Philanthropic Engagement with the Australian Government's Connected Beginnings Program

As part of our focus on promoting closer collaboration between government and philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia is undertaking a project for the Australian Government's Department of Education to support the Connected Beginnings program.

What is Connected Beginnings?

Under the program, $20 million over two years is available to support the integration of early childhood, maternal and child health, and family support services with schools in a selected number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experiencing disadvantage so that children are well prepared for school.

The aim is to ensure that Indigenous children in identified areas of high need achieve the learning and development outcomes necessary for a positive transition to school. Over time this will contribute to a reduction in the disparity in school readiness and educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Funding will be available for initiatives that will:

  • Provide outreach and support so that more Indigenous families get involved in early childhood services
  • Bring early childhood and health services together so Indigenous families have a combined place in their community for these services
  • Improve sharing of information making it easier for families to tell their story once.

The Australian Government will provide funding to select communities in Australia, based on identified need and capacity to deliver desired outcomes. The Department of Education is inviting one 'lead organisation' in each approved location to lead the implementation of integration activities in that location.

Connected Beginnings and philanthropy

As part of Connected Beginnings, the Australian Government is keen to encourage partnerships between lead organisations and philanthropy.

Such partnerships would complement Australian Government funding, enabling both funding sources to leverage each other to enhance impact.

There is no expectation that philanthropy would match the level of Australian Government funding, but rather there is an aspiration that through partnerships with philanthropy, lead organisations will be able to further enhance their ability to deliver positive outcomes for the communities in which they operate.

For example, a lead organisation may identify some additional activity which, if undertaken, could further enhance the impact of the services delivered using Australian Government funding.

For example, this could be provision of an additional component of 'wrap around' services delivered to families and children in a particular community.

Building the capacity of Connected Beginnings lead organisations to engage with philanthropy

It is recognised that many of the Connected Beginnings lead organisations may lack the expertise and experience to engage with philanthropy. Therefore, Philanthropy Australia has been retained to provide capacity building support to these lead organisations, so they can more easily engage with philanthropy. This will not only benefit the lead organisations and the communities in which they operate, but will also mean that philanthropy does not miss an opportunity to provide high impact funding to these lead organisations.

Philanthropy Australia's capacity building support will include:

  • Development of a guide specifically tailored for organisations funded by Connected Beginnings as well as the provision of two live and recorded webinars – to provide organisations with the essential foundational knowledge and resources they require in order to engage with philanthropy
  • Providing desktop support for organisations funded by Connected Beginnings – to offer assistance which is more tailored to the specific needs of particular organisations and to answer any questions

However, Philanthropy Australia will not be providing a 'brokering' service.

Next steps... how Philanthropy Australia Members can get involved

Members who would like find out more information about this initiative are encouraged to contact Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy and Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert ( or (03) 9662 9299).

In conversation with Daniel Lee of the Levi Strauss Foundation

In conversation with Nicole Richards at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit 2017, Daniel Lee shared his insights on topics including the role of philanthropy as a driver of systems change which addresses root causes of social challenges, the relationship between philanthropy and government and what the new political environment in the United States means for philanthropy.

Watch video

Philanthropy Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to our weekly e-newsletter for sector news, expert opinion and resources.

Sign up here