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We want a place where our children are safe, where they can grow up to be healthy, educated and have a better future. Children’s Ground is the place for them. We are seeing our kids learning and loving to learn. Their families are walking beside them. We have hope for the future. Kwementyeye Gorey, Senior Arrernte Educator

Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe in Action

In Central Australia, communities deliver Children’s Ground on Central, Eastern and Western Arrernte Country in and around Mparntwe (Alice Springs) 

  • Mpweringke Anapipe (Northern Outstations, North of Mparntwe) 
  • Irrkerlantye (East of Mparntwe) 
  • Uyenpere Atwatye (Hidden Valley Town Camp, Mparntwe) 
  • Yarrenyty Arltere (Larrapinta Valley Town Camp, Mparntwe) 


Stronger Communities for Children (SCfC)

The Stronger Communities for Children (SCfC) program is situated in the Plenty Highway region and includes the communities of Atitjere and Engawala.

These communities are part of Children’s Ground in another way. SCfC is a government program that Children’s Ground runs. We support community local governance to make decisions and put programs for children and families in place. While not implementing and evidencing the Children’s Ground Approach, we bring the principles and expertise of Children’s Ground to our work.

Kids are at the heart of everything we do.

Children’s Ground started like a small flame in Central Australia in 2016 and quickly spread like wildfire. In a truly grassroots approach, Arrernte people came together to build Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe; designing, implementing, evaluating and learning every step of the way.

Beginning with three communities (or family groupings), Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe now delivers key elements of each of our five platforms across five communities and supports governance and service delivery in two remote communities. In each community, our teams work collaboratively and holistically. Our child and family health work includes a fantastic nutrition program, maternal and child health program and health promotions for children, families and communities.

Our social and emotional wellbeing team works alongside our health and learning teams to support children, young people and families in their mental health and wellbeing, responding daily to the trauma that our families live with. Everyone works with our learning teams to integrate health and wellbeing into the daily lives of children and families.

Our strength is in our local community leadership and governance. Community leaders meet weekly to lead our work. We have more and more young people and adults who want to work – most of whom were unemployed prior to working at Children’s Ground. We can’t keep up with the demand! It is exciting to see young people previously at risk who are now the leaders of the future, working alongside adults and Elders and becoming great role models for the little ones.

We are so proud of what we have achieved in Learning and Wellbeing. Initially, early learning began with one day per week of learning on Country, privileging First Language and culture. Now, our three more established communities deliver up to four early years learning and wellbeing sessions a week and our emerging communities up to two.

These sessions are on Country, in community and at our main hub. Families are walking alongside their kids, maintaining connection and responsibility to Country, promoting health and taking up employment and enterprise opportunities.

Prior to Children’s Ground, only 14% of children who engaged with us during our first three years had actively attended early learning prior. In the first three years, this increased to over 80%. Now we are seeing babies born into Children’s Ground, where engagement in early years education has become the norm.

We’ve been following Government nearly all our lives – this is a new beginning. We are following a new path, our own path as First Nations people for the future of our children. At Children’s Ground, the community is taking the lead. We are very proud of that. We are the Government of ourselves. MK Turner OAM, Arrernte Elder and Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe Director

Early learning sessions focus on both Arrernte and Western educational priorities. With cultural educators working alongside western trained educators, staff are bringing the best of the old and deep knowledge and combining it with the new.

We ensure our kids come through with a strong identity and all the skills they will need to learn and grow, fully connected to their local and broader world. Our families want their children to be fully fluent in their First Languages as well as English numeracy and literacy.

Since 2019, we have increased access across the community to resources in First Language through our resource development work. We have published 12 books that feature 7 languages spoken in our communities, an app with learning games, songs in language and other teaching tools to strengthen language learning.

These learning resources are used as learning resources at Children’s Ground and are also available for sale as part of our resource development enterprise.