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By Andrea Andres
9 July 2023

Every child deserves to grow up with the foundations they need to thrive. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, it is essential they have access to the opportunities and support needed to ensure their healthy development and wellbeing. When we think about giving children a better future, reconciliation plays a crucial role.  

UNICEF Australia has a vision for a reconciled Australia. And we are working towards a fair and equitable country for all children to grow up in. 

Through programs with our partners for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, UNICEF Australia is committed to working with communities, ensuring that all children get the best start in life

1. For every child, birth registration: Pathfinders 

Imagine a world where an everyday task such as attending school, opening a bank account, and obtaining a driver's licence hangs in the balance of a simple piece of paper – a birth certificate. For many Australians without their birth registered, this is their reality.  

To help address this issue, UNICEF Australia joined forces with Pathfinders, a community-based organisation supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to obtain birth certificates or register births through their National Aboriginal Birth Certificate program

A young woman and older woman at an outdoor event
Attendees at a Pathfinders event in Canberra.
© UNICEF Australia/2022

To date, UNICEF Australia has supported six community roadshow events, registering over 500 births across NSW and the ACT through this partnership. Our ultimate ambition is achieving universal birth registration for every child in Australia, no matter what. 

Kirby's Story

2. For every child, education: Indi Kindi 

Two young children smiling
No matter where they are, every child deserves education.
© UNICEF Australia/2023/Hill

The first day of school holds tremendous significance in the lives of children and parents, etching memories that last a lifetime. It marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning, with early childhood education serving as a solid foundation for little ones to develop skills that will help them build better futures.  

Sadly, many Aboriginal children living in remote communities across Australia have limited access to early childhood education and development programs. In 2018, 86 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education, compared to 91 per cent in the broader population. 

To help close this gap, UNICEF Australia partnered with Moriarty Foundation to expand their groundbreaking early childhood education program, Indi Kindi.  

A woman holding a baby as they sit on a picnic rug on the sand.
The Indi Kindi program is run by local Aboriginal women who teach children on Country.
© UNICEF Australia/2023/Hill

A community-led initiative, Indi Kindi aims to give children in remote areas the best possible start to life and prepare them for school by integrating education, health and wellbeing. Through inclusive and culturally appropriate early childhood education, children can develop a love and interest in learning.    

Indi Kindi Program

In 2022, key achievements from the Indi Kindi program included: 

  • Delivering the new Aboriginal Early Years program on Country in two new communities for children under five in Tennant Creek and Mungkarta. 
  • Training educators in Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care. 

3. For every child and young person, sports for development: Binar Futures

A group of young basketball players.
Binar Futures empowers Aboriginal youth to shoot for the stars through sports, culture, youth leadership and youth development.
© Binar Sports/Supplied

Sport isn't just good for physical activity but is also a powerful tool to enrich young minds and teach important life skills

In an exciting new partnership, UNICEF is working with Binar Futures in Western Australia to support Aboriginal youth aged 9-18 years experiencing disadvantage through a Sports for Development program that improves social and emotional wellbeing and provides a stronger sense of cultural identity, pride, connection and belonging. 

A young man playing the didgeridoo.
Binar Futures is committed to supporting Aboriginal youth and community in building positive futures for themselves, their families, and culture.
© Binar Sports/Supplied

One young person who experienced Binar's innovative programs firsthand is Nes’eya Parker-Williams, a Binar youth mentor and current player for the Joondalup Wolves. 

Her basketball journey started with Binar Sports at the age of 14. Through the program, Nes’eya's technical and professional skills developed and four years later, she landed herself a spot in the Women's National Basketball League for the Perth Lynx team. 

A young woman holding a trophy and also standing next a to a group of young basketball players on a basketball court.
Nes'eya's is now a professional basketball player who gives back to the community through coaching and mentoring at Binar.
© Binar Sports/Supplied

For Nes'eya, Binar Sports has changed her life in more ways than one, giving her the chance to grow her skills, both on and off the court.

"Binar to me is not just a sporting organisation, there’s way more to it. It’s made me realise I have a second family, also becoming a leader and role model for the younger generation made me feel welcomed and I can be myself."

Nes'eya Parker-Williams
Current youth mentor and former Binar participant

Through partnerships just like this one, we can invest in the potential of our young people in more ways than one. 

A fair future for every child 

A smiling young boy waves.
Children have time to learn about Country, play by the river and learn to read at the Indi Kindi program.
© UNICEF Australia/2023/Hill

The words of the Uluru Statement are powerful, "When we have power over our destiny, our children will flourish."  

Through partnerships for impact and amplifying the voices of children and young people, we can help create futures where all children can thrive and prosper.