Physical evidence of occupation 2,500 40,000-60,000 years of occupationyears ago.Settled from Papua New Guinea Settled via land bridge from SE AsiaVillage based fishing and cropping Hunter-gatherer economies - seasonaleconomies movement through estatesFirst contacts with Europeans though Spread of European colonies fromtrading from mid-late 1800s 1788 decimates aboriginal populations.Contact with missionaries preceded Missions often established to protectcolonisation – Christianity embraced survivors.early and enthusiastically.
Wellbeing in early childhoodThe Australian Early Development Index measures outcomesfor children in the areas of:• Physical health and wellbeing• Social competence• Emotional maturity• Language and cognitive skills• Communication skills and general knowledge
2009 outcomes Vulnerable in one or more Vulnerable in two or more areas areas National Torres Strait National Torres Strait average average average average 59.9% 39.2% 23.6% 11.8
Health outcomes• Low birthweight twice as common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies as for other Australian babies.• Ear and hearing problems more than 3 times as common among Indigenous children.• Oral health -higher levels of tooth decay and lower levels of access to dental care.• Life expectancy estimated to be 11.5 years lower for males and 9.7 years lower for females.
Aims:• All children in Australia will have the possibility of attending a Montessori program regardless of their location or socio-economic circumstances.• Bring hope to those who have been unable to break a cycle of dependence and who live in poverty in Australia.
Challenge and response• How can we break the cycle of welfare dependency when so many have failed? – Family life and the socialisation of children are the foundation of any society, and fundamentally affect the future of both individuals and the community itself. – Early childhood provides the maximum point of leverage for growth and development, including the development of pre- literacy and numeracy skills and dispositions. – The child, and the value accorded children by almost all adults, is the key point of leverage for maximum family and community engagement. – Generational change starting with the child – Commitment in perpetuity
MCF partners with Torres Straitorganisations • Tagai State College to provide Montessori programs for children aged 3-6 & 6-9 • Torres Strait Islanders’ Regional Education Council to provide birth to age 3 programs
TheStrait Start programs – birth to age 3A Montessori approach to the early years
The first years of life• … the early years … have the most important influence of any time in the life cycle on brain development and subsequent learning, behaviour and health. The effects of early experience, particularly during the first three years, on the wiring and sculpting of the brains billions of neurons, last a lifetime.• The evidence is clear that good early child development programs that involve parents or other primary caregivers of young children can influence how they relate to and care for children in the home, and can vastly improve outcomes for childrens behaviour, learning and health in later life.• The earlier in a childs life these programs begin, the better. Mustard, J. Fraser; McCain, Margaret N. 1999. Reversing the real brain drain: Early years final study report. Ontario. Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Connected to culture, community andenvironment
Establishing, maintaining, supportingand growing our work• What makes a difference? – Community engagement, which is particularly complex in Indigenous settings – Slow delicate complex work of building trust, relationships and shared understanding and commitment – Working towards sustainability through training and government engagement
Guiding Principles• Help me to do it by myself• Trust, observation, reflection, respect• Long-term commitment• Sustainable and scalable infrastructure and resources• Community engagement around the child• We must become less as the children, families and communities become more• Independence
Mentoring• Non judgemental, supportive, friendly and open, observant, effective communication, sensitivity to personality needs of coordinator• Cultural awareness and knowledge; being prepared to seek this knowledge and awareness• Non interfering but able to sensitively raise awareness of coordinator to issues they may not see• Knowledgeable and experienced in Montessori 0-3• Ability to be in the background, to act with humility and a sense of humour• Ability to work out ways to empower the coordinator
Research• We want to know what impact the Strait Start program has over time on: – the perceptions, attitudes and practices of parents and carers to fostering the development of children though family interactions and environments. – the development of children across key developmental domains (emotional, social, language, physical, cognitive) – the level of children’s engagement with and performance in formal schooling.
The research process• Collating baseline data – Existing and future school data on: • Attendance • Literacy • Numeracy – AEDI – Human Development Index – LSIC• Documentation of programs – Background – Rollout – Challenges and responses – Reflections
• Qualitative data – Background material • Ethnographies • Community profiles • Family profiles – Ongoing collection • Classroom observations • Regular family and community interviews• Quantitative data – Background material • AEDI • School performance data – Ongoing collection • Annual testing using some AEDI tools • Range of tests (children) • Long-term tracking using school performance data • Health and well-being measures