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Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 1




CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 32












12 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 34HIPPY Australia acknowledges Elders and Traditional Owners of the lands and seas across Australia.The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services. The Brotherhood of St Laurence holds the license to operate HIPPY in Australia.


Brotherhood of St LaurenceLevel 1, 219 Johnston StreetFitzroy VIC 3065Australiap 61 3 9445 2400e [email protected] hippyaustralia.bsl.org.au

Copyright © Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020

The authors of this report are Sharon Sparks, Sara Sterling, John Hartshorn.


CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 54


The Brotherhood of St Laurence(BSL) would like to acknowledge and thank the children, families and HIPPY staff from the following sites for their participation in the Children’s Voices Listening Tour. This project would not have been possible without their active involvement, assistance and support:

HIPPY Albury Wodonga (VIC)

HIPPY Broken Hill (NSW)

HIPPY Burdekin (QLD)

HIPPY Dallas Broadmeadows (VIC)

HIPPY Darwin North (NT)

HIPPY Davoren Park and Elizabeth (SA) (combined)

HIPPY Fairfield and Cabramatta (NSW) (combined)

HIPPY Geraldton (WA)

HIPPY Kentish (TAS)

HIPPY Launceston (TAS)

HIPPY Palmerston (NT)

HIPPY Palm Island (QLD)

HIPPY Rockingham (WA)

Additional thanks to HIPPY Wyong (NSW) and Onkaparinga (SA) who put up their hand to assist but visits were cancelled due to bushfires.

BSL also acknowledges the leadership of Sharon Sparks in developing the BSL’s Voice of the Child practice over the past four years. The HIPPY Australia Team within the BSL and the HIPPY Network is supporting this action research.

The funding for the development of the Children’s Voice practice was provided through the Warrawong Foundation and the Australian Department of Social Services.


BSL Brotherhood of St Laurence

CALD Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

DSS Department of Social Services

ETO Efforts to Outcomes (HIPPY Australia’s performance management system)

HIPPY Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters

RPC Research and Policy Centre (Brotherhood of St Laurence)

Throughout this document we refer to parents, however, we would like to make it clear that this could refer to all other carers of the children who participated.


The Brotherhood of St Laurence recognises the importance of listening and incorporating children’s voices into the design and delivery of children and family services and programs. In 2015, BSL commenced a ground-breaking investigation into approaches to listening to children’s voice through its early learning and parenting program–HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters). This report details the findings from the second Children’s Listening Tour in 2019. Using new action research techniques and theory, the 2019 Tour captured the thoughts, perceptions and comments of 188 HIPPY children from 15 diverse HIPPY communities as well as insights from 159 parents who teach their child HIPPY.

The key findings from the children were:

• children see themselves as ‘active learners’ and enjoy building their skills;

• the importance of relationships and doing HIPPY with their parent/carer; and

• reading is the best thing about HIPPY as it is time with their parent/carer and develops their child agency.

• children were inspired by the HIPPY curriculum and the person they did HIPPY with.

The key insights from HIPPY parents are:

• reinforcing the importance of group meetings to parents in particular the skills, connections and learning about their child;

• home visits provide help, confidence, understanding and learning for parents;

• a developing warmth towards their child and recognition of the child’s voice through HIPPY; and

• social connections and friendship were important outcomes.

The main recommendations for gathering and implementing children’s voices into programs and services are:

• children are able and willing to articulate their program experience and journey;

• the importance to both the child and parent of a structured approach in developing relationships; and

• reading is key to a child’s growing agency and development.

CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 76

01The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) is committed to an Australia free of poverty. To enable people to fully participate in social, civic and economic life, their voices must be heard in the design and delivery of services and programs. BSL listens to the voices of people and incorporates their voice into our programs and services. Over the past four years, BSL has focused on developing our practice so that the voice of children is heard and that our programs and services achieve maximum impact on their lives.

