Case study

Service intergration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood development: a multiple case study from New South Wales and Queensland

Indigenous children Aboriginal Australian youth Aboriginal community controlled organisations Early childhood development Indigenous child protection New South Wales Queensland

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in early education and care occurs in the context of federal government policy and programs, as well as state/territory government policy and programs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and early years services are impacted by a number of government policies and frameworks that have changed over time. These changes reflect a variety of policy goals and approaches as well as shifting priorities.

Key findings:

  • There remains limited acknowledgement of the diverse cultural conceptions and responsibilities of Aboriginal leadership and how these intersect and align with nonIndigenous understandings and experiences.
  • The review of two case studies suggests that reorienting service systems to respond to the needs of children and families can support community empowerment, leadership and self-determination (control) provided the programs are well resourced (with resources going to the right places; longer term funding is aligned to an organisational strategy and where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are engaged for longer-term contracts and are supported to transition into leadership) and where the leadership and governance structures allows/prioritises community accountabilities.
  • In addition to intended outcomes, positive impact on learning, social and emotional wellbeing is a major benefit of the two centres as they clearly support the development of social support networks and social connection for children and families, which is considered crucial considering the evidence relating to the importance of belonging, connectedness and identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
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