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Building Systems for Effective Early Intervention and Support for Parents: Extending the Lets Start Program to Aboriginal Families & communities. Gary Robinson, Yomei Jones, Anita D’Aprano, Kate McGuinness, Roger Tipungwuti, Sven Silburn, Steve Zubrick, Bill Tyler, Carolin Stock, Carmen Cubillo.

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Building Systems for Effective Early Intervention and Support for Parents:Extending the Lets Start Program to Aboriginal Families & communities

Gary Robinson, Yomei Jones, Anita D’Aprano, Kate McGuinness, Roger Tipungwuti, Sven Silburn, Steve Zubrick, Bill Tyler, Carolin Stock, Carmen Cubillo.

Menzies School of Health Research


What is Let’s Start?

  • Trial of a targetted intervention for Indigenous parents and 4-6 y.o. children at risk
    • Funded by FaHCSIA, CRCAH, NTG, ARC
  • Funding extended to 2012 by FaHCSIA under FSP & NT Emergency Response
  • Sites to 2009: Malak, Palmerston, Nguiu, Milikapiti, Pirlangimpi, Palumpa, Jabiru
  • Further trials of a redesigned program: pilots from July 2010, implementation in partner sites from 2011
work in groups
Work in Groups
  • Interactive: children playing with parents; parents in control, leaders assist, manage transitions
  • Child: peer play, feelings, stop-think-do, etc.
  • Parents: observe, discuss parenting, child behaviour, strategies, family of origin etc.
evaluation sample

Total Referrals Included in Evaluation Sample N = 225

Tiwi Indigenous = 77

Urban Indigenous = 49

Non Indigenous = 99

Participated in ≥ 1 Sessions = 48

Participated in ≥ 1 Sessions = 15

Participated in ≥ 1 Sessions = 47

Completed ≥ 4 Sessions = 36

Completed ≥ 4 Sessions = 10

Completed ≥ 4 Sessions = 40

Evaluation Sample
  • Engagement strategies need to be tailored for different contexts to improve participation and retention
  • Important differences: urban Aboriginal kids
  • Improved parenting & reduced stress: large effect size K6 measure of parents’ psychological distress
  • Reduced behavioural problems in primary and preschool children:
    • Moderate-large effect sizes at program end, larger effects at 6 months, program outcomes not only sustained but increase
  • Dose-response effect: the more people attend the better the outcomes
  • Variable response to treatment according to gender and Aboriginality: need to revise aspects of intervention strategy
  • The challenge of developing the evidence base is to contextualize process and research strategies while retaining fidelity: structure, intensity & quality
service learning
Service learning
  • Evidence-based programs for remote centres, “hubs”:
    • It is possible to support evidence-based interventions in diverse contexts
    • By developing local partnerships, “integration” with health & education services
    • With centrally provided professional training, support & supervision
  • Develop SEWB protocols for CQI
  • Screening & assessments (d’Aprano)
  • Identify referral pathways for SEWB
  • Redesigning Let’s Start: Parents talk & Interact: a focus of parent mental health and parent-child interaction for 4-8s
  • Imagining my child: early years intervention to strengthen attachment for 0-4s
  • Parenting support from birth to young adulthood
building systems for delivery of professionally supported programs

Community setup: leadership; capacity assessments; agreement between agencies; teambuilding; training; location & resources

Training & capacity-building

Assesment, referral & intake;

datagathering & analysis;

verification of quality, feedback.

Program delivery

Research & evaluation

Ongoing professional support for community team to guide practices of engagement with families and maintain practice standards

Building systems for delivery of professionally supported programs
models for integration cqi systems of practice

Wellbeing and early intervention program

1. Imagining my child 0-4 year olds

2. Let’s Start 4-8 y.o.

3. Adult and child wellbeing services

Program intake &/or ffurther referral.

Models for integration: CQI & systems of practice



1. Review and trial of audit protocols and guidelines: queries about behaviour, social-emotional development & family support.

2. Pilot of assessment and referral to early intervention programs.

Community child health care

Well child checks, healthy under 5s: audit of services according to CQI cycle developed for SEWB, behavioural development & parenting

  • Evaluation, feedback & practice support
    • One21seventy: Continuous quality improvement audit and feedback cycle
  • Let’s Start evaluation program: evaluation and clinical support
  • Developmental screening and assessment pilots
  • Imagining my child: An early intervention to assess and to support early mother-child attachment
  • AEDI:: community level developmental status data on NT children
research and evaluation outputs
Research and evaluation outputs
  • Evaluation Report: Robinson, G., Zubrick, S. R., Silburn, S., Tyler, W., Jones, Y., D’Aprano, A., Cubillo, C., McGuinness, K., Bell, M., Stock, C., 2009, “Let’s Start: Exploring Together. An Early Intervention program for Northern Territory Children and Families. Final Evaluation Report”, Darwin: School for Social and Policy Research, Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University.
  • Let’s Start: Parents talk & Interact. Manual and guidelines - a program for Aboriginal parents and communities (June 2010)
  • Let’s Start working with kids: capacity assessment, training and community engagement (June 2010)
  • Imagining my child: An early intervention trial (2011)
  • Systems for integrated child and family support: Protocols & instruments for SEWB in primary health care (2010/2011)