National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood strategy announced

by Freya Lucas

April 22, 2021

The voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families will be instrumental in the development of a new national strategy that will ensure their children have the opportunities for the best start in life, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has announced. 


NIAA are working in partnership with SNAICC – National Voice for our Children to develop the strategy which will support children to grow up happy, healthy, strong and thriving in their early years by providing a long-term, re-focused approach to policy and investment. 


The co-design process opened earlier this week, with both agencies seeking input to ensure the Strategy “meaningfully reflects the views, experiences and expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, service delivery organisations and other key experts.”


“This is a child-focused strategy,” co-Chair of the Strategy Advisory Group Debbie Mitchell explained. 


“It will ensure a long-term approach to refocus policy and investment and enable stronger collaboration and coordination across whole of government, the early childhood system and, most importantly, with families and children.” 


It is hoped that, with the right policy shifts and investment in community-led approaches, the early childhood strategy will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to bring children up “healthy, strong, and proud in culture,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.


“The first years of a child’s life, from conception to when they start school, is crucial. Healthy development, wellbeing and economic security impacts on our children’s opportunities,” she added. 


“We know that our children thrive when grounded in their identity, language and cultural lore and traditions, and that our people know what is best for their wellbeing. The Strategy is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to influence how our policies and services are delivered on the ground.” 


An extensive engagement process is underway to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and caregivers a strong voice in developing the early childhood strategy. 


SNAICC is partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to work closely with children and families about ways to help our young children to stay strong in culture, and be happy, healthy, safe, and ready for school. 


“Giving our communities a voice in the design of the new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy will build better, more responsive services, so that our children can grow up strong.” Ms Liddle said, encouraging families, service providers, academics, researchers and other experts to engage in the consultation. 


“With your shared aspirations, experiences and expertise, the Strategy will make a positive difference to children’s lives,” Ms Mitchell said in closing. 


For more information about the process, and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can have their voice heard, please see here.