To develop the Children’s Voices practice, BSL has utilised its flagship early learning and parenting program HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters). HIPPY is a two-year, home-based early learning and parenting program that works with families with young children in the year before starting school and the child’s first year of school. HIPPY empowers families to take an active role in their children’s education, development and overall well-being. The program builds upon family strengths so families can provide their child with the necessary skills and confidence to begin school with a positive attitude towards learning.

In 2019, HIPPY Australia, a team in BSL, conducted its second Children’s Voices Listening Tour. This report presents the findings of the listening tour that sought to:

• Promote children’s rights and gain feedback by capturing the voices of children to deepen our understanding of their HIPPY experience;

• Capture the parent–child relationship, particularly a parent’s experience of being their child’s first teacher; and

• Contribute to Australian best practice in hearing young children’s voices.


CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 98

02Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asserts that children and young people have the right to freely express themselves and there is an obligation for families, schools and local communities to listen and facilitate engagement with children and young people on matters that affect them (Tisdall & Cuevas-Parra, 2019).

At BSL, this is something we take seriously. While European countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway are advocating for children’s participation in decision making (Haglund, 2015; Thornberg, 2012), very few research projects in Australia are aiming to capture young children’s voices. (Clark & Stathum, 2005; Clark, 2011; McNaughton, Smith & Laurence 2003; Good beginnings 2013; City of Greater Bendigo 2008).

In 2016, BSL initiated the first Children’s Voices Listening Tour which aimed to capture the experience and the voices of children completing HIPPY across Australia. The data collected informed HIPPY Australia’s 2017 curriculum review with the inclusion of child agency and participation in the HIPPY curriculum framework. This project was the first time children’s voices have been specifically studied in relation to HIPPY activities, enjoyment, experience and child outcomes (Department of Social Services & Acil Allen, 2018; Goldstein, 2017; Liddell, Barnett, Roost, McEachran, 2011). A Warrawong research grant, with additional support from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, allowed Sharon Sparks to investigate children’s participation from world renowned leaders in the United Kingdom and Sweden in 2017. This research informed the second Children’s Voices Listening Tour and development of a practice guide for engaging with young children’s voices.

BSL is proud to be leading nationally in promoting children’s participation in program design. BSL seeks to foster the implementation of children’s voice practice across Australia.

At BSL, we believe engaging children’s voices is particularly important. We believe in a focus on child agency and hearing the input of children doing HIPPY is of immense value—particularly when working with diverse and vulnerable communities. Hearing the voices of children and parents is embedded into the HIPPY program logic and its quality and outcomes framework relating to:

• Children develop a love of learning early; and

• Families are empowered and engaged in their children’s learning.

The 2019 listening tour focused on children’s experiences in HIPPY. The tour trialled a new framework for engaging with children’s voices, as well as age appropriate play activities to gain feedback, with improved children’s participation and data analysis methods.


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For the 2019 listening tour, HIPPY sites volunteered to be involved in the project. All 100 HIPPY sites were given the opportunity to express their interest by email. HIPPY Australia also developed criteria to help identify the sites that were eventually selected. The criteria aimed to select sites that accurately represented the diversity of families who do HIPPY including people from Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, CALD backgrounds and children from all states and territories.

15 sites participated in the Children’s Voices Listening Tour:

Figure 1: Map of the sites we visited.

01 HIPPY Albury Wodonga (VIC)

02 HIPPY Broken Hill (NSW)

03 HIPPY Burdekin (QLD)

04 HIPPY Dallas Broadmeadows (VIC)

05 HIPPY Darwin North (NT)

06 HIPPY Davoren Park & Elizabeth (SA)


07 HIPPY Fairfield & Cabramatta (NSW)


08 HIPPY Geraldton (WA)

09 HIPPY Kentish (TAS)

10 HIPPY Launceston (TAS)

11 HIPPY Palmerston (NT)

12 HIPPY Palm Island (QLD)

13 HIPPY Rockingham (WA)








09 10




CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 1312

04At each site HIPPY Australia heard from a range of children who had participated in HIPPY over recent years. Figure 3 shows a gender and age breakdown across the sties. While the majority of children consulted were age four and five, there were a few children outside of the HIPPY target age range who had completed the program in

Figure 3: Consulted HIPPY Children – distribution across sites and HIPPY age groups


years prior. Therefore, their voices have also been included as the focus of this listening tour was children’s voices and agency. There were also a few children whose gender or age was not stated through the consultation. Their voices were also included.

