Early years support for First Nations kids

June 28, 2024 BY

For the next gen: Member for Ballarat Catherine King, Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative CEO Karen Heap celebrate the announcement alongside six-year-old Rory (left). Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

BALLARAT and District Aboriginal Cooperative will establish a new site to support three-hundred-and-fifty First Nations children aged zero to five, and their families.

BADAC has received $1.8 million from the Federal Government’s Connected Beginnings program to provide childhood health, education, and family services.

The aim of the new site is to help children reach their developmental and learning markers so they can easily transition to primary school.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly was in Sebastopol at BADAC’s Yirram Burron Early Learning Centre to announce the funding last week.

“All children, no matter their background or where they live, should be able to access the transformational benefits of quality early childhood education and care,” she said. “The program is delivering significant positive results for First Nations children, we’re already seeing an increase in the hours of early childhood education and care along with an increase in preschool enrolments.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly speaking at Yirram Burron Early Learning Centre, Sebastopol last week.


“The structure of Connected Beginnings means that each community is empowered to design and deliver the program in a way which supports their individual needs and aspirations.”

BADAC CEO Karen Heap said the organisation and its educators are delighted.

“This Connected Beginnings funding will improve the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, to enhance better outcomes from pregnancy right through to school age,” she said.

SNAICC National Voice for our Children and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation partner with the Federal Governto deliver Connected Beginnings projects.

“BADAC’s experience in delivering early childhood programs and family support services, along with their record in building strong community networks, gives them a strong foundation to build a program informed by local knowledge,” said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle.

“Under Connected Beginnings, more Aboriginal children in the Ballarat region will have access to culturally safe integration of services such as maternal and child health, early childhood education and care and family support services.

“They will get the support they need to ensure they have a successful transition to big school.”