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

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Menzies School of Health Research

Place of publication



21 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

File type



9781922104021; 9781922104038

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Check within Publication or with content Publisher.

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17Lets Start Parent Child Program causes of referral to Lets Start), but can also be excessively quiet, anxious and withdrawn, passive and unresponsive; such children are more easily overlooked. Children exposed to inadequate care, abuse or neglect, or who are symptomatic in early childhood are more likely to suffer continuing emotional and behavioural difficulties that persist into adolescence and adulthood. These early problems result in increased risk of mental health problems, substance misuse, sexual delinquency, self-harm and even suicide. Intervening early reduces the long-term risk of mental health and conduct disorders, improving childrens path through life, including their attendance and performance at school. Programs aimed at improving early parental care and the quality of early parent-child relationships can have significant and enduring effects on childrens wellbeing. There is evidence that early intervention programs targeting parenting and the quality of the parent-child relationships can improve outcomes both for those children who are already symptomatic and for those at high risk. Ngaripirligaajirri and Lets Start were implemented as programs of early intervention and prevention. By targeting children in the first years of school, they potentially have long term benefits well into adolescence and adulthood. 2.4 Lets Start: Working with child and family services Nationally and in the Northern Territory there has been an increasing policy focus on prevention in response to continuing evidence of the nagative impacts of family dysfunction, impaired parenting and neglect or abuse in early childhood. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Northern Territory are over-represented in the care and protection system at a rate of 3-6 times that of the general population. This may in part be explained by the prevalence of neglect in highly disadvantaged communities (Delfabbro, Hirte, et al, 2010; Northern Territory Government, 2010). Child protection services work with families and communities in the NT when children are identified as at risk of neglect or abuse or as having experienced maltreatment in any form. Childrens development is adversely affected by exposure to adult violence and substance misuse and notification to the Department of Children and Families may occur for these reasons. Children at risk are sometimes placed in foster or kinship care, or offered other forms of intervention to ensure their safety and assist them in recovery from the impact of maltreatment. Lets Start functions independently of national or Northern Territory government agencies. However, over seven years it has received many referrals from child protection services for children still living with parents but known to child protection services or for children removed from parental care and living in kinship or foster care (if continuing and long term or permanent). Children being restored to parental care after a Early intervention and suicide prevention From the late 1990s, the Tiwi Islands experienced an epidemic of suicides. Ngaripirligaajirri and Lets Start were implemented as part of the Tiwi suicide prevention strategy. Many Lets Start families have suffered the death of a family member, a parent or an older sibling. Many families still today struggle with high levels of suicidal behaviour by members of their households. Parents sometimes threaten suicide when under stress. Children as young as four or five have threatened to hang themselves when their needs are not met, when they are teased, rebuked or fear violence by others, or when seeking to control their parents behaviour. However, a recent study of child and adolescent suicides in the NT has shown that over the 10 years of operation of Ngaripirligaajirri and Lets Start, there have been no suicide deaths by Tiwi under the age of 18 years (Robinson, et al, 2012). Early Intervention: Context and Rationale