Aboriginal Families as Teachers

Program overview

The Aboriginal Families as Teachers (AFaT) program providers work side by side with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families empowering them with skills and resources to support their children’s learning development.

The AFaT program focuses on families with children aged 0-5 and uses strengths-based approaches, centering Aboriginal culture and ways of being to ensure it is culturally appropriate.

Through home visits, playgroups and collaborating with early childhood education services, AFaT is promoting the importance of early childhood education and supporting the developmental outcomes of Aboriginal children.

The expansion of the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program is an initial implementation initiative of the First Steps Aboriginal Children’s Education Strategy. Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to participate in early childhood education, particularly with support from Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, also reflects targets of the Closing the Gap agreement.

Read a review by the Cultural & Indigenous Research Centre supporting the expansion of Aboriginal Families as Teachers.

The program is currently operating in the Local Government Areas of:

  • Berkeley
  • Bourke
  • Brewarrina
  • Broken Hill
  • Cardiff
  • Cobar
  • Collarenbri
  • Culburra
  • Forbes
  • Karuah
  • Lightning Ridge
  • Menindee
  • Mogo
  • Narromind
  • Nowra
  • Nyngan
  • Raymond Terrace
  • Toronto
  • Wallsend
  • Weilmoringle
  • Wickham
  • Wilcannia

Round 2 of the program

Applications for round 2 of funding are open 02 May 2022 - 13 June 2022.

This is the second round of the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program; future rounds will be subject to budget availability.

To provide support to all prospective applicants, we will be holding two information sessions on the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program on:

  • Information Session 1: 22 April 2022, 2.00pm
  • Information Session 2: 27 April 2022, 4.00pm

Please register for these via email at aboriginalprogramseced@det.nsw.edu.au

Program objectives

The program has six core objectives:

  • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to provide developmentally rich home learning environments for young children from birth to five years
  • promote literacy and numeracy rich home learning environments
  • build families’ confidence in their ability to support the healthy development and learning of their children
  • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families for successful transitions to school
  • promote the importance of early childhood education within families and communities, including participation in a quality early childhood education program for 600 hours in the year before school (at a minimum)
  • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s developmental outcomes across all five domains (physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language).

Eligibility criteria

The Aboriginal Families as Teachers Round 1 applications have closed and successful applicants are currently delivering programs across 24 communities within NSW.

To be eligible to apply for Aboriginal Families as Teachers program Round 2, organisations must plan to deliver the program in eligible communities and meet one of the following criteria:

  • be a community based or not-for-profit organisation
  • be an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation or business
  • meet the qualifications requirements listed below for the development and delivery of early childhood education activities under this program.

The current eligible regions for Round 2 include:

  • Murray region
  • Richmond Valley/Tweed region

Applicants will need to confirm that the proposed program activities will be developed by a Certificate III or Diploma qualified early childhood educator, early childhood education teacher, or other person with a relevant tertiary qualification, in order to proceed with the application.

Subject to satisfying the initial eligibility criteria, organisations will then be assessed against the following assessment criteria:

  • previous experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities
  • previous experience working with families with children aged 0-5
  • established links with early childhood education providers in the community in which the program is proposed.

Please note: Existing providers will have the option to expand program deliver to other communities within their local government area or to communities in neighbouring local government areas, and will be required to indicate this in their application.

Priority of funding

The department will assess applications against eligibility criteria, program objectives, application requirements and spending rules.

The department will prioritise applicants who demonstrate alignment with the core objectives of the program, including:

  • Aboriginal community-controlled organisation
  • a substantial Aboriginal component to the organisation
  • demonstrating a strong focus on participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in early childhood education
  • lack of alternative funding sources
  • value for money
  • evidence of community demand for the program, including evidence of participation of children aged birth to five years
  • capacity to employ appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to support the program
  • how a provider will deliver on the objectives of the program but are also responsive to local need
  • that the provider have and will engage and consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities and organisations in the way that they deliver the program
  • other prioritisation categories that reflect emerging needs and are considered to support the purpose and intended outcome of the program.

