Better Beginnings, Australia

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Programme name Country Date of information
Better Beginnings Family Literacy Program Australia 02/12/2019


Question Answer
About the Organisation  
Organisation name State Library of Western Australia
Organisation address 25 Francis St, Perth, WA, 6000
Goal/objective An initiative of the State Library of Western Australia, Better Beginnings is a state-wide family literacy program that supports and involves parents in their child’s early literacy and language learning. The program encourages parents to share books, songs and rhymes every day from birth, to support them in building the early  literacy skills their child needs to become a good reader, and be ready to succeed to their fullest potential at school and throughout their lives.
Contact Person Rebecca Ong
Position of Contact Person Manager Participation and Learning
Contact email Alternative contact email:
Contact Telephone Number 618 9427 3246   Alternative contact telephone number: 618 9427 3111
Organisation website  
Organisation type State Government
How many staff does your organisation employ? 100
About the Programme  
Basic details  
Programme name Better Beginnings Family Literacy Program
Country/Province/City where the programme takes place Western Australia
Year started 2004
Funding sources State Government, Local Governments and Corporate partnership
Geographic coverage Statewide (delivered in all Western Australian local governments)
Other comparable networks National and State Libraries Australia: Literacy and Learning Community of Practice
Purpose of the programme  
Not for profit? Yes, not for profit
Religious or political purpose? None
Local consistency of model  
Is your programme model consistent across your geographic area, or are there regional differences? The Better Beginnings program model is consistent across Western Australia, however there is some flexibility depending on local capacity and the relationship formed between public libraries, local child health nurses and schools. This flexibility ensures that the program can be delivered in a way that best meets the needs of the community, and makes best use of the available services and their capacity.     For example, in all local governments, child health nurses deliver reading packs to families at a child’s 8 week infant health check. Some public library staff may also attend new parent sessions led by child health nurses, where available, to talk about early literacy and promote the local public library.  
Book Packs  
What are the contents of your gifting pack? Birth reading pack: Board book – Baby Ways. Early literacy information booklet for parents. Nursery rhyme lyric booklet and audio CD. Nursery rhyme wall frieze.   Two year old reading pack: Picture book. Nursery rhyme fridge magnet. Sing With Me booklet including nursery rhyme lyrics, audio CD, book recommendations for two year olds, and early literacy messages and information for parents.   Four year old reading pack: Picture book. Literacy activity relating to the picture book. Read With Me booklet for parents including home literacy activity ideas, book recommendations for four year olds, and early literacy messages and information for parents  
Is your programme offered free of charge to all families? Yes
Partnerships and Delivery  
What are your primary ‘points of contact’ with the population you serve? Library, Health clinic, School
Who gifts/hands-out your pack to families?   Healthcare workers. Librarians. Kindergarten teachers (at age 4, prior to a child’s first year of full-time school)
Please list your other programme partnerships Western Australian local governments through public libraries.
State Government Department of Health (specifically Child and Adolescent Community Health Service and Western Australian Country Health Service divsions): Community and Child Health Nurses collaborate with their local public libraries to distribute reading packs to families at their child’s 8 week infant health check.
Kindergartens and schools: Teachers and school staff collaborate with their local public library to distribute reading packs to 4 year old children in Kindergarten.
If your programme uses volunteers, please give some more details The State Library does not use volunteers in the coordination of Better Beginnings. Public libraries may use volunteers to provide some support their delivery of the program, however, this decision is made at a local level.
Is the programme universal or targeted? Universal within Western Australia.
How many children does your programme serve a year? Each year Better Beginnings reaches approximately 96% of families with a baby, and 99% of families with child aged four years. Current annual reach is: 30,000 families with a baby, 38,000 families with a 4 year old child, 20,000 families with a two year old child.  
At what age/gifting period do children receive your programme. Birth – 6 months, 2 – 4 years, Reading packs are specifically gifted at birth, two and four year old age milestones.
Diversity provision  
Does your program include provisions or resources for children with special needs? Yes. A reading pack is available for families where either the parent or child has a vision impairment. The pack contains a braille edition of the Baby Ways board book, an accompanying audio CD, and inclusive early literacy guidance for parents, produced in collaboration with VisAbility, a disability service in Western Australia.  
Additionally families can access a borrowable Baby Ways Touch and Feel Kit from public libraries, which contains additional books and tactile resources suitable for families experiencing sensory challenges.  
What language populations does your programme serve? All resources are currently produced in English.  
Messages relating to the importance of talking, reading and singing in a family’s home language, and promotion of library collections and resources in languages other than English, are delivered by health and library practitioners through their one to one engagement with each family.  
In the future, opportunities to produce resources in Western Australian Aboriginal languages will be explored.  
Evaluation and research  
Have you conducted programme evaluation or research (including longitudinal)? If yes, has this evaluation/research been published?  Better Beginnings is independently evaluated through a longitudinal study by Edith Cowan University. The findings demonstrate the positive impact of the program on influencing the behaviours and attitudes of parents in reading and singing with their children from birth. The evaluation reports have been published and are available to view on the Better Beginnings website:
Additionally, in 2016 the State Library of Western Australia commissioned a Social Return on Investment analysis to measure the social value created by Better Beginnings. The report identified that for the equivalent of every $1.00 AUD invested in Better Beginnings, $5.64 AUD is returned to the Western Australian community in social value.   


21 March 2019 Trial Meeting

Linda Thorne: ‘Better Beginnings, Partnerships’ 

March 2019 – Trial meetings