Working Together to Ensure Equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in the Early Years

Early Childhood Australia and SNAICC—National Voice for our Children have released a joint position paper: Working Together to Ensure Equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in the Early Years.

Endorsed by more than forty leading child welfare, education and research organisations, it calls on governments to ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children receive quality early learning and family support.

The position paper draws from the discussion paper, Ensuring equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years, prepared by SNAICC—National Voice for our Children, and Early Childhood Australia.

The position paper highlights the key issues that impede First Nations children from accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC), and provides recommendations for improving outcomes.

In 2015, over 40 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children presented at their first year of school as developmentally vulnerable according to the Australian Early Development Census—that’s twice the rate of vulnerability of other children.

And yet, we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are only half as likely to attend a Child Care Benefit approved early childhood service than non-indigenous children.

The joint position paper by ECA and SNAICC urges the Commonwealth Government to work alongside state and territory governments to take these actions:

  1. Establish new early childhood development targets to close the gap in the AEDC domains by 2030, and an accompanying strategy—through the Closing the Gap refresh
  2. Commit to permanently fund universal access to high-quality early education for three- and four-year-olds, including additional funding to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children get access to a minimum of three days per week of high-quality preschool, with bachelor-qualified teachers.
  3. Invest in quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled integrated early years services, through a specific early education program, with clear targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and high levels of disadvantage.

We, and the other organisations that have endorsed this position paper, are passionate about ensuring that First Nations children get equal opportunities in Australia, thrive and be recognised and supported within their cultures. Action needs to be taken to make sure that Australia improves our support for First Nations children to give them the best start in life.

Endorsing organisations

Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Inc • Australian Community Children’s Services • Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) • Australian Library and Information Association • Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) • Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY) • Brotherhood of St Laurence • Central Australian Aboriginal Congress • Child Australia • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) • Coolabaroo Neighbourhood Centre • Early Learning and Care Council of Australia • Early Learning Association Australia • Families Australia • Family Matters – Strong communities. Strong culture. Stronger children • Future Tracks • Goodstart Early Learning • Group of Eight (Go8) • Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney • KU Children’s Services • Lady Gowrie Childhood Education Queensland • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) • Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity, Murdoch University • Nikinpa Aboriginal Child & Family Centre • Oxfam Australia • Playgroup Australia • Professor Fiona Stanley • Professor Larissa Behrendt • Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) • Reconciliation Australia • Save the Children • Speech Pathology Australia • Telethon Kids Institute • The Benevolent Society • The Front Project • The Parenthood • UNICEF • UnitingCare Australia • Uniting Communities • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) • Victorian Aboriginal Children & Young People’s Alliance • Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) • World Vision Australia • Yorganop