Partnership boosts early learning and care in Warlpiri communities

A partnership between the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT), the Central Land Council (CLC) and World Vision Australia will boost the care and education of children in the Tanami region over the next three years.

WETT was set up in 2004 by the Kurra Aboriginal Corporation to utilise a portion of mining royalties to fund education and training programs in the Warlpiri region.

Today WETT, World Vision Australia and the CLC have launched the Early Childhood Care and Development program, which will focus on five key areas – life skills development and parenting support, resource development, capacity building, governance and promoting best practice.

The program aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children aged 0-5 years by building a foundation for children to reach their social, intellectual, spiritual and physical needs through the support of parents and carers and better early childhood services. It will see local Aboriginal community members trained as childcare workers, the development of educational toys and other resources and the provision of governance training.

An initial $600,000 of royalty money from The Granites Callie agreement, negotiated with Newmont Asia Pacific, has been provided to fund the partnership by the WETT Trustee, the Kurra Aboriginal Corporation. Following a successful first year of the program, a further $1 million in WETT funding is likely to follow over the next two years.

World Vision Australia is funding a project manager to oversee the program with the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs funding a project facilitator to carry out on-the-ground work.

The Central Land Council, which supports Kurra to administer the Trust, has assisted in the development of the partnership by ensuring that it reflects local aspirations and priorities and continues to have strong local input from communities and other relevant stakeholders.

WETT is just one of several innovative projects being implemented by the CLC’s Community Development unit to generate sustainable development in Central Australian communities.

CLC director David Ross praised the participants in the partnership and especially the Warlpiri people for again committing their own money to provide services that are desperately needed in these remote areas.

“We’ve seen many times now the traditional owners in the Tanami region putting their royalty money into long-lasting benefits for the whole region rather than personal gain,” Mr Ross said.

“Often the projects they are funding are things that people in other parts of the country are provided with by government.

“Here we see the Warlpiri people taking the lead and doing things for themselves. Forming a partnership with World Vision Australia and attracting Government funding is a smart move towards ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program.

“I also congratulate World Vision Australia for bringing their expertise and resources to the Early Childhood Care and Development program. Their knowledge in developing the long-term capacity of communities will provide invaluable support to this important WETT program,” Mr Ross said.

World Vision Australia’s chief executive officer Tim Costello said its programs in Australia were partnership based and designed to ensure that project outcomes reflected community priorities.

“Decades of development experience globally has taught us that the best results are achieved when we build long term collaborative relationships with communities, grow their existing strengths and enable them to become self-sufficient.

“World Vision Australia is currently working with Indigenous communities nationally on projects related to capacity building, reconciliation, youth development, home ownership, governance and leadership and early childhood care and development,” Mr Costello said.

“Our involvement has been through invitation by Indigenous communities and the community members are actively involved in all stages of project development, implementation and review.

“This early childhood care and development project is an important initiative that supports our mandate to work with children, families and communities so they can live life in all its fullness,” he said.

WETT Committee Member Marlkirdi Napaljarri Rose said Warlpiri people are really excited about the early childhood program.

“It gives our children a good chance to learn and grow strong from when they are babies right through until school,” she said.

“It’s also a good support for parents and an opportunity for Warlpiri people to get training and employment.”

Already a number of projects have begun including nutrition, cooking and food information sessions with women at Nyirripi, a playgroup at Willowra staffed by local women and supported by World Vision Australia, a playgroup and crèche in Nyirripi and an education program highlighting the positive role men play in children's lives.

WETT is also funding a range of other important programs including youth and media community learning centres and provides support for community schools, including bilingual materials and funding for country visits.

Five key areas of focus for the Early Childhood Care and Development Program

  1. Life skills development and parenting support
    Training sessions will be delivered to support parents, people planning to become parents and those already with children. It will not only focus on the wellbeing of the child, but also the physical and emotional welfare of the mother and father.
  2. Resource development
    Resources specifically for children will be developed using the Warlpiri language and/or objects, photos and images from the local environment. They will be in the form of books, puzzles, DVDs, posters and games.
  3. Capacity building
    Focussing on delivering a training curriculum specifically for Warlpiri staff, provided on site at the student’s pace. The demand for early childhood and preschool teachers is expected to increase in coming years providing a career path for trainees. Capacity building will also focus on the administrative requirements, such as effective management, to run a centre. It will build on skills already delivered by the government-funded Indigenous Professional Support Unit and training will be provided by a registered training organisation that will develop a program specifically for the Warlpiri communities.
  4. Governance
    Developing and strengthening new and/or existing committees for the overview and support of early childhood care and development centres. These committees will then be able to provide further guidance to other organisations in the region and make effective decision making for ECCD activities in the communities they represent.
  5. Promoting best practice
    World Vision Australia will appoint a research institution to monitor and document the ECCD process and host conferences and/or workshops to share, reflect and learn about new and best practice in the field.

CLC media officer, Murray Silby
(08) 8951 6216, 0488 984 885;
World Vision Australia media officer, Tamara Blackmore
(03) 9287 2211, 0400 689 714

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