country
- fund solutions that meet the unique needs of each community.
Connected Beginnings sites ultimately yield strong, holistic support and care based on best practices of what is effective on the ground for our children and families.
SNAICC is the official Community Partner of Connected Beginnings. We are funded by the Department of Education to help guide the approach for community-led and culturally safe early childhood projects around Australia by:
- taking the lead in scoping new Connected Beginnings sites and providing foundational support
- providing ongoing tailored support for existing sites to establish and embed their work in line with community priorities
- testing ideas and responding to emerging challenges
- facilitate ongoing learning and networking across the growing number of sites nationally.
We are also a co-chair of the Advisory Group, where we provide leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years, child and maternal health and place-based initiatives.
More about the program
The aim of the program is to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s and families’ engagement with health and early childhood education and care.
Connected Beginnings is a grants program that supports 40+ sites across Australia. Grants are made available in every state and territory in Australia, with funding used to integrate local support services so children and families can access culturally appropriate support services, including:
- maternal and child health
- early childhood education and care
- family support
- preschools and schools
- local government and council support
By leveraging the resources and expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the program improves access to early childhood, maternal and child health and family support services.
Evaluation of Connected Beginnings: mid-term report 2023
The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Aged Care commissioned a mid-term evaluation of the program for 2023 to be carried out by Inside Policy. It found the program supported positive early educational and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.Download the mid-term 2023 assessment
Evaluation of Connected Beginnings Program: final report 2019
Australian Healthcare Associates was appointed to evaluate the program, which has been progressively rolled out since July 2016. This report presents findings on the program’s effectiveness, key learnings and characteristics of successful program sites.Download the final report (2019)
Kids Come First: The Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations Leadership Transition Framework is designed to assist leaders in Connected Beginnings communities. The framework aims to guide the transition of the Connected Beginnings backbone role from non-Indigenous organisations to ACCOs where there is agreement and support from the community.Download
Guiding Principles of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations Leadership Transition Framework
Excerpts from the draft of the Leadership Transition Framework with consultation with Aboriginal people and Connected Beginnings sites.Download
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