Early Childhood Education Minister Jenny Mikakos visited BADAC last week. She is pictured with CEO Karen Heap and President Marjorie Pickford.

JENNY Mikakos Minister for Families and Children and Early Childhood Education visited the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative, one of five organisations that will run the new $3.9 million Koorie Families as First Educators initiative.

As part of this initiative, two Koorie educators at five sites in Ballarat, Bendigo, Latrobe Valley, Wodonga and Melbourne’s north will work with Aboriginal families on parenting programs that support their children’s learning and development from pre-birth to school age.

An additional $1.51 million will deliver Koorie Supported Playgroups in five locations across Victoria – Shepparton, Mildura, Swan Hill, and west and south-east Melbourne.

Each playgroup will be supported by a dedicated worker employed through an Aboriginal organisation and help parents build their confidence, skills and support networks, and help children with speech and cognitive development, and social skills.

The Labor Government has improved Aboriginal participation rates in kinders, which now sits at 94 per cent.

The Government is transferring case management responsibility for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care to Aboriginal organisations.

To support this transition, the Government announced $1.1 million last year to enable 120 Aboriginal children living in kinship care across the state to be case managed by Aboriginal organisations.

A number of Aboriginal children have already had their case management transferred to the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative.

These initiatives are part of the Labor Government’s Roadmap for Reform: Strong families, Safe children and Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026, and are consistent with the principle of selfdetermination.

They recognise programs delivered by Aboriginal organisations to Aboriginal families are most effective in improving outcomes for babies and children.

These initiatives also support the landmark $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan, which recognises the importance of giving families support in early childhood so kids are ready for kinder and school.

“Closing the gap starts with giving Koorie children the best possible start in life – we want them ready for kinder, ready for school and ready for life,” Ms Mikakos said.

“Quality education and care is what every young child deserves – we’re investing more to support them in these crucial stages of their life, so they’re ready for kinder, ready for school and ready for life.” “When we came to government we committed to the principles of self determination, strengthening the role and the influence of aboriginal people, communities and organisations and today I am pleased to be able to launch four different initiatives in partnership with the aboriginal community to improve outcomes for aboriginal children and young people, particularly to focus on those that relate to early years.

“We need to start working and supporting families and supporting children from birth to school age.”