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

18 Lets Start Parent Child Program period of mandated removal are also referred to Lets Start. Lets Start is able to help parents and children deal with the challenges of reconnection after separation. Integrating services for children and families Families and children access and interact with a range of services in health, education and child welfare delivered by the government and non-government sectors. At risk children and families and those with high and complex needs are likely to interact with a large number of different kinds of services. Universal services are those that everyone uses, and in some cases are required to use. These include childcare, preschool and primary or secondary schools and primary health care. Preventive services are designed to identify children who are at risk of later problems and to reduce those risks by supporting parents or children or targeting mental health, behavioural or parenting problems and reducing their impact on the childs development. Prevention aims to improve the quality of care-giving by parents or the functioning of families that have problems. Preventive programs may be provided on a wide basis to many families in communities, or they may be targeted at those families with higher needs and multiple problems. Targeted programs aim to provide intervention and support for children and families already experiencing difficulties, with Early Intervention: Context and Rationale symptoms and signs of disorder or illness. There are targeted services for people with special needs linked to universal services. Lets Start is a targeted preventive intervention. Through its referral process, it identifies and proactively seeks to include those already in difficulty, including children with early behavioural problems and parents struggling to cope with management of their behaviour. However, although designed as a targeted intervention, Lets Start provides multiple benefits and learning opportunities that make it suitable for all parents wishing to attend. Over 10 years on the Tiwi Islands, it is estimated that half or more of all Tiwi families have had some contact with the program. It is able to achieve very wide reach in small communities over time. However, in the Northern Territorys remote communities, there are many gaps in services, and many families who are provided with no support, even though parents are experiencing difficulty or a child is manifestly at risk. In some communities, there are many flyin or visiting services, attached to schools, health centres or child protection. There is usually no coordination between them. Importantly, no one service is responsible for coordination or continuity of care: for seeing that there is further support or care after any particular service is accessed. Children and families with complex needs fall through the cracks between services that are functionally unintegrated and discontinuous. Preventive approaches are often best done through collaboration between education, health and community services. Because nearly all children attend school, prevention often works best from schools as a base; however, such prevention programs often also need to access expertise in mental health or medical care. It is sometimes necessary to seek assessment for specific problems or to make referrals to specialist services to deal with different sources of risk: for example from parental mental illness or substance misuse: or risk within the child, such as hearing loss and language or other developmental delay. There needs to be sufficient coordination between services to ensure that children and families have continuing opportunities to access such services or assistance as need arises. Over the last seven years, the Lets Start research team has worked with schools and preschools, community health centres, childcare centres and child protection services and has received support from the Land Councils, Shire Councils and many other community councils and organisations. The team has been able to explore options for integration of preventive services across sectors both around coordination of the service response and around the needs of particular children and families. Equally importantly, the team has systematically redeveloped its approach to ensure that it can meet the needs of Indigenous children at different ages, with a range of difficulties and in diverse community settings.