HIPPY celebration for happy graduates

An innovative school readiness program for pre-school children has celebrated the achievements of its latest cohort of graduates.

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services. The Brotherhood of St Laurence holds the licence to operate HIPPY in Australia.
In Mildura the program is delivered by Mallee District Aboriginal Services and a graduation ceremony this week celebrated the achievements of 10 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families completing the program this year.
Families take part in the HIPPY program over two years, usually starting in the child’s kindergarten year and continuing during the first year of primary school.
MDAS Education Liaison Officer Fiona Turner said the primary aim of the program was supporting engagement between parents and children to improve school readiness skills and social relationships.
“But the exciting thing about HIPPY is that its impact is so much wider than that – we see it every day that the positive effects are not only on the young people, but on the whole family,” Mrs Turner said.
“We see children at the beginning of the two-year program who find it difficult to concentrate for very long, and as they progress they want to read books, they want to learn, they’re curious and conversational,” she said.
“But from the other perspective, we see our parents and our program tutors, who are also parents in the program, building confidence in themselves.”
The home-based parenting and early childhood program is open to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families and helps parents and carers as their child’s first teacher to further develop their skills through a mix of home visits and parents’ groups.
“Most importantly, HIPPY supports families to nurture happy, confident, curious kids who love to learn,” Mrs Turner said.
Independent analysis of HIPPY has found it narrows the gap in school readiness and in the long term it will be an important step towards Closing the Gap on reading, writing and numeracy achievements for Koori children.
Mrs Turner said it was not only the achievements of the children and families that were celebrated at this week’s graduation.
“We also have two graduate tutors – Bobbi and Maria, who will complete their two-year contract as HIPPY Tutors at the end of this year,” she said.
“HIPPY Tutors are generally people who have little or no work experience at the outset and are given the support and training they need to deliver the program to families as well as engage in a tertiary qualification.
“So, by the end of their contract they are job-ready and able to go onto other careers or training which has definitely been the case with Bobbi and Maria, who completed Certificate IV in Community Services while they were HIPPY tutors.”
Expressions of interest in the 2019 HIPPY Program can be made by contacting Fiona Turner at the MDAS Early Years Hub.

  • HIPPY tutors (L-R) Teonie Muggeridge, Bobbi-Jean Sailor, Maria Beckwith and Rianne Bowden.  Bobbi and Maria will soon complete their contract as HIPPY tutors, while Teonie and Rianne will continue delivering the program in 2019

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