19 July 2013

The Brotherhood of St Laurence welcomes today's announcement by the Federal Government of a significant expansion of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) program to support Indigenous families in an additional 50 communities across Australia.

"The parent is the child's first teacher, and HIPPY supports parents to get their kids ready to learn at school. The Brotherhood of St Laurence has been running the program since 1998, and it has been shown to have outstanding results for preschool children and their parents," said Acting Executive Director Rob Hudson.

"This significant commitment of funds means that more than 2000 children will be supported to prepare for school.

"The announcement by Federal Ministers Kate Ellis and Jenny Macklin of an additional $55.7 million will support expansion of the program to include 50 new sites and will bring the number of HIPPY sites supported to 100. An initial 25 locations have been announced after consultation with local communities by the Brotherhood.

"Now that these initial 25 communities have been identified, we look forward to working closely with local agencies and community leaders to get the program up and running early next year," said Mr Hudson. "I've visited several of these communities myself, and I know that the program will build on the strong work these communities are already doing.

"The remaining 25 sites will be selected during 2014 and will commence in early 2015.

"HIPPY closes the gap in school readiness between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and the Australian norm," said Mr Hudson. "A rigorous independent research evaluation has shown that at the beginning of the program HIPPY children’s numeracy and literacy skills were, on average, up to 30 per cent below the Australian norm. But after two years of HIPPY, children’s cognitive development was the same as the Australian average.

"The focus on Indigenous families by the Federal Government follows the results of the research evaluation in 2011, led by Monash University, which showed that the program had significant promise for Indigenous families.

"We know from the evaluation that the program can be highly effective for Indigenous families, particularly when delivered in close partnership with local communities," said Mr Hudson.

HIPPY is a two-year, home-based parenting and early childhood enrichment program that engages home tutors from local communities to work with parents to prepare children for school. The program also offers some parents pathways to employment and community leadership.

Download the 2011 HIPPY Evaluation (PDF file, 1.7 MB)