Ninganah No More

Program overview

The Ninganah No More Aboriginal languages program was established in 2018 with the aim of increasing the level of Aboriginal languages being taught in early childhood services in NSW. The program provides an opportunity for Aboriginal cultures and identities to be developed and nurtured in the earliest stage of formal education, and provides a basis for the ongoing development of Aboriginal language skills at higher levels of education.

In July 2021, the NSW Government released the First Steps Aboriginal Children’s Early Childhood Education Strategy. The strategy is the outcome of a process of co-design with the Aboriginal Advisory Group for Early Childhood Education, and places a strong emphasis on First Nations family and community engagement, child-centred services and the promotion of First Nations' cultures and identities in early childhood settings. The provision of Aboriginal language instruction is a specific objective of the Strategy, and the Ninganah No More program has been redesigned to support the delivery of the Strategy’s goals.

Find out more about First Steps – the NSW Aboriginal Children’s Early Childhood Education Strategy 2021-2025.

The Ninganah No More (NNM) Aboriginal language program aims to increase the level of Aboriginal languages being taught in early childhood services across NSW. The teaching of languages in ECE settings not only promotes language acquisition among children, but also underlines the importance of older language speakers who act as teachers and mentors in language. Supporting language teaching in early childhood therefore supports broader language revitalisation objectives.

The teaching of Aboriginal languages also provides an opportunity for Aboriginal culture and identity to be developed and nurtured in the earliest stage of formal education across NSW. Language is critical to the transmission of culture as it is through language that key cultural concepts are known, understood and transmitted across populations and generations. Language teaching at ECE services can also have a positive impact on broader culture and identity aspirations of Aboriginal peoples in NSW, and when delivered in ECE services it can make that level of education more appealing to First Nations parents.

The Department of Education has introduced a three-category grant structure to reflect the differing needs of ECE services and the communities which they operate in. The following grant amounts are available:

Table 1: Ninganah No More Grant Categories

Category Funding amount Aim Funding expectations


$0 - $20,000

All Aboriginal children learn up to 20 words

  • Deliver program to min. 1-20 Aboriginal children.
  • Min. of 1 hour of language lessons per week.


$20,000 - $50,000

All Aboriginal children learn up to 50 words

  • Deliver program to min. 20 Aboriginal children.
  • Min. of 2 hours of language lessons per week.


$50,000 - $100,000

All Aboriginal children learn up to 100 words

  • Deliver program to min. 30 Aboriginal children.
  • Min. of 3 hours of language lessons per week.

ECE Aboriginal language hubs

Following a Review of the Ninganah No More program, a second element of the program is the establishment of Aboriginal ECE language Hubs in selected regions. Services within those regions are not eligible to apply for this grant funding, however existing Ninganah No More services in those regions will be contacted to discuss transitional arrangements specific to their service. The following table presents the local government areas identified as being within Aboriginal ECE language hub areas.

Table 2: Establish and Proposed Language Hub Regions and Local Government Areas

Established Language Hub Local Government Areas



Clarence Valley

Coffs Harbour

Nambucca Valley

Proposed Language Hub Local Government Areas

North Wiradjuri

Dubbo Regional







Tamworth Regional

Moree Plains

Further information on ECE language hubs can be found here.

Program objectives

Ninganah No More has five core objectives:

  1. Embed Aboriginal language and culture into ECE educational programs.
  2. Increase the number of Aboriginal children learning an Aboriginal language.
  3. Ensure Aboriginal children remain connected to culture and grow their cultural identity through language.
  4. Develop stronger links between early childhood education services and their local Aboriginal communities.
  5. Create inclusive learning environments and encourage all children to learn an Aboriginal language.

