Public Sector Unearthed

Wednesday December 6, 2023

Connected beginnings with Lesley Richardson and Terese Christoff-Smith

In episode 5 of the Public Sector Unearthed podcast, we go behind the scenes of the Connected Beginnings program and talk to two public servants dedicated to giving First Nations children the best start in life.

Lesley Richardson, director of Connected Beginnings Angurugu at the Department of Education, Northern Territory Government, shares how her career led her to playing a key role in the Connected Beginnings program in Angurugu. She highlights the program’s comprehensive approach, combining health, education, and family support to nurture early childhood development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across over 40 sites in Australia.

Joining Lesley is Terese Christoff-Smith, who until recently was an assistant director for the Connected Beginnings program at the Australian Government Department of Education. From her position in Canberra, Terese gives an overview of the program’s impact, focusing on the strides made in community-led initiatives and the significance of incorporating data-driven policies.

This episode’s Unearthed wisdom: Truly successful policies and programs will involve and draw on First Nations communities’ wisdom and strengths.


Produced in partnership between

In partnership with

Connected beginnings with Lesley Richardson and Terese Christoff-Smith image


  • Lesley Richardson image
    Lesley Richardson

    Director of Connected Beginnings
    Department of Education, Northern Territory Government

  • Megan Aponte-Payne image
    Megan Aponte-Payne

    International Trade Specialist
    Office of Supply Chain Resilience at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

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