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Issue #1628      February 26, 2014

“Our kids, our way, their future”

The Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Incorporated (AECSL Inc) is a peak advisory body on early childhood for Aboriginal children, families and the Aboriginal community. It works to ensure that Aboriginal communities have a strong and ongoing voice in how early years programs and services are designed and delivered, with all programs focusing on the diverse strengths of the child, family and community.

With Aboriginal children the major focus of all decision making processes, AECSL aims to build the capacity of Aboriginal families, Early Childhood professionals and community members. It stresses the importance of doing it “our way, always respecting cultural protocols, and the uniqueness of each child, family and community for their future”. It believes that local Aboriginal communities are best placed to understand the local needs of their families and children.

“AECSL Inc will provide support for OUR KIDS, and will promote culturally appropriate development and learning approaches for the early childhood sector OUR WAY, and will value the importance of community capacity building and community engagement for THEIR FUTURE,” the organisation says on its website.

The AECSL Inc five year Strategic Plan will ensure that all Aboriginal children and their families are fully engaged in the design and delivery of early years programs and have equal access to services that promote child and family welfare, safety and wellbeing.

 It does this by working in partnership with representatives from early year’s stakeholders, community partners and all levels of government, Aboriginal parents and researchers.

Angela Webb is the President AECSL. She was one of the speakers at the “Stop Abbott, Save Medicare,” rally in Sydney on Saturday February 15. The AECSL is one of many community organisations on the receiving end of the Abbott Coalition’s cuts. The following is her speech to the rally:

I am very concerned about the $6 Medicare fee – it’s an assault on the most vulnerable in Australian society just like Abbott’s proposed cuts to Aboriginal services.

I am president of AECSL, Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Inc, the only Aboriginal managed organisation providing support and advocacy in early childhood in NSW. It has operated for over 20 years.

AECSL’s motto is: “Aboriginal early childhood – our kids, our way, their future”.

In mid-December last year, AECSL was notified by the Commonwealth that their funding would cease on December 31, 13 days before the date.

How could any government treat any organisation in this way?

The Commonwealth and state governments say they are committed to closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in health and education.

Commonwealth action suggests that they are washing their hands of Indigenous early childhood education.

Quality early childhood for Aboriginal children is an essential foundation for educational success. To be successful early childhood services must be responsible to needs of Aboriginal children and their cultural contexts.

AECSL supports and advocates for early childhood education for Aboriginal children and families in NSW.

Without AECSL support many services are vulnerable. Already AECSL has cancelled the major professional development conference for 2014. Over 300 community people, including staff and management, have benefited in the past from this activity.

The Annual Report on Closing the Gap progress released this week indicated some mixed outcomes for Indigenous children. There are positive early signs on preschool enrolments but progress on reading, writing and numeracy targets is poor. Early childhood years are the foundation for literacy and numeracy, critical to Aboriginal children.

In 2014, AECSL with Macquarie University is implementing a professional program to support numeracy and science education for Aboriginal children. This too is threatened if AECSL closes its doors.

Tony Abbot said of the Closing the Gap targets, that “Our challenge is to turn good intentions into better outcomes”. Tony Abbot is clearly lacking good intentions for early childhood for Aboriginal children and families.

AECSL needs you to advocate with governments to sustain its activity in NSW. Look to our Facebook page or website for ways you can give support.

Everybody needs to fight the assault on quality early childhood for Aboriginal children.

NB: AECSL is still awaiting the last release of funds from the Commonwealth (it has been promised) and expects to continue to operate for some months offering its support and advocacy services while attempting to secure an alternative funding source for its sustainability. There will be a social media campaign in February/March with information on Facebook and their webpage: aecsl.org.au

Next article – Powerful interests mobilise to end anti-Cuban blockade

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