The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) who receive books from our Book Supply Program says the program is “absolutely making a difference” in the children’s early developmental learning. For most of these families, many of whom are transient and with meagre financial means, “the last thing on their mind is buying a book for their kids”.
On the outskirts of Alice Springs, and further afield in Aboriginal communities including St Theresa and Amoonguna, nurses from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) are distributing books on a regular basis to babies and their mothers.
“We give them out at key developmental milestones,” explains Catherine Hampton, Nurse Supervisor in the Australian Nurse Family Partnership program run by the not-for-profit organisation. “Just after birth, at around 4 months, 6 months, around 8 or 9 months, and at 12 months.”
Based in the centre of Alice Springs, CAAC — or “Congress”, as it is known in the region — was established in 1974. In the 43 years since then it has “grown and grown”.
The CAAC currently employs over 300 staff, across a broad range of programs, delivering primary health care and related services, including regular home visits to new and expecting mothers and their infants. Since 2009, our Book Supply Program has become part and parcel of these nurses’ busy schedules.
“We divvy the books out as best we can, matching them up according to age.”
The newborns receive the cloth books, which are real favourites, as are the board books which soon follow.
“They are perfect for this age. It’s really easy for the babies to turn the pages. We sit down with each mother and support her own learning and development in reading to her baby.”
As the babies grow, the books become integral to their development. Not only do the babies’ fine motor skills improve, for instance in turning the colourful cardboard pages, but they quickly begin pointing to things they recognise in the books, and in turn start to verbalise them as well, all of which the mums take great pride in.
“The parents really appreciate the books. They get very excited when they receive them as part of our visits.”
The home visit nurses at CAAC consider the books our Foundation supplies as imperative towards closing the literacy gap. “ILF helps correct inequity by assisting to remove barriers around the cost and accessibility of obtaining books” for very young children.
Catherine says that the ILF Book Supply Program is “absolutely making a difference” in the children’s early developmental learning. For most of these families, many of whom are transient and with meagre financial means, “the last thing on their mind is buying a book for their kids”.
“The books are not only a really valuable thing we are able to give them which they can keep, but also have extended our practice … I couldn’t imagine not having the books, they are now so much a part of the work we do here.”