Development within Australia
The Committee of Review of New South Wales Schools 1989 (Carrick Report) emphasised the importance of the early years in laying the foundations for the future development and life options for all children.
The Committee recommended the establishment of parent resource centres to support parents in their parenting role and gave Parents as Teachers as an example of an effective parent evaluation and support program.
In 1991 New South Wales established three Parents as Teachers pilot sites at Tolland (Wagga Wagga), Sadleir and Manly Village Public Schools. The program was expanded in 1995 to 10 sites across NSW.
In July 2001 the Smith Family commenced a 2-year pilot of Parents as Teachers as an extension of the Learning for Life program. This program was based at Broken Hill Public School.
Families First funded the expansion of the program to two sites in Ivanhoe and Goodooga 2001. In 2003 the program was extended through Families First to Portland and Lake Cargelligo.
Parents as Teachers was established in the ACT in 2001 as a pilot program and became permanent in 2003. The program currently operates in two regions. At least 60% of families enrolled are those from vulnerable situations. In 2012, the ACT government committed to a $1.4 million expansion of Parents as Teachers in the ACT.
Macquarie University - Involvement in the PAT Program
In 2007 an agreement was signed between Macquarie University and Parents as Teachers International for Macquarie University to become the Australian Centre for Parents as Teachers, and to provide training for parent educators in Parents as Teachers in Australia.
The first offering of Parents As Teachers training in early 2007 involved participants from new programs operated by Uniting Care Burnside, Centacare, Families First in Bourke, Carcoola Children's Centre and Mary McKillop.
In mid-2007 training sessions began for all 360 caseworkers and their supervisors working for the NSW Department of Human Services. Training of DHS Caseworkers and Supervisors took place over a period from 2007 to 2010. Over this period and beyond, over 900 parent educators and supervisors in total were trained from government and non-government organisations including UnitingCare Burnside, Wesley Mission Australia, Early Childhood Community Health Centres and the Benevolent Society.
Currently over 4000 families are accessing Parents as Teachers in Australia through play sessions, group meetings, home visits and printed information. A total of close to 1000 Australian Parent Educators and Supervisors have been trained in Parents As Teachers at over 170 sites across NSW, and the ACT.
For further information about the Parents as Teachers program, see parentsasteachers.org or the details of Parents as Teachers training in Australia at Parents as Teachers Australian website or go to http://www.iec.mq.edu.au/research/cfrc/parents_as_teachers/pat_training_registration/
Parents as Techers program director in Australia is Dr Rebekah Grace who can be contacted at Rebekah.Grace@mq.edu.au or on (02) 9850 9844.