The PaL program was developed and trialled in the Aboriginal community of Napranum (near Weipa) on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula between 2000 and 2002. The program is the result of a collaborative effort between the Napranum Preschool staff and parents and early childhood professionals.
It was developed in response to requests from parents for activities and strategies they could use at home with their young children to help prepare them for formal schooling.
Before PaL was developed, parents and staff of Napranum Preschool examined some existing parent participation programs for suitability but concluded that it would be better to develop a program appropriate to their own cultural context.
The community believed there was enough expertise amongst preschool staff and parents to develop a program that would include the positive elements and strong concepts of existing programs but provide a better fit for their community.
The parents, extended family members, Indigenous preschool staff, and early childhood professionals worked together to develop the program, recruit staff and ensure the program would fit the rhythm of community life. Feedback sought from parents and community members throughout the trial period was incorporated into revisions of the materials and the operation of the program.
The Rio Tinto Aboriginal Fund supported the initial development and trial of the program in Napranum, Echuca and Newcastle. Rio Tinto Services also partnered with the Napranum PaL Group from 2005 – 2010 as a foundation sponsor, enabling PaL to continue in the trial communities and to expand to additional communities across Australia.
As PaL expanded to an increasing number of communities; the need for an alternative and less resource intensive program developed. ‘BookStart’ is the result of feedback from communities and is now the preferred start up program. ‘BooksnLearning’ continues in several communities and is available as an upgrade on request from community representatives.