Today is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) and this year’s theme is ‘My Dreaming, My Future.’ Since its introduction in 1988, this significant national event has celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and highlighted the importance of their inclusion, wellbeing, safety and development.

SNAICC celebration day.

SNAICC explains this year’s theme: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born into stories of their family, culture, and Country. They carry with them the song lines of their ancestors and culture, passed down by generations. Their Dreaming is part of our history, while their futures are their own to shape.”

To mark the day, they are asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children what Dreaming means to them and what their aspirations are for the future.

The Benevolent Society is committed to fostering Reconciliation through our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan and by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through all of our services. We thought today would be a great time to share an update on our partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), which is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Southeast Queensland access NDIS Early Childhood Approach (EC Approach) services.

Theme is My Dreaming My Future

About the partnership

Starting in 2020 as a pilot program, the partnership’s aim is to redress the lack of awareness and equitable access to NDIS support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the region.

Taking into consideration that past policies, practices and history are still impacting First Nations people today, the partnership is supporting clients to connect with culturally-appropriate services, led by our IUIH partnership team who walk with them through the application process for a better experience with less confusion. This helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to only tell their story once, with information sharing provisions in place between the Aboriginal Medical Service and The Benevolent Society where a family agree to this.

2022 update

This year has been another significant one for The Benevolent Society and IUIH collaboration, with the most pleasing news being both organisations have expanded the partnership for 12 months due to the positive impact it is having in Southeast Queensland.

First Nations Woman and Child.

Tarsha Jones, Senior Practitioner in Early Childhood Approach at The Benevolent Society, said: “We’ve grown our footprint in Southeast Queensland by employing another IUIH partnership worker, which means we’re able to assist more families in the region. The rate of NDIS plans being accessed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families through the EC Approach has continued to dramatically grow, in large part due to the cultural practices that have been embedded with all Benevolent Society staff working frontline.”

Once each family has developed a strong relationship with our IUIH worker and understands how to access NDIS funded supports, they are then supported to better understand Early Intervention Best Practice Principals and how they might best use their NDIS plan to support their child’s development.

First Nations Hands.

“The NDIS journey for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children and their families has been streamlined through cultural practices that allow a safe pathway for First Nations families,” says Tarsha. “Many barriers have been reduced. When the partnership started, we had only 20 percent utilisation rate of plans – we now have 80 percent.”