These sites represent a broad cross-section of HIPPY sites across the country. Figure 2 shows a demographic profile of each of the sites that we visited. Each profile shows the percentage of children that identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and the percentage of children who identify as from a CALD background. Where sites ran a joint event the demographics of both sites is indicated individually.

Figure 2: Demographic information

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

CALD background


Albury Wodonga

Broken Hill Burdekin Dallas Broadmeadows

Darwin North

Davoren Park Elizabeth Fairfield Cabramatta Geraldton

Kentish Launceston Palmerston Palm Island Rockingham




Albury Wodonga (VIC)

9 9 1 2 0 17 19

Broken Hill (NSW) 5 8 0 3 6 4 13

Burdekin (QLD) 7 7 0 5 6 3 14

Dallas Broadmeadows (VIC)

10 2 3 1 4 10 15

Darwin North (NT) 4 4 0 2 4 2 8

Davoren Park and Elizabeth (SA)

7 10 0 3 8 6 17

Fairfield and Cabramatta (NSW)

12 10 0 4 10 8 22

Geraldton (WA) 8 9 1 0 12 6 18

Kentish (TAS) 3 3 0 3 3 0 6

Launceston (TAS) 8 9 0 4 6 7 17

Palmerston (NT) 7 2 0 3 3 3 9

Palm Island (QLD) 8 1 1 5 2 3 10

Rockingham (WA) 4 12 4 12 4 4 20

TOTAL 92 86 2 47 (25%) 68 (36%) 73 (39%) 188

CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 1514

HIPPY Site Parent/Carer

HIPPY Albury Wodonga (VIC) 14

HIPPY Broken Hill (NSW) 6

HIPPY Burdekin (QLD) 14

HIPPY Dallas Broadmeadows (VIC) 11

HIPPY Darwin North (NT) 7

HIPPY Davoren Park and Elizabeth (SA) (combined) 15

HIPPY Fairfield and Cabramatta (NSW) (combined) 21

HIPPY Geraldton (WA) 15

HIPPY Kentish (TAS) 6

HIPPY Launceston (TAS) 16

HIPPY Palmerston (NT) 8

HIPPY Palm Island (QLD) 8

HIPPY Rockingham (WA) 18


While the primary focus was on capturing children’s voices, HIPPY staff appreciated the opportunity to talk to parents about their relationship with their child, new skills that they had learnt and their experience of HIPPY. Figure 1.4 shows a breakdown of parent participation across the sites. This information is used to amplify some of what we heard from children in the listening tour.

Figure 4: Consulted HIPPY Parent/Carer – distribution across sites


CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 1716

METHODOLOGY HOW WE PLANNED IT 05Our approach was modelled on Alison Clarke’s approach to children’s consultation; particularly the mosaic method (Clarke 2011, Clarke and Moss 2005). This method ensures children have a range of engagement options which appeal to different learning styles (Gardner 1983; and Kolb 1984) and is considered best practice in engaging children’s voices.

In the activities designed for this listening tour, children were given the opportunity to use different stimuli, including visual prompts, free drawing, and other mediums to express themselves. The activities were designed with a mix of ‘prompt’ (where HIPPY Australia asked for feedback about specific things) and ‘free text’ (where children were free to express themselves) activities. The free text activities were designed so that all HIPPY children involved in the listening tour could take part even if they did not feel like talking. We also engaged a puppet ‘Tassie Tiger’ to ensure that children’s imaginations were stimulated, and they did not feel intimidated talking directly to HIPPY Australia staff.

How we interacted with children at each site was important to ensure children felt comfortable talking about the program. The methodology was designed to let children select activities that they felt comfortable doing themselves. Children were able to express their views in various styles to suit their ages, abilities, and backgrounds. This empowered children to give feedback about their experience of HIPPY. Their participation was their choice.

