Early childhood programs and services for Aboriginal children

Early childhood programs, services and funding for Koorie children and their families.

Koorie Families as First Educators

Koorie Families as First Educators (KFFE) supports Koorie families to provide a strong foundation for their children’s early learning and development by delivering high-quality, culturally responsive evidence-based parenting support programs (pre-birth to school age).

KFFE funding is available until 30 June 2021 and is delivered in the following areas:

  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Latrobe
  • Wodonga
  • Northern Metropolitan areas.

Areas were identified with high numbers of Koorie children in out-of-home care and limited early childhood service provision. 

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) in identified areas deliver KFFE by employing and supporting Koorie educators to work with parents/carers to build the capacity of Koorie families to support their children’s early learning and development.

Koorie Supported Playgroups

Koorie Supported Playgroups (KSP) aim to build the confidence and skills of Koorie parents and carers, as well as enhance parenting support networks and the home learning environment. KSPs also develop speech, cognitive development, social skills and emotional resilience of Koorie children.

KSP funding is available until 30 June 2021 and is delivered in the following areas:

  • Shepparton
  • Mildura
  • Swan Hill
  • South East and South West Metropolitan areas.

These areas have been identified areas of high need with limited access to services.

ACCOs deliver KSP by employing and professionally supporting Koorie educator/s to deliver programs that build the capacity of Koorie parents/carers to support their children’s early learning and development.

Koorie In Home Support/Home-Based Learning

Koorie In Home Support/Home-Based Learning (Koorie IHS/HBL) is available to all families with children identified as Aboriginal and aged from pre-birth up to school entry.

The purpose of Koorie IHS/HBL is to build parent capacity and wellbeing to produce a positive impact on the early learning and development of their children through programs that are evidence-based and culturally safe. The program focuses on child outcomes, as facilitated by their parents.

In particular, Koorie IHS/HBL is funded by the Department to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Aboriginal children have improved learning, development and wellbeing outcomes through increased participation in key early childhood education and care services.
  2. Parents of Aboriginal children have improved parenting skills and confidence, resulting in enhanced parent-child interaction and improved parental wellbeing and functioning. This increases parents’ capacity to guide their child’s early learning and development, including a successful transition to kindergarten and school.
  3. Aboriginal families are supported to access other secondary and/or universal supports (community playgroups), and/or more intensive (tertiary) early childhood or specialist services.

Five ACCOs are currently funded to deliver Koorie IHS/HBL:

  • Mildura and District Aboriginal Services (Swan Hill and Mildura)
  • Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Corporation (Bairnsdale)
  • Wathaurong Aboriginal Corporation (Geelong)
  • Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative (Shepparton)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (Melbourne).

Referral to the program may be through the funded ACCO, Community Health, Maternal and Child Health Service, Koori Maternity Service, or other local universal service.

Policy and funding guidelines

Order a hard copy

ACCOs funded for Koorie IHS/HBL can request additional copies online through their regional contacts.

Reform of Koorie IHS/HBL

Following an evaluation in 2013-14, Koorie IHS/HBL underwent a major reform initiative from 2016 to 2018.

The reform of Koorie IHS/HBL culminated in a refreshed approach to the delivery of parenting support to Koorie families. In February 2018, following extensive consultation with ACCOs, Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) and within the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Koorie In Home Support/Home Based Learning Program and Funding Guidelines 2.0 were released, grounded in evidence-based and culturally safe approaches to service delivery for Koorie parents.

Reform of Koorie IHS/HBL also resulted in a revival of the artwork (by Stephen Hall) created for the program in 2009. Key documentation for Koorie IHS/HBL now uses this artwork which illustrates the following story:

artwork by stephen hall - explained in copyIn the top corner of the design is a Koorie child with their parents. The circles depict the pathways for this child to develop strong emotional and physical wellbeing. The eight circles represent support from:

  1. Koorie IHS/HBL
  2. Koori Maternity Services
  3. Maternal and Child Health
  4. Best Start
  5. Playgroups
  6. Childcare
  7. Kindergarten
  8. Smooth transitions to school.

The hands grow as the child goes through the pathways and represent the educational development of the child.

Contact us

For more information about early childhood services for Koorie families (including kindergarten programs):

  • contact your local council
  • call the Koorie education coordinator at your regional office.