NPA cottons on to award winning learning program

13th June 2013

An early childhood parent engagement program which began in Napranum on the west coast of Cape York in 2001 has taken out a Queensland Reconciliation Award in 2011.

The Napranum Parents and Leaning (PaL) Group won award in the Community Organisation category last Tuesday, May 30.  PaL director Corine Matasia said program workers were in the NPA last week, visiting Umagico, Injinoo, Bamaga, Seisia and New Mapoon,in an effort to start the program in these areas.

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PaL is a home-based program that empowers parents and family members and supports them as they engage in their child’s early education, helping family members build literacy and numeracy skills.  Tutors visit the family homes on a weekly basis armed with activity kits.  “The tutors work with parents to engage kids at home at their own pace, going out to homes once per week,” Ms Matasia said.  “Each activity kit has a good-quality story book, with activities that tie in with the story, using activity cards and step-by-step instructions.  “For example, one of the activities uses a coloured cotton-reel game, in which parents and kids follow a colour code in a creative activity that helps develop maths skills.  “The program grows with the child’s age, and helps keep parents in touch with what their kids should be learning.”

Ms Matasia said winning the Reconciliation Award in the Community Organisation category had come as a shock. “We’ve been nominated for awards before, but it came as a total shock to receive a text message in Coen from two members in Cairns saying we had won the award,” Ms Matasia said.  The award presentation was held at the Reef Casino in Cairns, with Premier Anna Bligh congratulating the winners in each of the five categories.  “The 2011 winners showcase reconciliation projects across a diverse range of industries, and encompass an airline company, a small parent education program in Far North Queensland, a high school, a community historical precinct and a project working towards reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates,” Premier Bligh said.

“I congratulate each of the winners and commend them for their dedication to reconciliation in Queensland and improving the lives of Indigenous Queenslanders.”

Ms Matasia said PaL delivered the program Australia-wide, but it sprung originally from an idea back in 2001 in Napranum. “We received a grant from Rio Tinto to look at starting a home instruction program, but the program we looked at was far too structured. “It was then that one of the teachers, an elder called Lurline Callope, suggested we make our own program.”  In 2004, Napranum PaL Group was established as a not for profit company to protect the intellectual property of the Indigenous community in which it was developed. It is now responsible for developing, licensing, administering and managing the program in Indigenous communities across Australia.

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