SUBJECTS: Connected Beginnings program, Early education benefits for First Nations children.
CONNOR MALLIS, HOST: On Triple M, Connor for Breakfast with you this morning. And I'm currently joined on the line by the Minister of Early Education and Youth, the Honourable Dr Anne Aly. Good morning to you.
MINISTER ANNE ALY: Morning, Connor. How you going?
MALLIS: Doing very well. Now, we're having a chat today about Connected Beginnings and some of the benefits we've seen with the First Nations childrens. Rather than me talk about it, I thought we'd get you on and have a chat about it. Can you tell us some of the benefits?
ALY: Oh, this is a great benefit to what we found for First Nations children. So, we've got a Connected Beginnings site in Kalgoorlie. It's one of 50 that we hope to set up by 2025. We're well on our way to achieving that goal, I think we're up to about 38 now. And what it does is it brings together all of those services that children need to do well and to thrive. So, parenting, early childhood education, maternal health, speechies and occupational therapy, all of the services altogether to wrap around the child.
And what we found with this, particularly in Aboriginal communities and for First Nations children is it really improves their school readiness going into school, which is one of the Closing the Gap targets, because we know that participation in – and when children go to early childhood education and care, they do actually have better outcomes at school and actually right throughout their life, right through into adulthood.
So, these Connected Beginnings sites right across Australia have helped hundreds of children. The one in Kal has the potential to help around 300 little ones over there, focusing specifically on Aboriginal communities, working directly with, on the ground with Aboriginal communities and doing things in the way that is appropriate for them.
MALLIS: Beautiful. And how long has this programme been running here in the Goldfields and I guess around Australia as well?
ALY: So, in the Goldfields – one in the Goldfields has been running for three years. Some of the centres have – community beginning sites have opened up recently. So, I was in Geraldton, in Gero a few months ago, opening one up in Gero. So, we're opening them up to get to that point of having 50 right across Australia by 2025. But the one in the Goldfields has been going for three years.
MALLIS: Beautiful. And obviously some of these things take time to obviously push through, get the message out there. If people are interested in hearing this right now, if they want to support it or maybe they want to get their kids involved in it, how do they do so?
ALY: They can call the Education Department, they can call my office. We're really keen to have as many First Nations children as possible go through these Connected Beginnings programs. And one of the things about them is that we have been developing these and working directly with Aboriginal communities on the ground with this, and it just shows what you can achieve when you work together and when you listen and work in partnership with Aboriginal communities.
Because I remember up – when I was doing the one in Geraldton, and I was talking about how it's all about bringing all the services together and wrapping around the child, and the journalist there said, “Oh, this is a really novel and new way of doing things, isn't it?” And I said, “No, actually. No, it's not.” This is an ancient and traditional way of doing things. You come – all the services come together. It's that whole concept of “It takes a village to raise a child.” And these are traditional Aboriginal practices in raising children. So, when we listen, when we work with First Nations people on the ground, we get better results.
MALLIS: Absolutely, and it's great that you can have all these services, as you said, in one place that they can access to, because sometimes in regional towns access to these facilities, it is difficult.
ALY: Oh, absolutely. We all know that if you take your child to school or to early childhood education, that's the best place where you can get into contact with other parents or other services. So, having them all in the one location, and having them all working together hand in hand, and having that approach of wrapping around a child works. Because if your health is good, your education outcomes are good. If your education outcomes are good, it has an impact on health. So, all of these things are so intertwined together.
MALLIS: Well, I mean, that's absolutely fantastic that we've heard some great news coming from these First Nations childrens through the Connected Beginnings program, and great to see we've got plenty more around the state as well.
The Minister of Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth joins me, Anne Aly. Unfortunately, all the time we have for you on Triple M this morning but thank you so much for joining me.
ALY: Pleasure to speak with you, Connor, and I look forward to speaking with you again.