Engaging families and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's access and participation in early childhood education.
Over 95% (5,637) of kindergarten-aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were enrolled in a kindergarten program in 2019, up from 26% in 2008 and 90% in 2018.
Across 10 Early Years Place locations, nearly 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children participated in early learning and development activities in the first 6 months of 2020. Early Years Places are welcoming locations providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families' access to a range of early childhood activities and support for their parents and carers.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families continued to have access to
Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme (QKFS+) to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for kindergarten.
Through 100 programs in select remote or discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; state-delivered kindergarten supported nearly 700 children, including approximately 490 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
In the first 6 months of 2020, over 130 children engaged in the Deadly Kindies program, and over 110 subsequently participated in kindergarten. Deadly Kindies is a joint initiative of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Department of Education, designed to improve kindergarten participation and early learning opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Toowoomba and Cunnamulla Aboriginal communities collaborated to develop the song Footprints to embrace local kindergarten participation. As a result of this success, a new Let's yarn about kindy campaign will be co-designed with community in Far North Queensland to promote kindergarten participation.
The Indigenous Remote Support Coordination program and Grow Our Own program continued in 2020, providing study support to enable educators to achieve nationally approved Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) qualifications.
In 2020, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood educators enrolled to achieve early childhood qualifications at Certificate / Diploma level through the RATEP (Remote area teacher education program), a community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education program.
Since 2017, the number of early childhood education and care staff members identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander has increased by over 13% to more than 1,400 in 2020.
State delivered kindergarten teachers were provided with professional development to support delivery of a culturally responsive kindergarten learning program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Community song leaves a footprint on kindy participation
Embracing the importance of culture, language and community, the song Footprints was produced as part of the Let's yarn about kindy campaign, to embrace kindergarten participation in the Toowoomba and Cunnamulla communities.
Community leaders and Elders in Toowoomba and Cunnamulla co-wrote the song, using local languages of Toowoomba and Cunnamulla, to help revive first languages in these communities and continue to pass them on to younger generations.
The Toowoomba verse, Boo Row Ar (Footprints) was written and performed in the language of the Jarowair, Giabul and Western Wakka Wakka peoples.
The Cunnamulla verse, Gundoos (Children) uses the Kooma, Kullilli, Kunja, Budjiti, Badjari, Murrawarri and Mardigan peoples' language.
Shandell Washington, who was born in Cunnamulla and now lives in Toowoomba, sings both verses in first languages, and her daughter, Annabell sings the English verse.
Deadly Kindies supports families
Deadly Kindies is a partnership between the Queensland Department of Education and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.
The Deadly Kindies campaign and school readiness pilot are designed to improve engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families, to raise awareness of the importance of kindergarten to support and increase their participation and successful transition to kindergarten.
In response to COVID-19, a weekly Deadly Kindies livestream commenced in April 2020 to support families. It received very positive feedback and thousands of views each episode. A number of early childhood services and kindergartens participated and submitted photos and videos of the activities completed by children to the Deadly Kindies Facebook page.
Deadly Choices Ambassador Johnathan Thurston helped to launch the Deadly Kindies program at Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kindergarten.