ECA’s mission is to advocate for quality, social justice, equity in all issues relating to the education/care of children birth to eight years. ECA nationally has played a pivotal role in developing legislative frameworks that enable integration of children with inclusion needs within ECCC services.
ECANT’s values underpin this mission: the rights of the child, leadership, excellence, respect, courage, honesty, openness, collaboration, diversity, social justice and social inclusion of children. These values drive inclusion and the development of inclusive practices across the NT. ECANT staff have a deep understanding and culture of commitment to families and inclusion of children with additional needs, alongside typically developing peers.
The Northern Territory ISA Ecological Model for Inclusion
Following many years of experience in inclusion support in the NT, ECANT and CSSP jointly developed the NT ISA Ecological Model  and have underpinning philosophies, policy and procedures that aim to ensure that the principles of inclusion are enacted and implemented in all aspects of operational service delivery, reporting mechanisms and quality assurance processes.
Some children in the NT are at higher risk of exclusion from ECCC services. The framework identifies inclusive practices as the outcome of interaction across four levels: individual; family; community (including the local ECCC service system) and the broader societal/environmental impacts.
The Ecological Model is particularly applicable to the NT with 29.6% of the population being Indigenous with wide cultural variations (over 100 Indigenous languages spoken in the region), 19% of the population overseas-born and 35.5% of children developmentally vulnerable, which distinguishes the NT from other state. In the NT 60% of Indigenous people speak mainly an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language at home (AIHW analysis of 2012–13 AATSIHS).
ECANT and CSSP have successfully integrated a strengths-based approach to capacity building across the NT. This approach harnesses and mobilises the unique strengths of each child, family and ECCC to develop sustainable Strategic Inclusion Plans.
The NT Government’s Families as First Teachers (FaFT) program has demonstrated the importance of families in remote communities supporting their child’s development and participation in early learning. ECANT and CSSP collaborate with FaFT to maximise established networks and engagement with families, children and local staff to develop tailored innovative inclusion support solutions.
The effective use of Cultural Liaison Officers allows for local cultural issues to be considered and demonstrates how the Ecological Model is applied at the community level.
The ecological framework enables a holistic approach in planning for all aspects of children’s learning in line with NQF principles. Children’s learning is seen as integrated as a result of the inter-connectedness between children, families and communities. In reflective conversations educators are encouraged to incorporate and extend ideas that promote connection, community and wellbeing.