11 June 2003

A landmark intervention program to assist parents of children with disabilities was launched at The University of Queensland this month.

Stepping Stones Triple P was launched by Queensland Minister for Disability Services Judy Spence on Friday, June 13 at the University's St Lucia campus.

“It is the first evidence-based program of its kind in the world and is designed to strengthen families’ capacity to support their child and to help contribute to a balanced, meaningful and fulfilling life at home and in the community,” said program co-author Professor Matt Sanders from UQ’s Parenting and Family Support Centre.

The program is an adaptation of the Centre’s highly successful Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, a multi-level family intervention program for the prevention and treatment of behavioural and emotional problems in preadolescent children.

“It is widely recognised that children with disabilities are at greater risk of developing significant behavioural and emotional problems,” Professor Sanders said.

Stepping Stones Triple P aims to assist parents develop practical solutions for common and potentially stressful behavioural and developmental challenges.”

The program consists of five levels of intervention ranging from a parent information strategy to an enhanced behavioural family intervention program.

The launch focused on the first of the five levels, with various resources showcased, including a practitioner manual, parent workbook, positive parenting video, and professional training course including trainer’s guide, participant notes and video.

The program is the result of collaboration between Professor Sanders and fellow co-authors Trevor Mazzucchelli and Lisa Studman of Western Australia’s Disability Services Commission.

Field-testing and evaluation of the program has been completed in two randomised controlled trials.

Professor Sanders said results indicated a significant reduction in challenging behaviours, parental stress, depression and anxiety as well as increased parental confidence and competence and marital satisfaction.

Michelle Connolly, who was involved in the pilot study with her six-year-old son Declan, was at the launch to discuss the program’s effect on her family.

Others attending the launch included television personality Kay McGrath (master of ceremonies), UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle, UQ Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Director of Research Professor Cindy Gallois and Mr Mazzucchelli.

The launch was followed by a full briefing on the program by Professor Sanders.

Media: For further information, contact Professor Sanders (telephone 07 3365 7290) or Joanne van Zeeland (telephone 07 3365 2619).