Future Directions for the Connected Beginnings project 

It’s time for Community to look at the Connected Beginnings program and decide what comes next.  In the near future, the Connected Beginnings team wants to get together with Community 

  • To look at what we’ve achieved together with the Connected Beginning project 
  • To talk about what action we want to happen next 
  • To decide who will be doing the co-ordination that helps that action happen 

We are one Community together.  We have one vision for our children, Aboriginal children – and one of the things we want to discuss with Community, is whether it’s time for an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation to take on the co-ordination of this project, into the future. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Our local Connected Beginnings project is running really well.  Why should we think about transitioning leadership to an ACCO with a childhood focus? 

Projects run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people often have better outcomes.  Feedback from a number of communities which have their own Connected Beginnings projects has noted that greater Aboriginal leadership is needed to increase families’ involvement in the project and benefit for children.  Because of this, and commitments made under the National Closing the Gap Agreement, the Commonwealth is reviewing which organisations have Connected Beginnings backbone funding.  When funding contracts for non-Indigenous Connected Beginnings backbone organisations are close to expiry, these organisations are being asked to consult their communities on their local Connected Beginning project, progress and directions, and whether they feel that Aboriginal leadership would create better outcomes for children.  This is not a compulsory change: the community can decide that the backbone role should stay where it is.  Also, although most transitions are from a non-Indigenous organisation to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation, It is also possible that the community will ask for transition from the current non-Indigenous organisation to another non-Indigenous organisation which provides early childhood services if this organisation has the trust and good will of the community. 


2. You say it is a community decision to transition. Who gets to decide which organisation is recommended to take on the Connected Beginnings backbone function? 

Community-led decision making is vital, and we know ‘community’ can be defined in a number of ways. The community decision is about which organisation has the most trust from and connection with families who have children aged 0-5 years. We expect the community decision will be informed by: 

  • The endorsement of Elders, Community Leaders, Traditional Owners and other people that have cultural authority in your community.   
  • The views of families, including extended families of children aged 0-5 who are best placed to talk about what their children need and which organisation(s) they trust to provide for those needs.   


Funding is attached to the backbone role, so service organisations can’t have the final say on which organisation takes on the backbone role, despite the fact that many members of the Aboriginal community who are employed by service providers (both community controlled and non-Indigenous service providers) will be involved in the decision making because they are a parent or grandparent or carer of young children. 

The organisation chosen by community will then be invited by the Department to submit an application that will be reviewed to ensure that the organisation has the capacity to do the work of a backbone organisation. 


3. What if there isn’t an ACCO in our community? Or What if our local ACCO(s) don’t want to take on the backbone function? 

Connected Beginnings is intended to benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.  Community engagement is vital.  The focus of discussions with the community about how Connected Beginnings is run should focus on identifying the organisation that has the best connections with families, to be able to coordinate the services their young children need.  The community can choose a non-Indigenous organisation if they are satisfied that this organisation will benefit their children. 

4. What if multiple ACCOs are interested in the backbone function? 

It is the responsibility of the current backbone organisation to provide information to any organisation that is interested in taking on the backbone role.  The sorts of information requested may relate to project activities, networks, how Connected Beginnings works on a day-to-day level and what is involved to fulfil the backbone organisation.  It is important for the current backbone organisation to remain impartial and share information in a transparent way. 

The community will lead the decision on which organisation, or organisations, they recommend to take on the backbone role (as per question 2). If multiple organisations are endorsed by community, the department will invite these organisations to apply and they will undergo a competitive selection process. 

The Department of Education will consider on a case by case basis, community feedback, the expertise of each potential backbone organisation, and the criteria above before inviting an organisation(s) to submit an application.   


5. Who should participate in the community meeting(s)? 

Community members with cultural authority should be asked to participate.  Elders in your community should be invited to participate and their advice is requested as to which other community stakeholders could/should be involved.  Every community is different, protocols differ between communities.  The people who participate in your community discussion(s) and how these are run are likely to be different from those of other Connected Beginnings communities.  What is clear, is a discussion(s) with service providers only is insufficient, even if the people representing the service providers and their perspectives are members of your local Aboriginal community.