ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group

From left: Marjorie Naylon, Cheryl Campbell, Raelene Brunette, Jeannie Campbell, Charmaine Hull and Alison Wunungmurra (Chair). Absent: Cassie Boyle

The ASQ-STEPS for Measuring Aboriginal Child Development Indigenous Reference Group

The ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) has been established to make sure the ASQ-STEPS research program is designed and implemented in a culturally respectful, meaningful and appropriate way. The IRG helps to make sure the work the research team does makes a difference to children, families and communities.

Current members are Aboriginal health and education practitioners from urban, regional and remote Aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory and South Australia. The IRG meets twice a year to keep the research on track and advise on engagement, research design, implementation, and community feedback processes.

The ASQ-STEPS IRG is supported by member’s organisations, which is gratefully acknowledged by the research team and the University of Melbourne.

Alison Wunungmurra (Chair)

Northern Territory Department of Education, Families as First Teachers

I am a Dhalwangu Yolngu woman from Gapuwiyak in the Northern Territory.  I am a qualified Teacher, with 20 years’ experience working in early childhood education. I have many roles and responsibilities to support children and families both professionally and within community. In 2018 I started working as a Family Educator for the Northern Territory, Department of Education’s Family as First Teachers program (FaFT) in Gapuwiyak.

As a Family Educator, I play a key role in connecting children and families with early education and support the school to deliver early years curriculum in culturally appropriate ways. I know how important it is to find out how a child is developing, and I use the ASQ-TRAK with children and families in my FaFT program. It helps us make sure we are supporting all children to meet learning goals and lets us engage with families about child development in a meaningful way. I also work with the Principal and participate at the corporate level in advocating and engaging in early childhood education and care.

My role in the ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group is an opportunity to explore and learn, and an opportunity to share my perspectives as an educator and a Yolngu mother from East Arnhem land.  If we commit to things like this and be part of this research, it is a way to help support our kids to have a better life.  I always think about the early education programs that our children attend and see how all these programs are making a difference to their learning and development. The ASQ-STEPS is a tool that will give us this information that will help us plan and provide early educational programs that are high-quality for our kids.

The ASQ-STEPS IRG is important because it gives me a voice.  Through this we connect and share our knowledge, stories and learn from each other. I think it is a special place that is important for us to share and value each others’ perspectives and ideas.

Marjorie Naylon

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

My name is Marjorie and I’m a Western Aranda woman who was born in Port Augusta, but grew up at a community called Hermannsburg about 125kms west of Alice Springs. I worked at Hermannsburg community before moving into Alice Springs to work as a mentor for our Indigenous families with Tangentyere Council. In 2014 I moved to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to work as an Aboriginal Family Support Worker in the Child Health Outreach Program. We work with children with chronic illness such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, Rheumatic Heart Disease and Failure to Thrive.

In my work we are finding that a lot of our kids need early intervention support. When some of our children start in an early childhood program they are found to have some difficulties with either hearing, learning or speaking in their development. Up until now there has been no culturally appropriate way to measure children’s developmental progress. The ASQ-STEPS is really important for our kids because it will help us know if the early intervention programs are working and help direct families into the right path for their children.

I have been working with the ASQ-TRAK since it was implemented at Congress in 2015; and became involved in the cultural adaptation of the remaining ASQ-3 items to develop the ASQ-STEPS in 2018. This gave me the opportunity to contribute my knowledge of our families and communities in the development stage. This has guided the research team to create the ASQ-STEPS the right way - it is meaningful and relevant for my community.

By being part of the IRG, I am learning about research and ways of measuring child development.  I take what I learn back to our educators and nurses and help support them. It makes me feel good knowing that through my participation I have achieved a lot of things. The connections I have made with members from other communities have taught me about their culture and experiences with their own mob. This strengthens the work I do with children and families in Alice Springs.  We all need to work together to help support our kids earlier in their lives.  We all want to make sure they are on the right path with their learning and development outcomes.

Raelene Brunette

Sunrise Health Service

Biography to come.

Charmaine Hull

My name is Charmaine and I am Adnyamathanha – I am a mathuri, a woman of the South Wind.  My mother is from the Flinders Ranges – rock/hill people of South Australia. My father is of the Arabana, Yankunytjatjara, and Arrernte people. My ancestors are from the North and to the West of South Australia, extending into the Northern Territory.  I was born in Port Augusta and continue to live there.  I love to visit the lands of my ancestors – as it replenishes me.

