Abstract: The Let’s Start project was a trial to implement the Exploring Together Preschool Program (ETPP) in the Northern Territory (NT) for Indigenous and other parents and children. The evidence supports the conclusion that a further extension of services such as those provided by the Let’s Start ETPP is justified, based on levels of participation generated to date, needs expressed by parents and practitioners, and positive program outcomes. This should be done in the context of a strengthened program of research to evaluate outcomes, provide ongoing development support and increase Indigenous commencements, by developing evidence-based processes of assessment and referral that can be implemented as part of routine school and health centre business. However, for urban Indigenous communities and some remote contexts, issues of scale combined with reduced retention limiting effective exposure to treatment need to be taken into account by considering modified or alternative intervention models. Our recommendations are that: 1. Charles Darwin University and Agency Partners work together to develop collaborative partnerships in prevention across health and education sectors aiming at improved alignment of targeted prevention activity with universal service provision in (a) routine child health care, and (b) a system of school-based social-emotional assessment at preschool and transition intakes. 2. Funded partnerships be established between the parenting and prevention research program, primary health care, early education providers and other community based providers, to secure ongoing implementation and evaluation of parenting-focused prevention and early intervention strategies in urban and remote contexts. 3. Agency Partners consider extending a general intake program (Darwin and other larger population centres) based on referral networks in early education, health and community services. 4. Promotional strategies targeting communities, families and practitioners to improve engagement and retention of parents in any further development of the Let’s Start or similar programs, need to be adequately resourced. 5. Additional evaluation measures be adopted to test a wider range of child and parent outcomes and assist with developmental screening at referral, in future program evaluation. 6. A modified program on the Tiwi islands be further developed and evaluated, with consideration of its application to other remote contexts and growth towns. 7. Proposed variants of the program be consolidated, with appropriate resources, materials and protocols, that focus on (a) Indigenous parenting, (b) parent-child interaction, and (c) in-school models for extension to small remote communities and contexts of low parent-school engagement. 8. Variants of Let’s Start ETPP be developed within a model for centralised provision of training, clinical supervision and evaluative support for delivery of preventive child and family support in under-resourced remote communities. This forms a relevant model for providing parenting services in integrated child and family support centres in NT growth towns.
Robinson, G., Zubrick, S. R., Silburn, S., Tyler, W., Jones, Y., D’Aprano, A., McGuinness, K., Cubillo, C., Bell, M., Stock, C., 2009, Let’s Start: Exploring Together – An early intervention program for Northern Territory children and families – Final evaluation report, Report, viewed 18 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3018.