Three to four HIPPY Australia staff members attended each site visit and worked with local HIPPY staff to set up activity stations and consultation areas. The data analysis was undertaken in-house by HIPPY Australia Quality and Performance Team.

Figure 5 examines all the activities we undertook in detail and explains why they were included.

Figure 5: Listening Tour Activities


In this activity children were introduced to a puppet ‘Tassie Tiger’ to talk about what they liked, didn’t like and what they have learnt during their time participating in HIPPY. The puppet was used as an intermediary to put children at ease who may not be used to talking to researchers or HIPPY Australia staff. This was designed to be a prompt activity where the tiger asked children questions about their experience. Clarke and Moss (2008) talk about the use of toys as an intermediary to put children at ease.


In this activity, children were asked to draw anything to do with HIPPY. During this task, HIPPY Australia staff asked children about what they were drawing in open-ended questions, and documented the children’s responses and interpretation of their drawing. The verbal responses elicited while drawing are always just as important as the visual information provided, the meaning of which needs to be discussed with children. This activity was included as a great way to showcase children’s voices without prompting (Clarke and Moss, 2008).


In this activity children were shown 30 photos of elements in HIPPY including, shapes, storybooks, colours, numbers, and learning with mum/dad. Children were then asked to take three photos with a camera of their favourite parts of HIPPY. This activity prompted reminders of experiences children had in HIPPY. It also prompted children to think about what they liked about HIPPY and provided an alternative to the drawing activity, as not all children choose to express themselves through drawing.

CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 1918


During the listening tour, HIPPY Australia also took the opportunity to ask parents about their experiences in the program. Parents were given a survey at the beginning of the event. They also participated in a discussion group with other parents whilst children were completing activities. We asked parents their thoughts about HIPPY and what they have learnt during their time in the program. This focused on all aspects of HIPPY including home visits, group meetings, socialising, connections with others and personal growth. We also asked them about children’s voices and what differences they have observed in their child during their time in the program.

ETHICS HOW WE MADE SURE WE DID IT THE RIGHT WAY 07The BSL’s Children’s Voice action research has ethics approval. The BSL Research and Policy Centre Ethics Committee confirmed that all procedures in the Children’s Voices Listening Tour were fair and understandable for all taking part. They gave us the go ahead!

As part of our planning, HIPPY Australia considered multiple risks and demonstrated to the Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Centre Ethics Committee how we would reduce the likelihood of these occurring. This risk mitigation ranged from making sure activities were weather-appropriate to a child and ensuring parents and children were supported during activities.

While on site, both children and parents were briefed about the activities and given the option to withdraw at any time. Documents explained the project aims, procedures, and families’ rights to confidentiality. Both children and parents were then asked for their consent by HIPPY Australia staff. The child consent form used child-friendly language and pictures and children had it explained to them individually by HIPPY Australia staff and their parent before they gave their consent.

To protect the privacy of the child and parent, all were given a de-identified number for recording.

Interested in learning more about the Brotherhood of St

Laurence’s research and ethics process? Find out more here:



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Rights-based and human development frameworks were used to collect and analyse the data to ensure that the results were interpreted appropriately and could shape recommendations. We used a mixed-method approach to data analysis designed for different children’s learning styles, and to maximise participation. This approach combines both qualitative and quantitative methods by undertaking a thematic analysis of transcripts and quantitative descriptive statistics. Ritchie and Spencer’s framework (1994) outlined the following steps used by HIPPY Australia staff to analyse the data:

• Data familiarisation: The process of reviewing the data transcripts to gain an overview of the data. Using this process, categories, themes and ideas are identified.

• Through the data-familiarisation process, emerging themes and issues were identified and coded; and related to the themes and issues which may have guided the research. Note: the framework coding is tentative and needs to be reviewed frequently through the process as themes become apparent.

• Themes indexation: Identifying parts of the data that relate to the themes and codes.

• Themes charting: Reviewing the initial themes against the coded data and whole data set.

