Research grant to support young Indigenous children as they move into early education

Research grant to support young Indigenous children as they move into early education

by Freya Lucas

September 02, 2020

A Charles Darwin University project that aims to build on the strong cultural foundation of young Indigenous children as they move into early education has received an Australian Government Indigenous Research Exchange grant of almost $200,000.


“Understanding pathways to support Yolŋu children and families to achieve strong learning in two systems” is a collaboration between Indigenous communities, and educational and research partners, Associate Professor Elaine Läwurrpa Maypilama explained.


For the duration of the project Yolŋu (North-Eastern Arnhem Aboriginal) families, educators and researchers will work together to address community priorities.


“Balanda (non-Aboriginal people), need to recognise that there is a Yolŋu education pathway,” Dr Maypilama said. “Yolŋu children have a strong cultural foundation when they move into early childhood programs. And Yolŋu family want to understand the Balanda education systems that are coming into our community.”


Given that Balanda systems are foreign to the Yolŋu community, without a clear direction and support system, some children could feel lost and families could find it hard to support their children.


“That makes it hard for Yolŋu children to learn,” Dr Maypilama said. “But we want to connect the family and the school to create a good foundation, then I think the children will lead up to that higher education. We will work together in this research to make their pathway stronger.”  


Professor Anne Lowell from the Northern Institute said the project would build on extensive recent research, and consultations to facilitate more effective engagement between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to identify sustainable systems and processes for knowledge exchange and application.


“This project will use a participatory action approach with cultural experts, elders, families, children, educators and researchers utilising successful methods built over many years of collaborative work between Yolŋu and non-Indigenous researchers in areas of education and health,” she said.


“Working together, the project aims to strengthen support for Yolŋu children to build on their strong cultural foundation as they move into early childhood programs and school.”


For more information about the project, please see here