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Children and Families Research Centre

Childcare Choices of Indigenous Families

bio bowes jennifer

In 2004, the Department of Community Services commissioned the Child Care Choices research team to undertake a project on Indigenous families that addressed some of the same questions about experiences with child care and early childhood education that were being asked in Child Care Choices, a longitudinal study of over 600 young children and their families begun in 2002 in urban and rural areas of NSW. It was recognised that the research methods used in the Child Care Choices study were not suitable for a study of Indigenous families with their reliance on surveys, phone interviews and child assessments

The challenge for this project was to develop research methods that were appropriate and that would engage families so that their voices could be heard authentically. This challenge has been a central concern of the project. We have devoted a chapter of the report to discussion of these issues and the rationale for the research methods we used.

We began this study with the knowledge that only 1.5% of Indigenous children use child care under the NSW children's services program, despite representing 4.2% of the under-12 population (ABS, 2001). We began with the challenge of providing an evidence basis on which NSW DOCS can move to improve this situation. Our task was to gather and analyse trustworthy information from Indigenous families. Our aim was to identify policy directions and guidelines that will assist government to make the best fiscal and social decisions for the provision of forms of early care and education that will be trusted by Indigenous families and communities across the state, and that will be used and that will be effective for them. The need for this study has been amply demonstrated by increasingly strident calls for government to invest in more productive education strategies for the early years that will significantly address the issue of Indigenous underachievement in schooling.

Department of Community Services

Macquarie University
Charles Sturt University


Child Care Choices of Indigenous Families 
Report Summary available here
Report Full Report available here

Contact Person
Macquarie University: Professor Jennifer Bowes | Rosalind Kitson
Charles Sturt University: Tracey Simpson | Jo-Anne Reid | Melissa Smith | Belinda Downey |Sophia Pearce

The research team also included:
Natalie Burns, Chantelle Davis, Michelle Dickson, Michelle Doolan, Darryl French,Rebecca Holzigal, Lindy Moffatt, Kerry Mundine and Shirley Wyver from Macquarie University and Alicia Artery, Jean Brain, Laurie Crawford, Cathy Davies, Christine Fernando, Melinda Fox, Servena McIntyre, Iris Reid, Letitia Smith, Loretta Stanley, Debra Walford and Julie Wilson from Charles Sturt University.