• Mapping and interpreting: Defining and refining the themes by analysing the key characteristics of each set.


From the three children’s activities and parental surveys, we identified many categories that could be ordered into themes and key characteristics for both children and their parents. Theme frequency, as well as co-occurrence (when two or more themes occur together) gives us insight into the children’s voices, as well as their parents’ experience.

Also, during the listening tour all conversations about the activities children undertook were transcribed word-for-word by HIPPY Australia staff; and the parent group discussions and videos were transcribed. When analysing the data, these transcripts enabled the themes to be drawn out of conversations, drawings and photos taken by the children, as well as the discussions with parents.

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09Over the course of the listening tour, 188 children shared their experience of HIPPY. Analysis of the data from the three activities indicated some common program-related themes. Each theme was based on the responses to discussions, questions, drawings and photos by children.

THEME SOURCE (based on responses in discussion, to questions, drawings and photos)

HIPPY skill building HIPPY activity books, colours, cutting, drawing and colouring, numeracy, reading, school performance, shapes, and writing.

HIPPY enjoyment and new learnings

The best thing about HIPPY, what could HIPPY improve and things children did not like about HIPPY, excursions and general likes.

Things children do differently since doing HIPPY.

Where and who HIPPY is done with

Who they do HIPPY with and where they do HIPPY

Social skills and social connection

Social skills and social connections with other children.

Figure 6: Children’s themes from their HIPPY experiences by source


Opposite page: Figure 6 shows a visual representation of all the most frequently used words when talking to the children in all activities.

CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 2524


Children mentioned three themes at least 100 times across the activities while the fourth most important theme (social skills and social connection) was mentioned fewer than 20 times. A more detailed analysis is provided below.

1. HIPPY skills

The main HIPPY skills learnt by children were reading, shapes, drawing and colouring. These were also their favourite things to do and some of the best things about HIPPY. The children also highlighted that they were doing things differently because of HIPPY. Children often discussed the activities rather than talking about school.


2. HIPPY enjoyment and new learnings

Children frequently addressed the best things about HIPPY. Articulating a ‘HIPPY best thing’ indicated that children remembered multiple aspects of HIPPY and were able to articulate one thing that they liked most. When describing the best thing about HIPPY, the most frequently used words were reading, learning, books, shapes, mum, drawing, numbers and fun. In the drawing activity, 65 of the 169 drawings (and the commentary whilst drawing) were directly related to HIPPY and the weekly activities a child participates in.

‘I like that book best than the others (pointing to book: What Will I Dream Tonight) I learnt that books can be fun’ DWNTH C-02

When the children addressed what they do differently because of HIPPY, the most frequently mentioned words were learning, colours and numbers. This suggests that children understand they are learning when they are doing HIPPY and have identified numbers and colours were developed from doing HIPPY with their parent.

‘I learnt numbers in HIPPY, I learnt that with Mum doing HIPPY’ CAB-C01

3. Where and who HIPPY is done with

Children talked a lot about whom they do HIPPY with. Children mentioned mum and dad 239 times. This indicates relationship building, and cumulative time spent together with a parent is very important to children. When describing who they do HIPPY with, most responses indicated they do HIPPY with ‘mum’. This was three times as often as the next important response of ‘dad’. This tells us largely who is doing HIPPY with the child and a relationship is built while doing the program together.

In the drawing activity (analysed in detail in the case study below) 59 of the 169 drawings produced by HIPPY children were about their relationships with their parents and the time spent together doing HIPPY. Children drew mum, dad and the HIPPY child in these pictures.

‘I like doing HIPPY with mum because it’s fun. We get to play games, and go on excursion and learn about letters. It makes me feel happy’ KENT-C01

HIPPY children also told us where they commonly do HIPPY. The most frequent response from children was home. The most frequent places after the home were outside, at a table and the kitchen.

‘Doing Hippy with my mum at the table’ PISL-C03

4. Social skills and social connection

Social skills, excursions, and school were mentioned less than twenty times by children suggesting children connect HIPPY with the home rather than the wider community and friends.

