SNAICC welcomes funding to improve First Nations access to ECEC
SNAICC has welcomed a recent announcement of $120 million worth of funding issued by the Federal Government to improve access to quality early childhood education for First Nations children.
The advocacy group especially welcomed the expansion of the Connected Beginnings program into 27 additional sites across Australia in a bid to support the integration of early childhood education, health, development and family support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the group looked forward to working alongside the Australian Government to ensure Connected Beginnings achieves strong outcomes through service delivery that is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led.
“This major new investment is critical for supporting our young children and families. Under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, we have an opportunity to work differently to achieve the best outcomes for our kids,” she added.
The Australian Government has also announced a $30 million expansion of the Community Child Care Fund Restricted Program to fund up to 20 additional childcare services in remote communities, with the majority managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. This program provides much needed financial support for services that are not viable under Child Care Subsidy funding.
“This is a great start to increase early childhood development support delivered through our community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years services,” Ms Liddle added.
Achieving the Closing the Gap target to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on track against the Australian Early Development Census to 55 per cent by 2031 will require a major shift in early education and development programs for First Nations children, SNAICC noted.
“While we are pleased to see the government moving in the right direction, we know that the Child Care Subsidy funding model isn’t working for our services and families across the country, so we are still waiting to see more fundamental reforms that are needed to that system.”
The announcement by Minister Wyatt and Minister Tudge also included $9 million funding from the Commonwealth Government to replicate the Early Years Education Program in four sites. This program uses a multi-disciplinary approach that offers high quality early education and care, infant mental health and family support, and is delivered in partnership with families and local community organisations.
SNAICC welcomed the commitment to fund the Early Years Education Program, urging the Government to ensure that it provides opportunities for First Nations communities and organisations to lead and adapt the model so that it is grounded in cultural strengths such as nurturing children and supporting families.
“This program has the potential to strengthen the already great work our Aboriginal community-controlled services are delivering, with a focus on intensive wraparound support that is vital for our children and families,” Ms Liddle said.