Grants for community: Supporting our kids through COVID
Thursday 18 March 2021
To support Aboriginal community-controlled organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic, AbSec put together the Aboriginal Child and Family Sector Combined Community Response Grants program. With the help of our philanthropic partners, the Australian Communities Foundation and CAGES Foundation, we were able to financially support several organisations working across various programs to provide the assistance that families required through such a tough period.
Kulai Preschool is an Aboriginal-run community preschool in Coffs Harbour. It has been educating and caring for Aboriginal children since 1962 and places culture at the forefront, creating a nurturing environment for kids to thrive.
Meaning echidna, Kulai takes a holistic approach to education and nurturing. The building they are based in prioritises Aboriginal values and culture, creating a generous echidna-shaped space to give a strong sense of shelter and security.
The community is also heavily involved in the early development of children, and local Elders often share stories and knowledge. All of this helps kids take pride in their community and culture, and this is reinforced by using the local Gumbaynggirr language to teach song and greetings and help develop a sense of identity.
After the grants program opened in April last year, Kulai saw it as an opportunity to better support Aboriginal children and families in their community during what was a tough time for many. Their grant application focused on targeted early intervention support for families. This included help with early childhood education, community engagement and also general wellbeing support.
All of this work not only helped support Aboriginal children and families through the crisis, but it also helped Kulai to adjust and evolve, to be an organisation that can better serve the community through self-determination.
After succeeding with the grant application, Kulai got to work to combat these challenges. They started putting together and delivering wellbeing packages for families that were feeling isolated. For children that were disconnected from their regular education, culturally appropriate learning activities were packaged together and distributed. Many other resources were made available to kids in language to help keep them engaged in their culture and identity over this period and support cultural learning.
Of course, doing all of this was not easy for a small organisation like Kulai. During this period, they also had to purchase personal protective equipment for staff to ensure their safety and the safety of the families they were helping. An effort was also made to update some of their digital and IT infrastructure in the office, helping them adapt to the “new normal”.
The impact of the grant and all the work it supported become clear through the positive feedback from families in the community. Many families were extremely appreciative to be receiving this assistance and reached out afterwards for similar resources. These kinds of programs make a huge difference for families that do not have the same access to resources, especially during a period like this.
Kulai Director Julie Carey said, “We want to send a really big thank you for the grant. We are extremely grateful for the support during such a traumatic time for vulnerable families and children. Being able to support them has been wonderful and helped build on the strong connection we have, making families feel more secure. All the families and staff involved were extremely grateful.”