HIPPYs lend helping hand

A LOCAL indigenous elder who has dedicated her career to Koorie education and training is ecstatic with the changes she has seen taking place.

Vera Briggs, who works as a Koorie engagement support officer, believes a specifically-indigenous education program in the Latrobe Valley is helping to create those changes.

About three years on since the Latrobe region was chosen as a trial site for the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters, Ms Briggs said more indigenous parents and children were embracing education.

“The success of that program has been really phenomenal for our community,” Ms Briggs said.

“I believe the beauty of it is they’re (the parents are) wanting to be involved with the HIPPY program because they want to give their child the best start to their education.

“They want to support their child in their education, because them growing up, they didn’t get that support from their parents, because a lot of the parents were still a bit apprehensive about schools and programs and… they would never get involved.

“Whereas I am finding the younger generation have got a better mindset of what’s best for their child and because the parents are the ones delivering the program to their child at home, it strengthens the relationship between the child and the mother.”

Last week parents, children and HIPPY tutors got together to celebrate the program alongside the theme, ‘everywhere learning is fun’.

Latrobe HIPPY coordinator Jade Walsh said it was a great way to bring the community together.

She said the program – delivered in the Valley through Anglicare Victoria – aimed to build confidence in children and give the parents knowledge that “they’re the child’s first teachers”.

“We’re just trying to empower the community, really and strengthen them and give them the confidence to go out there and teach their kids,” Ms Walsh said.

HIPPY is a two-year, home-based, early learning and parenting program for families with young children.

HIPPY tutors deliver books and activities to families and show the parents how to introduce the books and explain the activities to their child.

Ms Walsh and Ms Briggs agreed the program was achieving what it set out to do by getting the children school-ready.

They each said kinder and school teachers were able to identify the children involved in the HIPPY program due to their positive attitude towards school.

“To see them going off to school after having an experience like that and being confident – they are no longer alone in the school ground,” Ms Briggs said.

“They’re confident now and they can get along with other children; they know how to interact and their social skills are really good, because they’re used to being with other children.”

Ms Walsh said the Koorie community was experiencing a big change regarding education.

“Although it is slow, it’s happening, so that’s a big thing for our community,” she said.