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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.

  • Services approved under the National Quality Framework (NQF):

    • long day care
    • family day care
    • kindergartens (preschool)
    • Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)
    • school holiday programs that operate for 28 days or more per year.

    Services approved under the Children’s Services Act (CS Act):

    • limited hours
    • occasional care
    • school holiday programs that operate for less than 28 days per year
    • early childhood intervention services
    • former Budget Based Funded services
    • mobile services.

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.

  • Child Safe Standard 5 - Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.

  • Under the guiding principles of the National Law and CS Act, services are already expected to consider:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture and
    • the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity.

    The Victorian Early Years Learning Development FrameworkExternal Link (VEYLDF) also:

    • recognises and respects Aboriginal cultures and their unique place in Victoria’s past, present and future
    • acknowledges that this is central to implementing the VEYLDF
    • promotes learning about and valuing the place of Aboriginal people to enhance all Victorian children’s sense of place in the community.

    Find out how the requirements of Standard 1 align with existing regulatory requirements, the National Quality Standards (NQS) and the VEYLDF at: Mapping the Child Safe Standards (DOCX, 96KB).External Link


Reviewed 15 August 2022

Child Safe Standards

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