Supporting Aboriginal children and their families

​Early childhood programs and services for Aboriginal children and their families.

Early childhood programs and services

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:

  • 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 cares, 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.

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.

Childcare and kindergarten

There are a number of childcare and preschool services that have been established for Koorie children and families that are operated by and for the Aboriginal community.

Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services

Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS) are designed to meet the educational, social and developmental needs of Aboriginal children. These services provide long day care and at least one other form of child care or activity, such as a kindergarten program, outside school hours care, playgroups, nutrition programs and/or parenting programs to the community.

  • Berrimba,  94 Hare Street, Echuca. Phone: 5481 1900
  • Gunai Lidj, 5 Buckley Street, Morwell. Phone: 5136 5147 or 5136 5128
  • Lulla Children and Family Centre, 42 Harold Street, Shepparton. Phone: 5831 5479
  • Robinvale, 87 Latje Road, Robinvale. Phone: 5051 8950
  • Bung Yarnda, Rules Road, Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust. Phone: 5156 5718
  • Yappera, 2 Watt Street, Thornbury. Phone: 9416 8787

Aboriginal child and family centres

Victoria has two Aboriginal child and family centres in the City of Whittlesea and in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland. The centres provide early childhood and family support services, including long day care, kindergarten for three and four-year-old Koorie children, visiting Maternal and Child Health nurses, counsellors, midwives and other universal services.

Bubup Wilam Early Learning Children and Family Centre
76 Main Street, Thomastown
Phone: 8459 4800
Bubup Wilam website 

Dala Yooro
37-53 Dalmahoy Street, Bairnsdale VIC 3875
Phone: 03 5150 0700
Dala Yooro website 

Kindergarten programs

Koorie children can access two years of a funded kindergarten program prior to starting school. This funding is available in all kindergartens and long day care centres where a kindergarten program is delivered by a qualified teacher.

Both four year old (year before school) and three year old Koorie children can access 15 hours a week of these kindergarten programs at no cost. Kindergarten for three year old Koorie children is called Early Start Kindergarten. To be eligible, children must be at least three years old by 30 April in the year that they are attending kindergarten. Children attending year before school kindergarten may also be eligible for the kindergarten fee subsidy.

For more information about kindergarten programs:

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

Koorie engagement support officers

Koorie engagement support officers (KESOs) are employed by the Department to support Koorie families in accessing services and supports to ensure the best start in life for Koorie children, from birth to school completion.

KESOs provide advice and practical support to services that provide funded kindergarten programs. They build the capacity of these services to deliver programs that are respectful of the cultural beliefs and practices of Koorie children by, for example:

  • increasing and enhancing the Koorie children's participation in kindergarten
  • promoting the values of kindergarten programs within Koorie families and communities
  • promoting cultural awareness and providing access to relevant resources for the delivery of all kindergarten programs.

You can contact your KESO through your regional office.

Koorie preschool assistants

Koorie preschool assistants work out of local community-based organisations.

They work with services delivering kindergarten programs to:

  • enhance the access and participation of Koorie children in kindergarten programs
  • promote and assist in the delivery of kindergarten programs that are inclusive of Koorie children
  • support the attendance of Koorie children who are enrolled in kindergarten programs
  • encourage the involvement and participation of Koorie parents, families and carers in the development of kindergarten programs.

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

Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026

Marrung: Aboriginal education plan 2016-2026 (Marrung) is the Department’s ten year plan, spanning the early childhood, schools, and training and skills sectors, to support improved outcomes for Koorie learners.