The Let’s Start Parent Child Program

The Let’s Start Program is based on 17 years of experience with the development of parenting programs in remote NT communities. From 2000-2003, a trial adaptation of the Exploring Together program, called Ngaripirliga’ajirri was conducted in partnership with the Tiwi Health Board on the Tiwi Islands. This was followed by Let’s Start: Exploring Together for Indigenous Preschools, an adaptation of the Exploring Together Preschool Program for rural and remote Aboriginal parents. Let’s Start was initially implemented in Darwin, the Tiwi Islands, and piloted in a small number of other communities. After its evaluation in 2009 the program was extended to communities of the West Daly Shire, including Nganmarriyanga, Nauiyu Nambiyu, Peppimenarti, Emu Point and Merrepen, as well as in Maningrida in West Arnhem Land.

Let’s Start is a multi-group program for children from preschool to grade 1, and involves both parenting discussion groups and interactive groups of parents and children together in which parents are able to learn skills in engagement of their children in play. The program is implemented in close collaboration with schools. It aims to assist parents whose children are at risk or who are showing indications of behaviour problems at school or at home. Referrals to the program are taken from teachers, from child protection and other community service providers as well as from the parents and grandparents themselves.

A key focus of the Let’s Start program has been the adaptation of resources and methods for remote Aboriginal parents and children, and also to enable training of remote Aboriginal workers in skills of group facilitation. A current research project, called Skills for Play, focuses on the development and evaluation of culturally appropriate training materials and resources designed specifically for Aboriginal community early childhood workers. 

The Let’s Start manual and resources, training by the Let’s Start team and advice on evaluation are available on inquiry to the Centre for Child Development and Education at letsstart@menzies.edu.au.

Project Leader: Prof Gary Robinson

Coordinator Indigenous parenting research: Ms Yomei Jones

Skills for Play: Ms Carolin Stock.