In just three years Southern Downs Regional Libraries have proudly delivered the Queensland Government’s First 5 Forever Program to more than 2000 of the region’s youngest residents while inspiring a love of reading. Since First 5 Forever (F5F) was launched in 2015, library officers have packed and distributed more than 2000 F5F kits to pre-school aged children across the region – 90 per cent of its target audience.

The program is delivered on behalf of the State Library of Queensland and aims to reach every child in the target age group across the state. Library Services Coordinator Sam Shelbourn said the program had been a great success because of the libraries’ targeted approach to delivering the State Government program locally. “Early on library staff determined there were two ways to deliver the F5F kits to best reach children within the zero to five target group, and because of the work of our dedicated library officers the program has been an enormous success in our community,” Shelbourn said. “More than 2000 resource toolkits have been delivered to local children reaching nearly 90 per cent of our target group in just three years. We work with Queensland Health’s child health nurses throughout the region and they distribute the kits to parents when they bring their children in for either a six month or three year check-up.”

Kits are also distributed on the libraries’ behalf by Carbal Medical Services, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, and via the HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) program. “We assembled more than 1200 kits and personally delivered them while another 200 were given to family day care coordinators for distribution by their home educators,” Shelbourn said. “The idea was to use our existing networks to build upon the State Government’s idea by reaching out to these organisations.”

Initially envisaged as a four year project, in 2018 the Queensland Government announced continued funding to further support the development of literaWorcy and numeracy skills in pre-school children across the state. The F5F kit comes complete with age-appropriate story books and Queensland State Library literacy resources as well as original material created by Southern Downs Libraries staff.

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