Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

‘Exploring Together’ at the Tiwi Islands

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today welcomed the results of an innovative Early Intervention program, which has assisted Tiwi Islands children over the past three years.

“The Australian Government provided $78,000 under the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy for the Ngaripirliga’ajirri program, which has helped 100 primary school children and their families to address acute behavioural difficulties at an early stage of the children’s lives,” Senator Patterson said.

Ngaripirliga’ajirri is a Tiwi word meaning ‘helping each other to clear a path,’ and it is very relevant to the program’s aims and outcomes.

“The Ngaripirliga’ajirri program through the strong partnership between the Tiwi Island Health Services project team, Tiwi schools and Charles Darwin University, has delivered real improvements in the children’s lives.

“As an indication of its success many parents have said that through the program’s encouragement of positive and assertive parenting strategies the behaviour of their children has improved.

“The teachers in the schools have also noted a marked improvement in the behaviour of participating children.”

The program is based at the Tiwi schools on Bathurst and Melville Islands with the project team working closely with teachers who have identified children who have behavioural difficulties which would benefit from the program.

Evaluation of parents’ wellbeing and parenting and of children’s behaviour is conducted before and after the program with a further assessment six months later.

“The work undertaken by the Tiwi Island project team and Charles Darwin University has contributed significantly to the increasing evidence that well-targeted early childhood interventions make a real difference,” Senator Patterson said.

“This partnership has created a sustainable assistance program which is both culturally appropriate and professionally competent. It is a very good example of what can be achieved by well-targeted programs in Indigenous settings.”