Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Generational change: Families as First Teachers program succeeding in Katherine

A key Territory Labor Government early childhood program has proven hugely popular with Katherine families, who have embraced it to give their children the best start in life.

Minister for Education Eva Lawler officially opened the Katherine Families as First Teachers site today, where 22 families are accessing early learning and family support to better prepare their children for school.

“All children have the right to a great start in life, which is why our government has prioritised investment in early childhood,” Ms Lawler said.

“We know those early years between birth and age five are critical to a child’s future success, which is why we are investing in growing the FaFT program to ensure children are provided with the foundations for a bright future.”

The Katherine FaFT is located at MacFarlane Primary School and is one of 38 across the Territory, the majority in remote areas. Expansion to a further 14 further sites is planned by 2020.

“FaFT aims to improve children’s early development, enhance their lifelong education, health and wellbeing, and support families in their roles as their children’s first teachers, Ms Lawler said.

Merlyn Smith, mum to two-year-old Alkhem, is one of the 22 families who have been attending the Katherine FaFT.

“We like going to FaFT because it gives Alkem a friendly transition into a school setting which is also his big brother’s school,” Ms Smith said.

“The FaFT program is fun and flexible enough to fit into your family’s needs while providing maximum opportunity to play and interact with other children in an early childhood setting.”

Ms Lawler said following the recent release of the 10 year Starting Early for a Better Future Early Childhood Development Plan, the Territory Government had invested an extra $35.6 million in early childhood, which will help fund the expansion of FaFT and Child and Family Centres.

“Investing in children isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do for the Territory’s future,” she said.

“We saw education funding slashed by $135 million under the previous CLP government and teachers and support staff sacked. We are fixing those mistakes.”

The expansion of the FaFT program was a key election promise from Territory Labor. Since coming to government in 2016, 11 additional sites have opened.

Media contact: Kim Stephens 0417 683 144