Theme co-occurrence

The children’s four themes frequently co-occurred throughout the activities and suggests a relationship between themes for the child.

When children made statements or mentioned a specific part of HIPPY (for example, cutting, drawing, activity books, shapes and reading) this would often co-occur with a statement about what they considered to be the best thing about HIPPY (see figure 7). Children strongly associated a HIPPY skill or who I do HIPPY with as the best thing about HIPPY. For example, ‘I like reading and learning about numbers’ or ‘I love doing HIPPY with Mum, my favourite book is Adam’s Salad’.

Children overwhelmingly (over 50% or 153 times) associated reading with the best thing about HIPPY. Through reading, HIPPY children are learning an important competency, developing child agency and participating in individual time with their parent. The second best thing about HIPPY is who they do HIPPY with, indicating that there’s a great deal of relationship building and bonding happening. Relationship building is a strong outcome for children. Children highlighted other HIPPY skills as the best things about HIPPY such as numeracy, understanding shapes and drawing.

‘Mum and dad and big brothers help me to read. It makes me feel happy reading.’ LAU-C01

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Figure 7: Children’s co-occurrence responses to the ‘The best thing about HIPPY’ (HIPPY enjoyment)

Times mentioned

Reading 153

Do HIPPY with 58

Shapes 54

Drawing and colouring 41

Activity books 40

Numeracy 38

Colours 32

Best thing – TOTAL 301

Children described their main new skills and learnings as writing, shapes, numeracy, reading, drawing and colouring. There was frequent crossovers between new learning and the best HIPPY thing indicating that HIPPY children gained enjoyment out of the new skills and see themselves as active learners.

‘It makes me feel happy and excited because I like to do new activities each time and I like it because you learn new things and if you make a mistake it doesn’t matter it’s about having fun’ ‘I learned that when you play games it really doesn’t matter if you lose. It only matters if you have fun’ LAU-C04

‘HIPPY helps people learn different numbers and shapes’FAIRCAB-C03

‘I like HIPPY because it helps me learn’ DAV-C06


of children associated

reading with the

best thing about HIPPY


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Using the drawing activity as a case study, we can see ways that children communicate.

The drawing activity provided clear examples of how children sought to represent HIPPY, which they supported with conversations about their artwork. The children’s explanations of their artwork provided a rich data source that amplified and confirmed the findings overall.

In the drawing activity, children were asked to draw an image. HIPPY Australia staff were with them at the time and asked them about what they were drawing.

Children drew 169 pictures with the most common pictures about HIPPY skills, family, and nature. (see figure 8). By drawing and describing their drawings, children thought about specific elements of HIPPY activities and stories. Some of the children’s drawings were inspired by what they read in storybooks or what they usually did while doing HIPPY. Others were inspired by who they did HIPPY with. Family, people, self and animals are very important to HIPPY children.

Note: some drawings were abstract or didn’t fit into defined categories and are labelled as creative. Appendix 1 has the full list of images that HIPPY children drew.

Figure 8: Themes from children’s drawings.








HIPPY skills38




Children drew 69 pictures relating to HIPPY skills and activities (see figure 9 below). When creating and describing their drawings, children depicted activities that they complete on a weekly basis with HIPPY. Activities such as reading storybooks, identifying colours, cutting, drawing and identifying shapes are frequent in the HIPPY curriculum and correlate with important early years skills such as literacy, numeracy and fine motor skills. A large number of children commented on their enjoyment of HIPPY activities in general. Reading was the most mentioned category:

‘It’s a flower from Adams Salad’

‘I drew a house with shapes’

‘I’m drawing my sister inside my mum’s tummy’

Figure 9: Children’s drawings of HIPPY skills and activities









HIPPY activity


‘Reading is my favourite activity’

‘I love triangles, squares, rectangles and diamonds’

‘My favourite thing about HIPPY is colouring and creating’

‘Charlie starts school made me feel better about school. I love school’

‘It (HIPPY) does help me learn reading. I like the cat book.’

