Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s opportunities to thrive in their early years is foundational to improving outcomes across their life course. Evidence is clear that pathways to healthy development, educational success, wellbeing and economic security are set in the first years from conception to when a child begins formal schooling. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, these early years are vitally important years for sharing and passing on the richness and strengths of the world’s oldest continuing cultures. Grounding children in the pride and strength of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities, languages and cultural law and traditions forms the bedrock for success throughout their lives.
In consideration of the impacts of COVID-19, a phased approach to the development of the strategy has been undertaken. The first phase is the delivery of this evidence-based framework. Over the coming months, this framework will be used to inform engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years services, experts, families and children, to develop the strategy in 2021.
The framework encompasses current evidence across all aspects of young children’s lives, including early learning, health, disability, wellbeing, care, and development. It identifies that improving outcomes requires a coordinated, whole of governments, and whole of community response to children’s needs. This response must span fields including maternal and child health, housing, early education and care, disability, family, and parenting supports, ensuring child and family safety, and promoting cultural identity development. It must also seek to align cross portfolio investments to address early development holistically.