Does Paint the Town REaD Help Turn the Curve?

Ms Barbie Bates1

1Paint The Town Read Ltd, Lapstone, Australia

Paint the Town REaD (PTTR), is a low cost, collective impact, assets based community development movement, using the Results Based Accountability (RBA) Framework to evaluate whether PTTR local communities make a difference in preparing children for learning at school.  RBA will only ever tell us that we have helped to contribute to ‘turning the curve’. It is not designed to give a 1:1 attribution.

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is used as a Population measure for baseline, review and planning.

Currently, there are over 80 communities across Australia in remote, rural, regional and urban settings .

But have we helped to turn the curve?

The 2018 AEDC Data for children having one developmental vulnerability, and specifically the language domain, was reviewed in the thirteen PTTR communities, which had been fully operational for five years prior to 2018, along with 13 ‘control’ communities, of similar type, sharing a common geographic border, which did not have a PTTR presence.

In the one developmental vulnerability data, 62% (8) of the PTTR communities, showed a significant decrease in vulnerability, compared to 7% (1) of the communities.

In the language domain – 70% (9) of the PTTR communities, showed a significant decrease in vulnerability compared to 15% (2) of the control communities.

PTTR can only ever make a contribution to these changes. There can be no direct correlation. But it does mean that many more children in communities where PTTR was operating were starting school ready to learn, compared to the control communities, which did not have a PTTR presence.

Future study will investigate can these changes be sustained over 10 years+?


Barbie is Executive Director of the national charity Paint the Town REaD Ltd.

She has many years experience working in the government and not for profit sectors – working collaboratively with anyone else that wants to!

As a paediatric occupational therapist, she has seen the power of read, talk, sing, rhyme and draw not only to prepare children for learning but also as a way to help parents form and strengthen secure attachments with their babies.

The intricacies and miracles of early brain development have been an inspirational and sobering foundation for her work