A networking group that has led to more Aboriginal children joining preschool is a finalist in the Victorian Early Years Award.
The Koorie Champions Network Group, a partnership between Wodonga Council, Local Aboriginal Education Consultant Group and the Koorie Engagement Support Unit, has met monthly since 2017.
Trish Cerminara, from KEU, said activities like basket-weaving took place but it was also a safe space to talk, with council staff like Shelli Hardwick being embraced by the group.
"She grows 10 feet taller every time she is called 'Aunty'," she said.
"That's how kinship works - you might not be part of my family, but you become part of my extended kinship."
Council's early years manager Nola Bales said the group was open to anyone in the early years space.
"People are going back to their workplaces and embedding cultural understanding there," she said.
Southern Rise educational leader Michelle Muller said the preschool had added resources like play cards made by artist Carliegh Walsh, and staff felt confident to teach the children about culture.
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"A family that started earlier this year came in, and the mum was excited to see story stones," she said.
"No question is a silly question for the Koorie Champions ... it's given me permission to try things."
Ms Cerminara said across the Ovens-Murray, enrolment of Aboriginal children in three-year-old kinder had grown from 52 per cent in 2017 to 92 per cent in 2018.
The Koorie Champions and 19 other finalists will attend an awards ceremony in October at the NGV.