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Extreme preschool : mobile preschool in Australia’s Northern Territory
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by G Nutton, J Bell, J Fraser, Alison ElliottAlison Elliott, R Andrews, W Louden, J Carapetis
The health of the population is distributed by socio-economic status and thisrelationship is greatest in those populations of greater inequity in early childhoodexperience, education, income and housing. Despite improvements in some healthand education outcomes for Indigenous Australians, knowledge has not yet translatedfrom public health and education policy and programs into equality across theAustralian population. Despite the extensive body of scientific evidenceinternationally to support the impact of early learning and care on health and wellbeingin the life course, very little high calibre research has been conducted withAustralian Indigenous populations to establish the effectiveness of early childhoodinterventions. This study examines the effectiveness of a unique preschool deliverymodel to address the need of small and very remote Indigenous populations. The keyfeatures of the intended program design include training local, Indigenous communitymembers to deliver preschool programs under the support and supervision ofregularly visiting, qualified and registered early childhood teachers from the nearestregional centre. This is a comparative, cohort study of ‘school readiness’ and healthoutcomes for 180 very remote Australian Indigenous children. It offers excellentdescriptive epidemiological baselines, and a unique mix of methodologies foraddressing a complex study of intervention effectiveness. In this paper we focus onthe complex, social and political context of very remote and Indigenous communitiesacross the Northern Territory of Australia and the challenges of educational servicedelivery to improve not only educational but also health and life outcomes.