Release type: Joint Media Release


Ensuring First Nations children are school ready


The Hon Dr Anne Aly MP
Minister for Early Childhood Education
Minister for Youth
Senator The Hon Malarndirri McCarthy
Senator for the Northern Territory
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health

The Australian Government is working closely with First Nations communities to ensure children are better prepared for school.

Celebrating National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly today announced the expansion of the Connected Beginnings program with six further sites, supporting an additional 4,500 First Nations children.

New Connected Beginnings projects will be established in:

  • Maryborough (QLD)
  • Hervey Bay (QLD)
  • Cairns (QLD)
  • Bundaberg (QLD)
  • Rockhampton (QLD)
  • Broken Hill (NSW)

The new locations – five in Queensland, and another in New South Wales – will bring the total number of Connected Beginnings sites to 40 across Australia, supporting 16,400 First Nations children.

Delivered in partnership with SNAICC National Voice for our Children and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Connected Beginnings program is a community-led project delivering results.

At existing sites, the average attendance of First Nations children in centre-based care has increased by more than 10 per cent from 2019 to 2022. Additionally, the number of children on track in all five Australian Early Development Census domains has increased.

The program connects First Nations children aged zero to five with a range of early childhood education, health and family support services to help them meet the learning and development milestones necessary to achieve a positive transition to school.

Connected Beginnings is a key contributor to the Closing the Gap early childhood education targets – partnering with First Nations communities in ensuring activities are delivered to First Nations people, in their own places and on their Country.

The funding for the new sites is part of an $81.8 million Government investment to expand the national program to 50 sites by 2025.  

To further ensure First Nations Children are able to access the transformational benefits of quality early childhood education and care, the Government increased the number of hours of subsidised care First Nations children are eligible for to a minimum of 36 hours a fortnight.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Aly

“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.

“Children who access early childhood education do better on key measures throughout life, including improved literacy and numeracy skills, better health outcomes and go on to higher paying jobs.

“The Connected Beginnings program has been structured so that communities are empowered to design and deliver the program in a way which supports their individual needs and aspirations.

“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.” 

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy

“The expansion of Connected Beginnings to new sites means more place-based and community-led efforts to support First Nations children to thrive in their early years.

“The Department of Health and Aged Care and NACCHO are working together to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to participate in the program at all sites and deliver essential activities to improve the health of First Nations children.

“This builds on the important comprehensive health services provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country which empower First Nations people to achieve optimal health outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities.”