What does Children’s Ground actually do?

Children’s Ground is a not-for-profit organisation designed with and led by First Nations people to end enduring injustice and disadvantage.

The Children’s Ground Approach is a 25-year strategy to transform the system There are two main streams to our bold change agenda: Community Change and Systems Change.

1. Community Change

We partner with First Nations communities over a 25-year period to deliver services that address five key pillars of wellbeing: learning, health, community, culture and economic opportunity. We call this the Children’s Ground Approach. On the ground this looks like:

  • Providing culturally appropriate Early Years and primary education for children. This is delivered in their First Language, as well as English, in the communities where they live
  • Integrating health lessons into learning activities. We focus on nutrition, social and emotional wellbeing, healthy routines and mindfulness, working with children who have experienced trauma
  • Delivering health promotion with families: health discussions and support, linking people to mainstream health services, maternal and child health
  • Social and emotional wellbeing/counseling: children’s emotional literacy, youth mental health, women who have experienced violence, family wellbeing
  • Supporting First Nations governance structures within each community. Families are leading the way in creating safe, healthy communities, full of opportunity
  • Providing flexible, strengths-based employment for First Nations people. Many are experiencing employment for the first time
  • Developing First Nations-led social enterprises and economic opportunities
  • Promoting First Nations systems of knowledge and practice across everything we do including health, learning, decision making, service delivery, evaluation
  • Prioritising the cultural needs of First Nations people: visits to Country, developing First Language resources, cultural health responses
  • Preserving and strengthening Indigenous languages

This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We work with each child in every community to develop personal learning, health and cultural development plans. We support the families that wrap around that child through flexible employment and community development initiatives.

2. Systems Change

Children’s Ground is gathering the evidence to prove that our approach is working. We are using this emerging evidence to advocate for changes to the systems that fail First Nations communities. This looks like:

Are you an Aboriginal organisation?

Yes. Children’s Ground was founded by Arrernte man William Tilmouth and non-Indigenous CEO Jane Vadiveloo, in collaboration with First Nations Elders and communities in Central Australia. Our Governance system recognises the equal importance of cultural governance and corporate governance. Our community governance committees are comprised of 100% local First Nations people. Our corporate Board of Directors is comprised of over 50% First Nations people. William Tilmouth is the Chair of our board.

Are you a school?

We are not a registered school, but we employ qualified Early Childhood and Primary educators and work in partnership with local schools. Our First Nations educators are recognised as teachers within their communities and cultural responsibilities. First Nations education systems have continued for over 65,000 years. We are continuing this system of education while partnering and working with the mainstream system. We offer high-quality, culturally safe and responsive Early Childhood education where children are learning through their First Language and culture as well as English. We are working towards establishing a primary school for the children who are moving beyond the Early Childhood education currently offer. We have a First Nations curriculum in development.

What makes Children’s Ground different from other not-for-profits?

  • We have a 25-year strategy for change within communities and across the system. We know that change will take time, so we walk alongside each child for an entire generation
  • We are not a ‘quick fix’ or program-based model: we are focused on outcomes
  • We invest in prevention, rather than crisis
  • We are collecting an evidence base to influence systemic change at a national level
  • Our two-tiered governance system places equal emphasis on First Nations governance and Western corporate governance structures
  • We are not simply working towards changing the lives of the communities we work with, but completely changing the systems that have failed First Nations people since colonisation through practice leadership and evidence
  • We are designed, delivered and led locally. We are placed based – meaning that we are part of community life (not a service to but delivered by and within).
  • Each community has agency and control over Children’s Ground. W are governed in our operations by the local community and Traditional Owners. For example, in Central Australia we are called Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe (the Arrernte name for Children’s Ground) and follow the direction of Ingkerrekele Arntarnte-areme Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe (Children’s Ground Central Australia Governance Committee). In West-Arnhem we are called Wurdurd Garriyigarrmerren which means ‘We are all standing together as one family, waking the path with our children’ in Kunwinjku.

Which communities do you work with?

In Central Australia, NT we are partnering with communities on Central, Eastern and Western Arrernte Country:

  • Mpweringke Anapipe (Northern Outstations, North of Alice Springs)
  • Irrkerlantye (East of Alice Springs)
  • Uyenpere Atwatye (Hidden Valley Town Camp, Alice Springs)
  • Yarrenyty Arltere (Larrapinta Valley Town Camp, Alice Springs)
  • Amengkwerne (Amoonguna community, East of Alice Springs)

In the Top End, NT we are partnering with communities on Larrakia Country and Bolmo Country:

  • Marlkawo (West Arnhem Land)
  • Knuckey Lagoon (Darwin)
  • 15 Mile (Darwin)
  • Minmarama (Darwin)

In Melbourne where our Shared Office is located, we foster relationships with the Wurundjeri community of the Kulin Nation. We support First Nations educators around the country through our work with Utyerre Apanpe (First Nations Educators’ Network).

How is Children’s Ground tracking against the Closing the Gap targets?

The Australian Government was not able to make progress on most of its original Closing the Gap targets. In 2020, they decided on a new set of targets.

In the Northern Territory, Closing the Gap outcomes have been the worst across the Country. However, Children’s Ground is making change where government has failed. While First Nations school attendance and employment is at disastrously low levels in the mainstream system, Children’ Ground is showing great outcomes in connecting children to high quality, culturally appropriate education, as well as creating employment that is lasting.

We are not only working towards closing the gap but preventing the gap from ever opening for the next generation of First Nations children. Read about our progress against all 16 Closing the Gap outcomes here.

I have items to donate! What do I do?

Fantastic! Please email cgadmin@childrensground.org.au to discuss your donation further.

I would like to set up a recurring donation! What do I do?

Amazing! Your support is vital to our work. Go to our donate page and select the amount and frequency of your donation: weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

When I donate, where does my money go?

When you donate, you are directly supporting our community-led approach to changing the future for First Nations children.  Program delivery accounts for the vast majority (nearly 80%) of our expenditure. The remaining 20% supports the administrative management of the organisation (e.g. Finance, HR, Communications, etc). Your donation will support children in early childhood education, health, culture and language preservation. It will create learning opportunities for children and help First Nations people create places of safety, hope and opportunity.

I want to volunteer! What do I do?

Great! Please email cgadmin@childrensground.org.au to discuss your skills, experience and our vacancies.

Do you have any jobs available?

Keep an eye on the Work With Us page on our website. This is where we list all our employment opportunities.

Where can I go to learn more about First Nations culture and issues?

Use the resources page on our website to learn about First Nations culture and issues. Follow Children’s Ground on social media: