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By Erin Rutherford
20 September 2022

“Being a team leader and working while being a mum and a friend, I didn’t know I could do that but now I do.” 

Warumungu / Wambaya woman Keara  beams as she talks about all that she has achieved in the short time she’s been a part of the Indi Kindi early years initiative.

Keara, 22, lives in the remote community of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. After her daughter was born, she struggled to find childcare. All with long waiting lists. Without childcare she couldn't work as there were no opportunities that allowed her to bring her daughter to work with her.

Earlier this year a place was available for her daughter in childcare. Once her daughter was settled, she started looking for work. An opportunity came up at Indi Kindi, which she applied for and was accepted into the role of team leader.

Delivered by Moriarty Foundation and supported by UNICEF Australia, Indi Kindi is an early childhood initiative for children  under five years of age in remote aboriginal communities that integrates education, health and wellbeing.

"Together Moriarty Foundation and UNICEF Australia have partnered with the local community to deliver much needed early childhood education and care in one of Australia’s most remote towns"

Manager of Impact, Partnerships, UNICEF Australia

Following ground-breaking success since 2012 in the remote communities of Borroloola and Robinson River in the Northern Territory, the initiative expanded to Keara’s hometown Tennant Creek and to nearby Mungkarta in 2021.  

The Indi Kindi team in Tennant Creek is made up of six local Aboriginal women who are vibrant, committed and well connected within the community. Having an entirely Aboriginal team helps create bonds and trust with the parent, meaning there is no cultural divide between educator and child and parent. 

When asked how the Indi Kindi initiative has changed her Keara, says:

“Being a team leader… being a mum and a friend. I didn’t know I could do that but now I do.”

The Indi Kindi early years initiative has not only given opportunities for children in the area, but also provided employment opportunities for local women to upskill and build careers.

Driving through desert of red sand.
Taking the Indi Kindi bus to Mungkarta.
© UNICEF Australia/2022/O’Dell

"We are brand new, and we have a lot to give."

Indi Kindi team leader and educator

The four educators are all on track to complete their Certificate III in Early Childhood Education within the next 12 months. One of the educators and Warumungu/Bidjara woman, Katie, has also completed first aid training, Bronze Medallion  (qualification as a lifesaver) along with Trauma Informed Care training.

“I was proud of myself [for] getting a full-time job at Indi Kindi. I feel like I am growing my career and going up a level,” says Katie.

The entire team has a passion for learning –  for their students and for themselves. They recently visited Jerry, an Elder in the community, to learn more about bush tucker. They plan to bring the Indi Kindi students back to Jerry’s for an educational excursion.

In Mungkarta, a one hour drive south of Tennant Creek, the only school in the remote community has provided Indi Kindi with a classroom for children under five to attend, learn and have morning tea.

After this, they travel with their educators to outdoor locations to do ‘Walking Learning’ activities on Country. The parents attend with their children and learn along the way too.

 Keara playing with the children and children practice handwashing
Keara playing with the children and children practice handwashing
© UNICEF Australia/2022/O’Dell

The Indi Kindi educators work alongside other local services to collaborate on ways to effectively engage with families that have disengaged from services in the hope that they will return to Early Childhood Education and health services.

The inspirational impact to see from the program, so early on, is the transformation of the educator's lives as they are supported to become professionally qualified educators, sustain full-time employment, are empowered in their personal lives and are now role models in their community.

The Indi Kindi initiative supported by UNICEF Australia aims to give children the best start to life by integrating education, health and wellbeing. The initiative addresses 13 of the 17 Closing the Gap targets.

“It was inspiring to meet the Warumungu / Wambaya women and educators who are transforming their own lives and the children's and families in their communities through education, strong relationships, and empowerment.” Adrienne, UNICEF

At UNICEF Australia, we believe every child has the right to be healthy, educated, protected, respected and involved.

Child smiling while laying on a purple blanket© Moriarty Foundation

Learn more about our work in Australia