Uniting has welcomed a report to improve access to and connections with early childhood services for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families across Victoria.
The Inquiry into Early Childhood Engagement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities Report was presented to Parliament on 17 September 2020.
It highlights the importance of early learning opportunities in laying the foundations for children’s long-term development, and how this is particularly important for children from CALD backgrounds.
Uniting was one of the early learning service providers to make a submission to the inquiry.
Through our commitment to give a voice to the lived experience of consumers, our submission included input from parents and carers from a range of CALD backgrounds.
We also sought the feedback and advice of our educators working in areas with significant diversity within their communities.
The insights provided by our submission highlighted both the challenges and opportunities of engaging with CALD communities.
They demonstrated the need for stronger government investment in services that are welcoming, inclusive, respectful and culturally safe for CALD children, families and communities.
In December 2019, we gave evidence to the inquiry at a public hearing in Dandenong.
The final report references Uniting’s submission, with many direct quotes from the staff who gave evidence at the public hearing, and quotes from the parents and carers who participated in focus groups for our submission.
Many of Uniting’s recommendations feature in the report’s final recommendations to Parliament.
Key recommendations of the report include:
- Continued funding of community hubs as well-established and evidence-based models for engaging with CALD communities.
- Mandated training in cultural competency and trauma-informed care for state funded services.
- Strategies and actions to increase the number of bicultural and bilingual workers in early childhood services.
- Identifying children of refugee background as a priority group for mental health services.
- Culturally diverse speech therapy workers to ensure speech and language delay assessments can be conducted in a child’s first language.
- Funding for playgroups that specifically target culturally diverse communities.
- Targeted funding to assist people from CALD backgrounds to engage in training and development, such as Free TAFE in the early childhood sector.
- Expanding Early Start Kindergarten to ensure children of refugee background are immediately eligible for free 3-year-old kinder.
- Adopting a state-wide approach to kindergarten enrolment, with a single, easily accessible and central enrolment process across Victoria.
Read Uniting’s full submission to the inquiry.