Dialog Box


Our impact

Three years into our 25-year journey, we have already seen big changes in Kakadu West Arnhem. Children are learning, adults are engaged in meaningful employment and a community has mobilised around the future of their children.

Ngaye ngal-Gangila. Nga-ngeiyo Roxanne. Nga-durrkmirri gore/ Wurdurd Garriyigarrmerren.

My skin name is Ngal-gangila. My name is Roxanne. I work at Children's Ground.

I am excited to tell you that Children’s Ground is growing and getting stronger. It has been a great year.

Bininj (Aboriginal people) have led the way in bringing about positive change.

We are all working together and the future is looking really good.

Roxanne Naborlhborlh
Coordinator, Family, Engagement and Media at Children’s Ground 



May and Mark are Co-directors of Children’s Ground. May’s skin name is Ngal-wamud. She is from the Mirarr clan in Kakadu. Mark’s skin name is Na-bangardi. He is a member of the Bolmo clan from Malgawo. Their leadership and advice is very important to Children’s Ground.

We are working in Children’s Ground to show wurdurd the right way not the wrong way. We have to think about our life and what we are doing.

Before Children’s Ground we didn’t have any programs and there was nothing for the Wurdurd (children). Jane brought the idea of Children’s Ground to us and we talked about it and worked out how to make the programs.

We like working together with the Balanda (non-Aboriginal) showing the Wurdurd the Balanda way and the Bininj (Aboriginal) way. When they grow up they will have both ways. Children’s Ground is getting better step-by-step.

May Nango and Mark Djandjomerr
Co-directors of Children’s Ground, Kakadu West Arnhem



I am delighted that our Centre has had the opportunity to contribute to the research underpinning this important and innovative work. Our review of the evidence for the early stages of the Children’s Ground approach found it is supported by a strong rationale and program logic, as well as a powerful confluence of various streams of evidence. 

Our work recognises a range of factors which contribute to existing service systems not servicing communities as well as they could. Poor coordination of services, professionals working in narrow program silos, a lack of access for high-need families and lack of quality local data are all issues; ironically, often most for the families and communities which need help the most.

Refocusing service systems to better serve the children is essential. All the evidence points to a clear need for comprehensive, place-based strategies that simultaneously address families’ immediate needs for support and the broader conditions in which families are raising young children. Genuine engagement with community and building relationships with the families is a vital ingredient in the mix.

Initiatives like Children’s Ground which have these principles at their heart represent the best chance of achieving a better future for the most children, families and communities experiencing the greatest disadvantage.

Professor Frank Oberklaid
Foundation Director, Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
Honorary Professor of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
Co-Research Group Leader, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

(The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute conducted a literature review examining the evidence base for early childhood approaches in highly disadvantaged communities for Children’s Ground. The report is available here.)



Children’s Ground has strong rationale and program design and presents an exciting and ambitious approach to develop an innovative and place-based approach, which brings together various streams of evidence and practice in a complete system with key principles and approaches that we believe are needed to create long term change. 

Our research over many years has demonstrated that the existing system of services is struggling to redress the profound health and social distress being experienced by many Indigenous people living in the Northern Territory.

The operating principles of Children’s Ground to start early; to stay through the life course of the child and the family; to provide excellence and innovation in the areas of learning, development and wellbeing; to ensure the voice and ownership of the community are central; and to work intensively with a community to create the critical mass for a change across a generation – are key drivers for change.

The intent to bring these principles together and to implement them on the scale and with the type of relationship with community that Children’s Ground proposes, is what makes this approach exciting.

Our recent Early Childhood Series identifies key areas of learning and practice needed to secure long term wellbeing for children. Children’s Ground is both informed by and responds to key recommendations of this work and provides the practical systemic response to what we know to be both creating and sustaining disadvantage.

We look forward to working with Children’s Ground and other key research institutes to participate in both a longitudinal and evaluation framework as Children’s Ground unfolds.

Professor Jonathan Carapetis
Director, Menzies School of Health Research, Northern Territory

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