Eligibility criteria

Applications for Ninganah No More must be lodged by an organisation. Organisations who are eligible to apply include early childhood education service providers and recognised First Nations organisations. Private for-profit childcare centres and family day care services are not eligible for Ninganah No More. To be considered, applications must satisfy all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • The application is not for the delivery of services within one or more of the proposed early childhood education language hub regions (see Table 1, above).
  • The program must be co-developed and delivered by a Certificate III, Diploma, or early childhood teacher qualified educator employed at the participating services.
  • As per the Ninganah No More grant categories, outlined above, the program is primarily aimed at providing an opportunity for Aboriginal children to learn an Aboriginal language. Once the minimum number of Aboriginal children criteria is met other, non-Aboriginal, children may also benefit from the program depending on the specific service context in which it is delivered.
  • The language teaching component of the program must be co-developed and delivered by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has the necessary community and organisational support to deliver a local Aboriginal language program. Documented support will be required as part of the application process and includes:
    • Proof that the organisation responsible for the language component of the program is recognised as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation (e.g., ORIC registration, documentation showing 51 per cent Aboriginal ownership, or any other relevant documentation); or,
    • Documentation confirming support for an individual to deliver a local Aboriginal language program (e.g., a letter of support from the NSW AECG or their local AECG, NSW Land Council, NSW Aboriginal Regional Alliance or other relevant local Aboriginal organisation).
  • Providers of language services must also consider any relevant requirements under the NSW Aboriginal Languages Act 2017, including notification to the Aboriginal Languages Trust of the establishment and operation of their service.

The application can relate to the delivery of the program across more than one service, provided all eligibility requirements are met. Participation of all nominated services must be confirmed as part of the application process. Eligible services include mobile or centre-based community preschools, and long day care services.

Where possible the Ninganah No More program will seek to prioritise First Nations community-controlled applicants, and this is a particular emphasis of Round 2. This is in-line with the NSW Government’s commitment to the national agreement on closing the gap, priority reform two relating to strengthening the community-controlled sector. Assessment of applications will apply the following hierarchy in prioritising applications:

  1. First Nations community-controlled ECE services and organisations in the Bundjalung region.
  2. First Nations community-controlled ECE services.
  3. First Nations community-controlled organisations partnering with ECE services.
  4. Eligible ECE services delivering to a significant number of Aboriginal children.
  5. Existing providers who meet the current requirements for the program.

An additional emphasis in Round 2 will be on services in locations associated with the Connected Communities program.

Grant application process

Applications for the Ninganah No More 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 the Ninganah No More grants round will be open in SmartyGrants from 1 February 2023 - 1 November 2023.

Applicants should also note that the Ninganah No More program provides an annual grant until 2025, and applicants should indicate the annual amount they are applying for. This amount should also reflect the three categories of grant available under the Ninganah No More program, and outlined in Table 1, above.

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

  • Address the objectives of the Ninganah No More program.
  • Incorporate the teaching requirements (number of children and quantity of language being taught) as set out in the category of grant being applied for.
  • The language teaching is primarily focused toward Aboriginal children.
  • Teaching 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.
  • Utilise language teachers who are accepted by the Aboriginal community as having the skills, qualifications, and experience to teach language.
  • The program should, where possible, monitor and record children’s experiences and achievements in learning Aboriginal language.

Spending rules

Successful applicants must only use funding for the development and delivery of the Ninganah No More program, as outlined in their approved application, and in line with the program guidelines and the Terms and Conditions of the Ninganah No More program.

Funding cannot be used to replace existing funding sources.

Activities are to commence during the calendar year for which funds have been provided. Any unspent funds at the end of the calendar year may be required to be returned to the Department of Education.

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


Program grants will be paid to successful applicants as notified by the Department of Education. 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 Ninganah No More program. The amount of funding provided will be based on the department's assessment of amount requested and the information provided in the application. For Ninganah No More this amount will reflect the category of funding applied for by the applicant.

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

Grant funding will be released for successful applicants to deliver the program every 12 months on the anniversary of the initial payment, until 2025.

Reporting requirements

A formal financial and performance reporting process will be required throughout the program. This will consist of a:

  • financial accountability completed twelve (12) months after the initial payment, and annually thereafter;
  • a final financial acquittal of grant at the end of the financial year immediately following the end of the program funding agreement; and,
  • performance accountabilities completed at the end of every calendar year.

These accountability reports will be used to ensure services 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

To assess the impact of the program, the Department of Education will monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs through financial acquittals and performance reports. Program evaluation may involve qualitative and quantitative measures including feedback from funded organisations on the value of the educational opportunity to the organisation.

At the discretion of the Department of Education, a formal internal or external evaluation may be undertaken to assess the success and value of the program, both in terms of the way it was implemented and its impact in meeting its objectives.

Additional information

Contact details

For more information about the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program, please contact the Aboriginal Services team at the Department of Education's Early Childhood Education Directorate:


Phone: Jenna Dabait 0499871364

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