My career spans across a wide field including health, welfare, research, education, and management. I worked as an Aboriginal Health Worker and Enrolled Nurse before graduating as a Registered Nurse over 21 years ago.  I gained experience working in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. During my career I have worked providing treatment and care to young children in local communities as well as contributing to child health research within the Flinders and Far North of South Australia. Most recently I worked in a dual role as Clinic Manager/Program Manager (Connected Beginnings) at Pika Wiya Aboriginal Health Service. I feel it's important for work in ways that keep me focused on our children, our little ones.

I became part of the ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group because it is important to me that Aboriginal children receive the same early developmental care as non-Aboriginal children; and that Aboriginal parents have this support available to them. I want to see knowledge shared and handed down to our children and their children.  

I see my participation in the Indigenous Reference Group, as an opportunity for shared learning.  As much as I will be contributing my knowledge and expertise, I will be learning about research, child development and screening and measuring tools, knowledge that I can take back to my community.  I am already encouraging my daughter to monitor her little ones and now she can be happy when they reach certain milestones.  I am really excited to take the next step with the ASQ-STEPS Research team.

Cheryl Campbell

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress 

I am an Arrernte woman from Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in the Northern Territory. I am an Aboriginal Family Support Worker at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.  I have been working with children in different roles for 10 years. For the last four years, I’ve been working at the Child Health and Development Centre (CHADC), providing support for families to engage with our program. As part of my work, I do development checks of our children using the ASQ-TRAK. Before joining CHADC, I worked in the main clinic providing transport and support for families attending child health checks in the Healthy Under 5 Kids program.

I get involved with programs like the ASQ-STEPS because I want to help my people understand the importance and value of the early years, and make sure that our children get the best start. The ASQ-STEPS tool will help this happen. Being part of the ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group lets me have a voice in how the research can be most meaningful to my community. As a local Aboriginal person and being local to the community, families know me and trust that I have their child’s best interests at the front of everything I do. It makes me feel good when I am helping my people and doing something for them. Especially for the little ones.

Jeannie Campbell

Central Australian Health Service, Northern Territory Department of Health

My name is Jeannie Pungate Campbell. I’m from Ti Tree in Central Australia, 200km north of Alice Springs and my language group is Anmatjere.  I am a Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner (AHP) - Child Health at Ti Tree Health Centre. I have 22 years’ experience in the health sector and work for the Northern Territory Government Central Australian Health Service.

I have training in Maternity health, the Healthy under 5 Kids program, Partnering and Families, and Health Promotion. I also have other training related to being an AHP. As part of the Healthy Under 5 program I use the ASQ-TRAK with families to check their child’s development. It is also a great opportunity to show them their child’s strengths and talk to them about child development.

I think the ASQ-STEPS is an important tool to check our children’s development is progressing and making sure the programs we provide are working well.  Having a culturally appropriate tool for our Aboriginal community is good, also that it has been done in a way which makes it easy to translate to my language. The earlier we engage with family about their child’s development, the quicker we can help make a difference.

Cassie Boyle

Northern Territory Department of Education, Larapinta Child and Family Centre

My name is Cassie Boyle, I am from the Nappanangka and Nampijinpa people, and I grew up on Arrernte land (Alice Springs).

I am the Aboriginal Coordinator at the Larapinta Child and Family Centre. The family centre is focused on optimal development of children 0-5 and improving the support for families in order for children to thrive. Specifically, my role is to support local aboriginal families facing complex challenges to access culturally safe support for them and their children.

As an Aboriginal woman, aunty, cousin, and Early Childhood educator of over 4 years I have deep understanding of the important part early learning plays for child development (0-5). In an effort to combat transgenerational trauma, I believe early learning education is vital in creating positive opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal people.

This is especially important in the early learning stages when habits, mindset and culture is developed. This includes understanding why we need to ensure that early childhood programs for our Aboriginal kids are used in effective ways as well as culturally safe and appropriate.

Cultural limitations prevent non-Aboriginal people from being able to connect with Aboriginal kids and families in an effective and culturally appropriate environment. I want to be a part of the ASQ-STEPS Indigenous Reference Group to ensure the voices of families are heard, as well as support services to make sure they are meeting the needs of our Aboriginal families.