Territory Stories

Let's start: a program for Territory parents and children



Let's start: a program for Territory parents and children

Other title

Let's Start parent child program


Robinson, Gary; Mares, Sarah; Jones, Yomei; Stock, Carolin; Hallenstein, Birgit; Branchut, Virginie


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




This paper describes the 'Let's Start' program for Aboriginal parents and children in the Northern Territory, including its context, rationale, and the evidence of its effectiveness. This program follows on from the 'Ngaripirliga'ajirri - Exploring Together Program' for school aged children in the Tiwi Islands, run from 1999-2004, and the 'Let's Start - Exploring Together for Indigenous Preschools' program for younger children in the Tiwi Islands as well as Darwin, which was run from 2006-2010. Based on this experience, the program has been adapted and redeveloped as the 'Let's Start Parent-Child Program'.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Centre for Child Development and Education, Menzies School of Health Research

Table of contents

Background -- Introduction -- What is Let's Start? -- Early intervention: context and rationale -- Conclusion: the Let's Start approach -- References.




Children, Aboriginal Australian; Services for; Parenting; Study and teaching

Publisher name

Menzies School of Health Research

Place of publication



21 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

File type



9781922104021; 9781922104038

Copyright owner

Check within Publication or with content Publisher.

Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

16 Lets Start Parent Child Program support they give to the childs participation in educational activities. Parents become more aware of their childrens strengths as well as areas where they may need extra support; they become more confident in talking to others about their childrens behaviour and more confident in their own ability to influence outcomes for their children. In some cases, parents are helped to deal with serious problems that affect their own wellbeing and that of their children. Lets Start and NT Schools Since 2005, the Lets Start team has worked with over 40 schools in Darwin, Palmerston and Jabiru and in a number of Top End remote communities in the Tiwi and Victoria-Daly Rivers Shires. Currently our major partners are Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic School (MCS), schools belonging to the Top End Group Schools (TEGS) cluster, and Palumpa (Nganmarriyanga) School in the Palmerston and Rural Cluster of NT DET. Lets Start aims to work closely with these schools to actively engage parents with young children and to support young children in early years classrooms. Lets Start is now the common socialemotional learning and parent engagement program for the early years in these seven schools. It aims to align with and contribute to whole-school approaches to social-emotional learning. 2.3 Children at risk: Care, protection and family support There is powerful evidence that the early years of development set the foundations for competence and coping skills that affect learning, behaviour and health throughout a persons lifetime. Advances in neuroscience show that the quality of care giving has a significant impact on brain development during critical periods of rapid development and growth in the early years. This is more important for childrens longerterm developmental outcomes than previously realised. Neural pathways associated with learning, memory, emotional regulation and social skills are activated and reinforced by the childs interactions with their physical and social environment. The context in which children grow up and the quality of relationships with those close to them (such as parents, families and caregivers) are important for healthy development and educational outcomes later in life. Many environmental influences on development begin before birth, driven by the mothers physical and mental health and her lifestyle, including substance use and exposure to violence. These factors continue to have a profound effect throughout the childs first five years of life when the home/family unit is often the primary source of experience and mediates the childs interaction with the wider world and community. Any discussion of developmental risk has to take into account the social and physical context of the family. Children at risk where the immediate environment is not safe and/or if the family are physically or emotionally unavailable: that is, where the adults are not able to put the needs of their children above their own, or are unable to recognise the impact of their behaviour or lifestyle on the child. Early intervention with children at risk Many factors can interfere with the ability to provide adequate parental care, including domestic or community violence, parental mental illness and substance misuse. Parents who themselves have a history of disrupted or inadequate care in childhood are likely to have more difficulty in parenting adequately. Many Aboriginal children are exposed to cumulative and varied risk factors that potentially impact on their emerging capacities at vital stages of early development. In remote communities or town camps, families endure many adversities exacerbated by limited services, financial stress, poor food and housing. In these circumstances, children are exposed to multiple and cumulative developmental risks. Children at risk include those children in situations of risk and deficient care at home as well as those who already manifest symptoms of impaired development. Children at risk of persistent social, emotional and behavioural difficulties can often be identified in the early years from as young as two years of age. They may display disruptive behaviour, (one of the most common Early Intervention: Context and Rationale