Figure 10: Children’s drawings relating to relationships


HIPPY child22




Gran & Pop


Family pet3

Whole family




In their drawings and descriptions, one-third of children (59) drew who they did HIPPY with. The frequency suggests that as well as liking HIPPY activities and storybooks, these children also enjoyed and valued spending time with their parents while doing HIPPY. Relationship-building with their families and parents is of particular importance to HIPPY children. The child also draws themselves into the picture with their mum, suggesting their agency in HIPPY.

‘I do HIPPY with mum and dad’

‘I do HIPPY with grandma’

‘Sophie is my best friend, I see her, we do HIPPY together’

‘I like playing with my family’

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Over the course of the consultation, HIPPY Australia spoke to 159 adults about their experience participating in HIPPY with their child. This was conducted via survey, in discussions with small groups of parents or video of parents. The key themes emerging were:

• group meetings;

• what they learnt from home visits;

• child development;

• social connections;

• observations;

• child’s voice; and

• doing differently because of HIPPY.

Opposite page: Figure XX shows a visual representation of the most common words that appeared in the parent transcripts.











connections mee





















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Group meetings are an opportunity for parents to meet in their local community, socialise, learn about their child and develop new skills. When discussing group meetings, the words that parents most frequently mentioned were child, meeting, learning, group, help and development. The high occurrence of words such as learning, help and development indicate the value that parents gain from group meetings and their critical importance as a mode of delivery for HIPPY.

Similarly, when discussing what they learnt from home visits, the words most frequently mentioned were activities, child, learning, understanding and help. This focus again indicates that home visits assist with learning, understanding and help. However, in contrast to the group meetings there was a stronger focus on the HIPPY activities themselves rather than social connections.

The theme of social connections was also repeatedly highlighted by parents. When delving further into social connections the most frequently occurring terms were friends, meet, parents, know, group and children. This suggests that friendships are facilitated through the groups, and shared experiences with other parents were helpful to HIPPY parents feeling socially connected.

‘Finding other mothers in the same boat – no judgement’ ALWOD-P013

‘It’s wonderful to be part of an exciting fun program, especially when being a mum could be isolating’ DWNTH-P05

The theme of observations (parent observations about their child) was repeatedly raised by parents. With the most frequently occurring words being reading, confident, love and better. All these words indicate a high level of positivity by parents about their children through their time spent together during HIPPY. This reinforces the importance of the relationship building that occurs between HIPPY parents and children through their participation in the program and how much they learn and observe about their children during the program.

HIPPY Australia staff also examined what parents are doing differently because of HIPPY. The data indicated that learning, time, spending, activities, reading and child were the most frequently used words to describe what they are doing differently. These words indicate that there is dedicated time being spent on HIPPY activities and learning.

The notion of child’s voice came through parents mentioning child, listen, learning, aware, help and time. With 107 mentions of these terms points to HIPPY helping parents to become more aware of their child’s voice and to tune into listening to their child’s voice.

‘HIPPY has helped me learn different ways of listening to children’ DAV-P07

‘More aware of looking out for child’s cues and to ensure I’m taking the time to listen to him’ROC-P09

Parents’ responses on child development (learning more about their child and child development concepts) related to reading, confident, improved, writing and learning. The inclusion of the words confident and improved indicates the child’s journey and development. The words reading, writing and learning point to more observations about how the child has developed cognitively throughout their HIPPY Journey.

‘Taking pride in their stuff, she (child) couldn’t talk last year, she’s picked up heaps, loves learning and loves going to school. It’s taught her to read, count and colours’ BROHILL-P06

‘I have learnt that she is capable of more than I knew’ BURD-P02

When parents were asked what the best thing about HIPPY was, the most frequent words were: learning, time, child, spending, activities, new and love. This indicates the value that parents place on spending one-on-one time with their children during HIPPY. The inclusion of the word ‘new’ indicates a potential change in behaviour or exposure to a new thing.

