“Our story began more than 40 years ago as the first of its kind, a pioneering volunteer program with three bilingual women in the Ethnic Children’s Services Worker Program, supporting the inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds in Children’s Services. The value of our program was recognised almost immediately with the Department of Social Security funding the Casual Ethnic Workers Pool. Our reach expanded to include rural and regional NSW (including Albury, Cooma, Queanbeyan Coffs Harbour, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange) to meet the growing needs of emerging communities and refugee families and to establish the Aboriginal Casual Workers Pool. We recruited consultants and created training modules and resources in areas of cultural competence and inclusive practices for educators to build the capacity of children’s services. Our success has been acknowledged internationally as one of the most effective models for inclusion and in 1997 UNESCO recognised our program as a model of best practice in Early Childhood.
The Bicultural Support Program has evolved a lot since 1979, to meet the changing child care needs, but our mission has remained the same, to create greater access and equity to Early Childhood Services for CALD communities. Our innovative, unique, human resource today consist of over 300 trained Bicultural Support Workers representing 110 different cultures and languages (including Indigenous languages) and counting! We proudly continue to play a crucial and active role in promoting inclusion for all Australian children but especially for children from CALD, Indigenous and Refugee backgrounds, children with disabilities, parents, families and educators.”