Kirsten Holland , Director, Early Childhood Education, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service brings a diverse educational and professional background, driven to provide quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) options where children thrive. Kirsten has a Master of Education and Bachelor of Teaching. She commenced as a kindy teacher in Brisbane, worked overseas for 14 years as Principal of international schools in Mongolia and Qatar, consultant for the Vietnamese government, and as an early years teacher with the UN. More recently she held positions in senior leadership roles in educational organisations.
A Practice Story: Transferring kindergartens from mainstream to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control (Oral Paper Presentation)
It is well recognised that early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a solid investment in providing young children with the best protective start in life. However, research is limited regarding Indigenous families’ ECEC provider preferences and understanding the greater benefits of community controlled Indigenous allied health providers as transformative change agents who are dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thriving. With a 111-year history, the Creche and Kindergarten Association (C&K) provides early learning to approximately 1,530 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across Queensland. Various approaches have been implemented by C&K, a mainstream provider, to early learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
This paper will briefly critically reflect on those approaches as context, before discussing the drivers, enablers and challenges to the transfer of kindergartens from C&K to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ASTICHS), a large, community controlled primary health care and community service provider operating in South East Queensland. The benefits identified from the transfer are improved learning, health and wellbeing for children through access to high quality, integrated services, direct engagement and relationships with families, resulting in higher levels of trust, better access and supports, and greater cultural immersion and safety.