On Wednesday, the Federal Government, in cooperation with SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, announced the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

SNAICC is the national peak body representing the interests of Indigenous children and families.

The Strategy forms a long-term framework for strengthened collaboration in improving early childhood outcomes, which Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt states respond to the need for greater cooperation between jurisdictions and service providers.

“The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development,” Minister Wyatt said.

The Strategy’s focus on early learning, health, housing, safety, disability, the sector workforce and cultural connections “sets the vision that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born healthy and remain strong, are nurtured by strong families and thrive in their early years”.

Its centred on children and building on the Closing the Gap agreement, including the $123 million Early Childhood Package previously announced, also includes a $9.1 million investment to support SNAICC’s Intermediary Services Support Pilot.

Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert, commented that this pilot will improve quality and increase access to training and development for Indigenous educators.

“Co-investment is being sought from state and territory governments to support the Pilot, to further strengthen community organisations and provide greater access to quality early childhood education so children are school-ready,” remarked Minister Robert.

Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston, further spoke to the ability of the Strategy to reduce Indigenous over-representation in children in out-of-home care.

“The strategy will also work alongside the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031 which is a 10 year whole-of-nation framework launching today that will drive change through collective effort across all areas that support children, young people and families in need,” she said.

“Together in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we can develop community-led solutions to on-the-ground challenges.”

SNAICC welcomed the National Strategy, and CEO Catherine Liddle believes there is “movement in the right direction” and that the strategy opens opportunities to work across sectors and with governments and territories to build a strong early years platform.

Chair of SNAICC, Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett further believes that this “stands as a blueprint” in working with Indigenous communities to continue what has been happening for millennia “every day for our children”.

Professor Bamblett hopes the connection of children to “culture and Country is maintained so that they are able to continue with the songlines and the stories of our ancestors for generations to come”.

“Indigenous-led solutions will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people have every opportunity to live happy and healthy lives, strong in their culture and identity.”

By Aaron Bloch