Indigenous Services - OzChild

Indigenous Services

We recognise that cultural heritage is an integral part of a person’s identity and confidence, particularly for young people who are starting to develop their sense of self. OzChild’s Indigenous services contribute to Reconciliation by connecting Aboriginal children and young people with their community and culture.

Artwork created by kids at our Koorie Camp.

Koorie Camp

OzChild’s Disability Program delivers camps for Aboriginal children and young people that have been diagnosed with a disability and reside within the Eastern Region. Our camps provide a supportive environment for Aboriginal children and young people by facilitating cultural and educational activities, and providing camp-goers with an opportunity to build friendships and have fun.  Participants are involved in a variety of activities such as cultural painting, didgeridoo playing, cultural dancing and outdoor activities such as flying fox, canoeing and swimming.  They are supported by Koorie mentors, trained staff and trained volunteers.  We aim to provide an environment where participants feel comfortable and can learn about their culture whilst making friends, enhancing self-esteem and self-reliance.

For further information, please contact Flexible Respite Coordinator Belinda Strange on (03) 5975 7644.

Koorie Playgroups

OzChild’s Western Region runs Koorie Playgroup programs in Portland. The playgroups run with the support of local Indigenous community organisations. Playgroup staff have extensive cultural sensitivity training with local elders and have incorporated local languages into their playgroup material.

Families attend with their young children to play, do arts and crafts and read and sing together, while immersing children in their Indigenous culture. Parents enjoy learning about school readiness and participate in a range of exciting activities around rhymes and reading to children. Sometimes the playgroups go on a “bush adventure” to get kids out in the country and play in a way that is true to their culture. Research suggests that when children play in a natural environment without toys and structure, their “global development” (cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical) improves.

The playgroup staff can also run one-on-one playgroup sessions in your home if you are not yet ready to join the group. Unique to the Koorie Playgroup is that it assists parents with transitioning their children into Kindergarten, which can be quite difficult in terms of enrolment dates, following processes and having the correct paperwork. Playgroups are free or low cost.

The following Koorie Playgroups run in the South Western Region of Victoria:

  • Dhauwurd-Wurrung in Portland.
  • Glenelg City Council in Portland.
  • Winda-mara in Heywood and Hamilton.
  • Gunditjmara in Warrnambool.
  • Kirrae in Framlingham.

Social Inclusion and Emotional Development Strategies (SIEDS)

SIEDS is a suite of early intervention programs aimed at vulnerable families with pre-school children in Western Victoria. The practice model builds on families’ capacities by strengthening social inclusiveness and emotional capital which are the foundations of healthy autonomy and life-long learning. SIEDS practitioners model oral language, creative play and early literacy practices to parents and caregivers. Classes include Reading Discovery, Rainbow Rhyming, Beyond the Rainbow and Into The Dreamtime, and Indigenous Parenting Services (Portland).

Reading Discovery

Indigenous literacy is a major component in the playgroups. The Reading Discovery Program chooses books about Indigenous culture and creates interactive activities based on the book’s themes, while also encouraging parents to read aloud with their children.
When the Koorie Playgroup staff noticed that there aren’t many Indigenous books aimed for young children, Discovery Press was born. Collaborating with Aboriginal artist Debbie Austin of the Kirrae Whurrong nation, Discovery Press has published three books:

  • Animals
  • People and Place
  • At the Billabong

These books feature traditional Aboriginal symbols and patterns and encourage children (and parents) to guess what they mean. To order these Indigenous First Discovery Press Books, please contact:

A: 4 Gawler Street, Portland VIC 3305
P: 1300 361 680

For further information on SIEDS and Koorie Playgroups in your area please call 1300 361 680 or email us at