Importance of play in closing the gap for First Nations families and children

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to supporting First Nations children, families and communities with a further investment to support culturally responsive toy libraries.

The Government is working with SNAICC – National Voice for our Children to develop a playgroups pilot that is culturally-informed and incorporates community views to deliver a number of new playgroups for First Nations families.

An additional $31,660 has been committed to the pilot for investment in First Nations toy libraries, building on the Government’s $1.1 million investment in Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to deliver First Nations playgroups.

Investment in playgroups and toy libraries is at the core of the Government’s commitment to families and children.

Toy libraries operate in a similar way to book libraries, with a focus on early learning and development through play. They provide toy borrowing for families and are usually established within an existing early learning or community centre.

Investment directly in ACCO operated playgroups and toy libraries will boost the availability of culturally appropriate resources for children and parents including resources and toys that value First Nations culture and language.

Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth highlighted the importance of culturally appropriate and integrated learning through playgroups and toy libraries.

“Toy libraries and playgroups both play such a vital role in support for families and I’m so pleased the playgroup pilot will now also include a specific focus for toy libraries,” Minister Rishworth said.

“This investment will enhance early learning, development and wellbeing of First Nations children and support stronger family, community, and cultural connections – particularly for children from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Community views will be incorporated into the design of playgroups services so that they align with the needs of local First Nations families and children.

“By investing in the early development of First Nations children, we are working towards achieving key targets under the Commonwealth Government’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Through community and stakeholder consultations delivered in partnership with ACCOs, the First Nations playgroups and toy libraries will be designed for the community, by the community.

The co-design of the First Nations Playgroups Pilot program encompasses two of the four reform priorities under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap: establishing formal partnerships and shared decision making with First Nations people; and contributing to the development of a stronger community-controlled sector.

“We are committed to working with the First Nations community sector to deliver real improvements to life outcomes and positive change for all First Nations people,” Minister Rishworth said.

Information on the First Nations Playgroup Pilot program is available at Helping Families Learn and Grow with Playgroups.

Information on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is available at National Agreement on Closing the Gap | Closing the Gap.