Family, youth and children’s services

Why is this important?

Local government delivers critical services for the early years of childhood and increasingly is working with young people to develop appropriate local initiatives. Supporting children and their families in the early years of development and learning is a central to ensuring successful future outcomes.

A key service delivered by all councils are maternal and child health services. Some councils provide an outreach program to build participation in maternal and child health services through local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Many councils also deliver preschool services, child care facilities, immunisation, before and after school and holiday programs, and programs for young people; promote sport and recreation; and foster community development. Ensuring that services are accessible by Aboriginal people is a key priority.

All councils develop Municipal Early Years Plans (MEYPs), which provide strategic direction for education, care and health programs, and activities that impact on children and their families. The Plans address infrastructure, planning, advocacy and community development. Engaging with the local Aboriginal community and organisations is important in ensuring the Plans respond to Aboriginal community needs.  


What can your council do?

Councils can:

  • promote engagement in early education and learning, through a range of measures in partnership with the local Aboriginal organisations
  • engage with local Aboriginal organisations and structures on council plans aimed at delivering family, youth and children’s services
  • strengthen links with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, including through service delivery partnerships
  • undertake audits of their services to identify whether there are barriers for Aboriginal people using these, and take steps to make services more inclusive
  • employ Aboriginal people and other strategies to encourage participation in council services by Aboriginal families and youth.


The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey found that some councils were involved with Aboriginal families and young people including child care programs for Aboriginal people and specific consultative processes. 


Good Practice examples

Young people

Ballarat Council is working with several local organisations to deliver the Learning 2 Lead program, funded by Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership. This program engages a group of 15 young people to develop leadership skills and to connect with culture and identity, while strengthening local networks and friendships.

Children’s services

The City of Whittlesea, in partnership with the Aboriginal community, opened the Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Centre in February 2012 – the first Aboriginal-controlled organisation in Whittlesea. The Centre is licensed for 66 Aboriginal children and is already at capacity. The Centre has a unique design, blending cultural elements that support strong Aboriginal identity and provides a quality learning environment. This design is the new benchmark for early years facilities across Whittlesea. The joint project has achieved pathways to quality education for Aboriginal children as well as training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people – approximately 10 people have been supported to access tertiary education and are now active employees at the Centre. The project was enabled by innovative partnerships including with State Government departments that supported doing business differently. The project represents a strong sustainable partnership between the council and the local Aboriginal community.