Early Years Services Access Project

Currently, in Bendigo, there are very low rates of participation of Aboriginal children and families in universal support services and early learning programs. Local feedback from Aboriginal people and agencies suggests that early years services and programs can improve the way they engage with and support the needs of Aboriginal children and families. C4C have partnered with the Bendigo and Districts Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) to try to address these issues.

Aim of Project

  • To increase the participation rates of Aboriginal children and families in support services, including universal services for children.
  • To build linkages between early years services and Aboriginal children & families.
  • To build the cultural competence of early years services and, in doing so create cultural safety for Aboriginal children and families

Rationale for Project

 

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) in its report on ‘Closing the Gap’ has identified that the low uptake of early learning programs by Indigenous families has been a particular concern.

The AIHW has also identified that:

  • Children at risk of poor developmental and educational outcomes benefit from attending high-quality education and care programs in the years before school.
  • Helping families and communities to be supportive and effective in their roles in children’s lives is a key protective factor for the early years and a key component in the design and delivery of high-quality, effective early years programs.
  • Uptake of early learning programs by Indigenous families is enhanced by community partnerships, culturally relevant practice that values local Indigenous knowledge, and appropriate training and support.
  • Service delivery approaches that are too narrowly targeted can miss many of the children and families who need support.

Early learning programs that do not reflect the culture and knowledge of the Indigenous community are not seen as culturally safe and tend not to be used by families in that community.

Project Outcomes

  • Increase participation rates of Aboriginal children and families in early years services and programs
  • Create ‘soft entry’ points for Aboriginal children and families to engage with early years services and programs
  • Build linkages between early years services and programs and Aboriginal children, families and the community.
  • Enhance the capacity of early years services and programs to be culturally safe for Aboriginal children and families.

Project Actions

  • Work with mainstream providers to review current approaches (by early year’s services and programs) to (1) engaging Aboriginal children and families and (2) providing culturally safe services and programs.
  • Support the development of outreach models and approaches utilised by early years services and programs so that they provide better access for Aboriginal children and families.
  • Develop and promote activities that engage Aboriginal children and families and provide the opportunity for Aboriginal children and families to meet the providers of early years services and programs.

For more information contact:

Geoffrey West
Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative
Aboriginal Early Years Access Worker
e: geoffrey.west@bdac.com.au
p: 03 54 424947