Remote Indigenous communities to benefit from early-childhood learning program

28 May 2014

HIPPY, the parenting and early learning program that has achieved extraordinary results in helping children prepare for school, is expanding throughout remote and regional Australia, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence, which manages HIPPY for the Australian Government through HIPPY Australia, welcomed today's announcement by Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley of the shortlist of 31 communities for the expansion of the program planned for 2015.

Among the 31 are Thursday Island and Bamaga, the first Torres Strait communities to be shortlisted for the program, while most of the other 29 communities are also in remote areas, in northern and western Australia.

HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) is a highly successful two-year tutoring program that helps parents in disadvantaged communities in their role as their child's first teacher. Trained tutors visit families in their homes during the year before school and the first year at school.

HIPPY Australia National Manager, Marian Pettit, said, "We are pleased that more and more families in remote and regional communities across Australia will have access to HIPPY. Supporting parents to support their children to learn is a great investment in the future of those children, and their communities.

"Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Tony Nicholson, said, "HIPPY is one of the most outstanding programs for ensuring that disadvantaged youngsters get a good start in school. And that's because it involves parents in the process."

Australian research has shown that children who take part in HIPPY generally begin the program with numeracy and literacy skills around 30 per cent behind the Australian average, but after two years they have caught up.

HIPPY already operates in 75 communities around the country, under the auspices of the Brotherhood of St Laurence and HIPPY Australia. The 25 new HIPPY locations will be announced later in the year, following a community information process involving visits to each shortlisted site by HIPPY Australia.

"HIPPY Australia is looking forward to visiting the shortlisted communities over the next three months, talking to community people and local service providers," said Ms Pettit.