MEDIA RELEASE: Indi Kindi releases Barhava Report that measures social impact

The newly released Barhava Report into the social impact of remote Indigenous early years program, Indi Kindi, demonstrates how Indigenous programs that are community co-designed and managed are more likely to close the gap.

Delivered by the Moriarty Foundation, Indi Kindi is a ground-breaking early years program for children under five years of age that integrates education, health, wellbeing and community development.

The program reaches an unprecedented 80 per cent of Indigenous children in the remote Aboriginal communities of Borroloola and Robinson River, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory.

According to the independent Report from Dr Galia Barhava-Monteith an independent Knowledge Mobilisation and organisational culture expert, and Margot Tong from the Boston Consulting Group, in collaboration with Minter Ellison and the Social Impact Hub, Indi Kindi delivers:

  • Improved educational outcomes
  • Increased access to health care
  • Local employment opportunities for local mothers
  • Professional development opportunities for local staff who are working towards the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education
  • Cultural and community rewards such as promotion of local languages, cultural pride and increasing time on Country

The Barhava Report highlights the contributing factors that have made Indi Kindi a standout success in mindfully navigating the many challenges faced by the very remote communities of Borroloola and Robinson River.

These include building capacity in the community through providing local paid employment when very high unemployment is the norm, sustainability, cultural relevance, adaptability to the needs of the families and integrated partnerships with other community organisations.

Dr Barhava-Monteith commented, “The benefits delivered by the Indi Kindi program directly correlate to many Closing the Gap criteria, including early childhood education, school attendance, health outcomes and employment. Because it respects and incorporates the community’s wisdom in how it was designed and is now delivered – it offers unique pathways to addressing some of the complex issues its community faces. If Indi Kindi were given the opportunity to scale, adapt and expand its operations, the benefits could be exponential.”

Indi Kindi commenced at the request of senior Law women who wanted to see their children educated. In 2012, business owners, Yanyuwa man John Moriarty and Ros Moriarty, established the Moriarty Foundation and its programs, Indi Kindi and John Moriarty Football. Their mission is to enable Aboriginal families and communities to unlock the potential of their children.

Moriarty Foundation Honorary Managing Director, Ros Moriarty said, “What sets Indi Kindi apart from other Indigenous early years programs is its traditional Aboriginal teaching methodology that is informed by 65,000 years of culture – we are emulating how Dreaming has always been taught. As Borroloola’s Law women say, you can’t talk Dreaming, you have to walk it, and this is at the heart of what we do. From our outdoor ‘Walking Learning’ classrooms to our community-led approach, Indi Kindi teaches through the lens of a uniquely Aboriginal worldview.”

“The Barhava Report is significant. With Australia failing on so many levels in Closing the Gap, it’s proven programs like Indi Kindi which are informing the sector on how to transform early childhood programs to enable Aboriginal families and communities to drive outcomes for their own children,” added Ms Moriarty.

Indi Kindi’s innovative approach has been recognised by UNICEF Australia, who, as part of its new domestic focus, has partnered with Moriarty Foundation. The relationship commenced with knowledge sharing, and has now expanded to a partnership to assist the program in establishing proof of concept and attract further funding to drive expansion.

UNICEF Australia CEO, Tony Stuart said, “Indi Kindi is the only Indigenous early childhood program UNICEF Australia has chosen to partner with as part of our focus on the First 1000 Days of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It is a proven program, delivering exceptional community benefits and a methodology that is driving transformational change in the Indigenous early childhood development space.”

“Australia is rapidly falling behind the rest of the developed world in the provision of early childhood development programs. Only 15 per cent of three year olds in Australia participate in pre-primary education, which falls well below the OECD average of 68 per cent. Of concern, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are half as likely to access these services as non-Indigenous children. To close this gap and ensure Indigenous children have access to life-changing health, wellbeing and education, it is critical that early childhood education programs, like Indi Kindi, have the necessary funding and support,” added Mr Stuart.

The Barhava Report highlights the social challenges facing the Borroloola community, which are also experienced by many other remote Aboriginal communities. These include extremely low standards of education, health and employment. It is estimated that approximately 50 per cent of families with children under 15 in Borroloola are jobless.

According to the Report, one of Indi Kindi’s key success factors is its ability to build capacity in the community through meaningful local employment. The program has a track record of keeping local women employed, with 60 per cent of the current staff having been with the program for four to five years. All six staff members are furthering their own education by undertaking a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education from the Batchelor Institute.

Deandra McDinny, a Garrawa woman who has been employed by Indi Kindi for four years, said, “I love coming to work every day, working with my colleagues to make a better community, a better environment for the kids to learn. I love how we have our classes outside, in the heat and everything, it’s good. I’ve learned so many things. I’ve pushed myself really hard. I’ve got a good job, I feel proud of myself because I didn’t have any power when I wasn’t working. Now we can come together and plan for our little ones and the community. It’s great to be part of the team and it’s something we are good at.”

The report explains that Ms McDinny is viewed as a thought leader and change maker in her community. As a key contributor in the Indi Kindi Community Advisory Group, she believes it is important to consult the Elders. “They are the leaders in our community and we need to talk to them about what is going on for the kids. We look up to the Elders, we ask them about the land and it makes us understand what they used to do. All my Grandmothers are an inspiration, they have knowledge, they tell us how they looked after their kids.”

Indi Kindi Program Director Fiona Hekking said, “While the Government has recognised the only way to close the gap is when Indigenous Australians own, commit to and drive outcomes, an Aboriginal-led approach per se isn’t enough. What Indi Kindi shows is that to be successful, programs need to be community informed and driven from the ground up, in a way that is deeply integrated within the community, directly through Elders, community leaders and local organisations. Successful programs need to be grounded in Aboriginal culture so that the Aboriginal worldview informs how decisions are made, how children are taught and how knowledge is shared for holistic educational, health and wellbeing gains.”

Read more on the report

About Dr Galia Barhava-Monteith

Originally from Israel, Dr Galia Barhava-Monteith began her career with the Boston Consulting Group. She coordinated the original HR integration for New Zealand’s largest company – Fonterra Co-Operative Group and was subsequently appointed Head of Ethics and Social Responsibility. After leaving Fonterra, Galia founded the social change organisation Professionelle, and she has continued to support a range of causes on a pro bono basis – most recently an evaluation of an indigenous impact initiative in the Northern Territory – Indi Kindi.

Her track record of social impact saw Galia appointed Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women and inducted as an Edmund Hillary Fellow. A psychologist by training with a PhD in person-centred healthcare, Galia is an expert on organisational culture. She consults to a number of New Zealand’s leading corporate and tertiary organisations on transformational projects, and has worked as a personal advisor to senior leaders and board directors at Fonterra, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland University, AUT Millennium, Transpower, Orica Chemicals (New Zealand), Genesis Energy, ASB, BNZ, Air New Zealand, Simpson Grierson and within the New Zealand judiciary.

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