$2.7M for successful Aboriginal early childhood program

The school-based program, Getting on Track in Time has received a substantial financial boost to continue its fantastic work.

A highly successful Aboriginal early childhood program has received a $2.7 million funding boost to ensure even more young children, their families and educators are skilled in discussing and managing, challenging emotions and feelings.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the Getting On Track In Time program - or GOT IT! - was culturally adapted for Aboriginal communities in partnership with local Aboriginal health services and piloted over four years with positive results.

“This program has united parents, teachers, mental health workers and Aboriginal people to achieve an important goal - to support young Aboriginal children to recognise, regulate and talk about any troubling thoughts and feelings they have,” Mrs Taylor said.

“I am delighted more families will benefit from this excellent program, which was developed by South Western Sydney Local Health District in collaboration with local Aboriginal people.”

Designed for children aged three to nine years, Aboriginal GOT IT! is a school-based program led by a team of mental health workers (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal).

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the program aims to support children, families and educators to address emotional or behavioural concerns in children and reduce the emergence of mental health concerns later in life.

“A strong connection to community and culture boosts resilience and helps children better manage the ups and downs of life. This helps to improve their engagement in class and lifts learning outcomes,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We’re grateful for the wisdom and sharing of cultural knowledge from our colleagues in Aboriginal health services who helped upskill teachers and tailor this program to children in their early years of learning.”

Aboriginal GOT IT! team leader Jemma Milloy said the program resulted in significant improvements to child behaviour, social skills and confidence in school and home settings.

“When you combine cultural and clinical practices, families feel acknowledged and heard,” Ms Milloy said.

Findings of the Aboriginal GOT IT! evaluation report include:

- The program was evaluated as highly acceptable to Aboriginal families. 93 per cent of families who were offered a place in the program participated and 89 per cent of children who commenced the program successfully completed it.

- 93 per cent of educators reported the program added value for children and families.

- 100 per cent of educators reported there was a considerable positive impact on overall classroom behaviour and behaviour of the children in the program.

- 92 per cent of educators reported there was a considerable positive impact on their understanding and management of conduct and emotional problems.

The $2.7 million investment over the next four years builds on an initial $2.7 million investment for the pilot of Aboriginal GOT IT!

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