Flourishing on the margins: a study of babies and belonging in an Australian Aboriginal community childcare centre

Linda J. Harrison*, Jennifer Sumsion, Ben Bradley, Karen Letsch, Andi Salamon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The colonisation of Australia brought significant change and interruption on the life-ways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including forced removals onto missions and reserves. The legacy of their dispossession is ongoing socio-economic disadvantage and racial discrimination within the dominant non-Indigenous culture. Indigenous people have survived and thrived, grounded by relationship to Country, family, and culture. Valuing and promoting these relationships is an essential first step in creating responsive, culturally respectful, and effective early childhood education and care (ECEC) services for young Indigenous children. This study, conducted in a Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service (MACS) in the state of Queensland, describes how relationships to family, culture and community were manifested in the day-to-day interactions of educators and children. Our reflections on babies’ experiences (and perspectives) centre on Aboriginal concepts of ‘the strong child’, multiple attachments with multiple caregivers, and children caring for each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • belonging
  • infant–toddler education and care
  • Aboriginal childrearing and pedagogy
  • Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service (MACS)
  • attachments to multiple caregivers


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