Application process

Applications for the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program should be submitted through the SmartyGrants online application system. To apply click here.

For more information on how to use SmartyGrants please click here

Applications for Round 2 of this program open 02 May 2022- 13 June 2022.

The department will competitively assess applications and determine funding based on service eligibility, spending rules, program objectives and available funding.

Organisations will be required to demonstrate in the application process that their program contains the following features:

  • structured but flexible to respond to the needs of families, children and the community
  • family-centred
  • strengths-based and culturally appropriate (recognising and building on the strengths of First Nations culture and ways of teaching young children)
  • activities are developed by a Certificate III or Diploma-qualified early childhood educator, early childhood education teacher, or other person with a relevant tertiary qualification
  • facilitates links with early childhood services in the community, including participation in 600 hours of early childhood education in the year before school (at a minimum)
  • engages and sustains partnerships with community stakeholders to support the capacity of families to enhance early development outcomes for children birth to five years
  • where appropriate given the geographical context, social service infrastructure and community feedback, AFaT providers should offer home visits in combination with playgroups to maximise outcomes for parents and children
  • where necessary, service providers should offer transportation for parents and children to attend playgroups and access centralised wrap-around support services
  • AFaT providers should co-design and collaborate with local Aboriginal services and communities on the design and implementation of the AFaT program. The program should respond to local community needs
  • monitor and record Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s development domains (physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language).

Spending rules

Successful applicants must only use funding for the development and delivery of the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program, as outlined in their approved application, in line with program guidelines and the Terms and Conditions of the Aboriginal Families as Teachers Program.

Funding cannot be used to replace an existing funding sources.

Activities need to commence during the calendar year the provider has been notified of success in the application for their grant. Any funds that are unspent at the end of the calendar year after the program is notified of success and every calendar year thereafter until 2025 may be required to be returned to the department.

The department must be notified of exceptional circumstances whereby approved funding cannot be expended within 12 months of the award of funding. Notification should include an explanation for why funding has not been expended and a timeline for spending the outstanding funds. Decisions regarding unspent funds will be made by the department with reference to the funding agreement including Terms and Conditions. Decisions will be confirmed by the department in writing.


Program grants will be paid to successful applicants as notified by the department.

Grants payments will only be progressed for applicants that are registered in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS) and have accepted the Terms and Conditions of the Aboriginal Families as Teachers Program.

Along with the Terms and Conditions, these program guidelines will form part of the funding agreement for services receiving grant payments through this program.

The amount of funding provided will be based on the department's assessment of amount requested and the information provided in the application.

Grant funding will be released for successful applicants to deliver the program every 6 months until 2025.

Funding for any future round of applications will be announced to sector at a later date, this will subject to budget availability.

Reporting requirements

A formal acquittal process will be required to be undertaken throughout the program.

This will consist of a:

  • financial accountability completed six months after the initial payment
  • financial accountability completed every calendar year after the initial payment
  • performance accountabilities completed every calendar year.

These accountability reports will be used to ensure services are receiving the appropriate level of funding, and are compliant with program requirements. Services may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in Performance and Financial accountability statements.

Any services identified as not meeting the terms under the funding agreement may be referred to Early Childhood Sector Support program, for additional support.

Program monitoring and evaluation

The department will monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs through the acquittals, in order to assess the impact of the program. Program evaluation will involve qualitative and quantitative measures including feedback from funded organisations on the value of the educational opportunity to the organisation.

A Culturally appropriate developmental tool will be implemented by services to record the developmental stages across the five domains, of First Nations children. This information will be collated through the end of year performance accountabilities reports. The tool will enable the monitoring of First Nations children across five developmental domains to inform future program development.

Additional information

SmartyGrants Help Guide for Applicants and Applicant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).

Contact details

For more information about the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program, please contact the First Nations Team in the Early Childhood Education Directorate:

Email: AboriginalprogramsECED@det.nsw.edu.au

Phone: Nat Heath 0437 781 671 or Tanika Harris 0413145165

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