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Early childhood services - culturally safe environments for Aboriginal children

Guidance on Child Safe Standard 1: Establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children are respected and valued.


Standard 1 applies to all early childhood services even if no children attend the service that identify as Aboriginal.

It asks services to create a culturally safe, environment for Aboriginal children. An environment where they:

  • feel comfortable being themselves
  • feel comfortable expressing their culture, including their spiritual and belief systems
  • have educators who respect and encourage their sense of self and identity.

Understand identity

Identifying as Aboriginal is one part of a child or young person’s identity. Like everyone, Aboriginal people have different life experiences and characteristics. Each person is unique with their own characteristics, strengths and challenges.

The term ‘Aboriginal’ includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Services should ask children and families how they wish to refer to themselves.

Respect culture

Being able to express their culture makes Aboriginal children stronger and safer. If children don't feel strong they may be less likely to report abuse.

Australia’s colonial history has caused significant trauma and hurt. This pain is still felt by individuals, families and communities today. Services should show respect for the deep resilience of Victorian Aboriginal communities.

Actions services must take to comply with Standard 1

Standard 1: Services establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children are respected and valued.  

Early childhood services must comply with all the following elements of this Standard:

  • A child’s ability to express their culture and enjoy their cultural rights is encouraged and actively supported (1.1)   
  • Strategies are embedded within the organisation which equip all members to acknowledge and appreciate the strengths of Aboriginal culture and understand its importance to the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal children and young people (1.2)
  • Measures are adopted by the organisation to ensure racism within the organisation is identified, confronted and not tolerated. Any instances of racism are addressed with appropriate consequences (1.3)   
  • The organisation actively supports and facilitates participation and inclusion within it by Aboriginal children, young people and their families (1.4)   
  • All of the organisation’s policies, procedures, systems and processes together create a culturally safe and inclusive environment and meet the needs of Aboriginal children, young people and their families (1.5) 

How to comply - examples and ideas

Implementing this standard will require ongoing effort, not just a once-off change. Service leadership has an important role in driving this cultural change.

Make sure you consult with families, students and the local Aboriginal community when you develop policies.