When talking about their growth as a parent the most frequent words to occur were reading, confident, love and better. This indicates that they understood reading with their child to be a key part of this. The positive words (confident, love and better) indicate parents view their growth and program involvement to be positive and facilitating greater confidence.

‘I am more confident as a parent. Also HIPPY gave me so much in ideas on how I can assist my son with learning’ ROC-P019

‘I am growing as a parent’ ROC-P20

‘I spend more time with my child as a teacher- I feel more confident’ ROC-P07


The key co-occurrence theme from parents was the child’s voice and home visits. This demonstrates learning in the home visit can assist parents to tune into the child’s voice, focus on learning how to deliver HIPPY activities to their children and/or the one-on-one time spent engaging with their children through the program. Parents value home visits as a supportive structure to learn about the activities, their child, and to build understanding of learning concepts.

Another frequent co-occurrence theme was group meetings and social connectedness. This high occurrence demonstrates that group meetings are a key place for parents to feel connected to community and to make friends.

CHILDREN’S VOICES LISTENING TOUR 2019: FINAL REPORT Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020© 3534

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Liddell, Barnett, Roost, McEachran, (2011). Investing in our future: an evaluation of the national rollout of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY): final report The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Melbourne, Victoria.

McNaughton, Smith & Laurence, (2003). Hearing Children’s Voices. Centre for Equity and Innovation at the University of Melbourne.

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Overall, this listening tour reinforced the importance of capturing children’s voices. The findings of the listening tour highlighted the critical importance of elevating the children’s voice and the parent-child program journey. Children and parents can clearly articulate the outcomes they are achieving through participating in HIPPY. Children had agency and knew what they enjoyed most about HIPPY, what skills they have developed and do differently because of HIPPY, and with whom they do HIPPY with. Parents voice has also strengthened HIPPY Australia’s understanding of the parent journey.

By listening to the children who participate in HIPPY, we gained unique insight into the parent–child relationship, and that reading is a critical outcome for the child. Children can clearly state their learning and skill outcomes as reading, shapes, colouring, drawing, numeracy and writing. It also reinforces that children think about these things and know that they are doing differently because of HIPPY.

By hearing this from children and parents directly we can be confident in our program outcomes for HIPPY children and families.


HIPPY Australia is committed to embedding listening to children in all that we do. This will involve conducting further listening tours. BSL should consider:

• Creating a practice guide for early years learning programs to demonstrate how to capture children’s voices on a regular basis;

• Creating a HIPPY toolkit with easy templates for HIPPY sites to assist them in capturing children’s voices in an ongoing way;

• Creating a second Learning Management System module about children’s agency and capturing children’s voices in the HIPPY life cycle;

• Ensuring sites are capturing children’s voices regularly through the quality cycle by adding a standard around child agency in the Assessment of Program Quality tool; and

• Promoting the importance of group meetings to parents; and

• Developing promotional and marketing material around the key themes in this report.



The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges Elders and Traditional Owners of the lands and seas across Australia.

HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) is a two year, home-based early learning and parenting program for four and five year olds that empowers parents to be their child’s first teacher. With the support of Home Tutors, parents teach a structured 60 week curriculum of educational and behavioural activities to their child in the family home and attend Group Meetings. HIPPY is delivered in 100 communities across Australia. With Australian Government support, the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL), together with local partner organisations, delivers HIPPY to vulnerable children and families; provides local jobs and skill development; and strengthens communities.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a not-for-profit, community-based organisation concerned with social justice. Based in Melbourne, but with programs and services delivered throughout Australia, BSL works to support and empower socio-economically disadvantaged people. It undertakes research, service delivery, and advocacy, with the objective of addressing unmet needs and translating learning into new policies, programs and practices for implementation by government and others.


Brotherhood of St LaurenceLevel 1, 219 Johnston StreetFitzroy VIC 3065Australiap 61 3 9445 2400e [email protected] hippyaustralia.bsl.org.au

Copyright © Brotherhood of St Laurence 2020

The Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services. The Brotherhood of St Laurence holds the exclusive licence to operate HIPPY in Australia.