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On 4 February 2023, the Department of Social Services opened consultation on its Early Years Strategy. The Strategy is intended to help the Australian Government to create a more integrated, holistic approach to the early years and better support the wellbeing of Australian children aged 0 to 5 years. Recognising how critical the early years are for children’s development, the Strategy will be a roadmap for Commonwealth programs, funding and frameworks impacting Australia’s youngest children and their families.

The Discussion Paper set out 7 consultation questions. Good Shepherd’s response sets out what the Commonwealth Government can do to improve outcomes for children who are born and raised in more vulnerable and disadvantaged circumstances. It is based on consultations with practitioners, and analysis of client data.

Our submission advocates for the need for Government to integrate the portfolios and policies that intersect with the wellbeing of children through the Early Years Strategy by:

  • addressing the contexts, prevalence, and potentially lifelong impacts of different early childhood traumas;
  • investing in training existing family violence practitioners, and resourcing more practitioners, to recognise children as victim-survivors in their own right;
  • prioritising prevention by targeting maternal safety, financial wellbeing, and programs that nurture secure attachment between vulnerable parents and their children, and support caregivers to provide for their children’s material and emotional needs; and
  • focusing on the historical and longstanding oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their children that continues to ‘leave them behind’ non-Indigenous children.
Good Shepherd - The Early Years Strategy for Australian children

Download Good Shepherd – The Early Years Strategy for Australian children