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«Nea Harrison and Diane Walker 10 June 2008 1 Contents Contents Introduction Background to the Northern Territory Starlight Children’s Foundation ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Evaluation of the Starlight

Children’s Foundation’s activities

in regional and remote

communities in the Northern


Nea Harrison and Diane Walker

10 June 2008





Background to the Northern Territory Starlight Children’s Foundation Program.... 3

Purpose of the evaluation…………………………………………….

Focus of the evaluation…………………………………………………................. 3 Methodology………………………………………………………..

Captain Starlight’s work in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is different……………………………………..................10 Evaluation Findings

Recognition and Acceptability………………………………………


Suggestions for improvement………………………………………

Appendix 1: Interview questions

Appendix 2: In depth interviewees

Appendix 3: Poster sent to evaluation sites prior to visits

2 Introduction Background to the Northern Territory Starlight Children’s Foundation Program The Starlight Children’s Foundation has been active in the Northern Territory since September 2006. The focus of the Program in the Northern Territory has been the introduction of Darwin based Captain Starlights who regularly visit the children at the hospitals and clinics. Captain Starlight has been visiting the NT from other centres in Australian since 2006.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation established an Office in Darwin in 2007 staffed by a Northern Territory Program Manager and an Administration / Officer Manager.

At the time of the evaluation there were three Darwin based Captains, two permanent and one casual.

NT activities have included Captain Starlight visiting the Royal Darwin, Gove and Alice Springs hospitals; and visiting the children’s clinic at Yirrkala and the paediatric clinic at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress). As part of the remote and regional community visits the Captain Starlight periodically visits the schools and child care centres.

Purpose of the evaluation The Starlight Children’s Foundation contracted the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH) to evaluate the Captain Starlight Program conducted in regional and remote communities of the Northern Territory. The Foundation seeks to determine the acceptability of the Captain Starlight ‘brand’ in the NT; the impact of the Captain Starlight activities; and obtain suggestions for how the Captain Starlight activities can be improved to be more relevant and / or effective in remote and regional community settings.

The evaluation aims to provide the Starlight Children’s Foundation with information that may be used to guide future planning for the Foundation’s activities in the NT.

Focus of the evaluation The focus of the evaluation is on the Captain Starlight activities undertaken in regional and remote communities of the Northern Territory. The activities undertaken include entertainment, distraction therapy and health promotion messages. The primary focus of the evaluation is the activities conducted at Yirrkala community and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.

–  –  –

The key questions asked in the evaluation included:


• To what extent do people recognise the Captain Starlight brand?

• How well is Captain Starlight received by the community?


• Has the Starlight foundation improved attendance at clinics?

• What are the impacts of Captain Starlight as entertainment?

• What are the impacts of the health promotion messages?

• Does Captain Starlight benefit / make a difference to the work of the health staff?

Suggestions for improvement

• How could the Captain Starlight activities be improved to be more relevant or effective?

• How often should Captain Starlight visit?

Captain Starlight entertains visitors at Gove Hospital

–  –  –

Document analysis A number of documents were reviewed including the Starlight Children’s Foundation brochures, background information sheets and the Starlight Children’s Foundation Website.

These provided information about the history and context of the current Program.

Interviews The Evaluators organised site visits to each of the locations that Captain Starlight visits. The Evaluators conducted semi-structured interviews with a range of health service staff in community health centres, hospitals and child care centres in Darwin, Gove, Yirrkala and Alice Springs. In depth interviews were also held with each of the Captains. Opportunistic interviews and discussions were also conducted with child care centre, school and preschool staff, parents and community members during the site visits. The interviews were tailored to respondents’ experiences with the Program with questions being drawn from a questionnaire sent to the health centres prior to the interview. With interviewees’ permission, the Evaluators taped the interviews for transcription. These data were organised into agreed categories and emerging themes were identified. Opportunistic discussions with families or support people where recorded in a notebook.

Observation The Evaluators accompanied the Captains to their performances in Yirrkala, Gove and Alice Springs. Observation of the Captains performances, activities and interaction with the children and their families were undertaken during these visits. Photos were taken of the group activities held in the community health centres. The evaluators sought out parents or carers to gain permission for photos and to explain the purpose of the visit. The evaluators sent copies of all photos taken back to the health and child care centres for display and distribution.

Ongoing feedback for program development This was a formative evaluation. Evaluators regularly fed back findings and observations from the field visits to the Captains and their managers. This feedback provided opportunities for clarification, discussion and Program improvement prior to the end of the evaluation.

Limitations of the evaluation design The nature of the interaction with parents in the community health settings involved observing the children being entertained and speaking with, not formally interviewing parents. The evaluators had general conversations with parents regarding the acceptability of the Captain Starlight character and activities. At Yirrkala, English was not the first language for some of the parents and the evaluators did not have access to an interpreter, however

–  –  –

In the hospital setting the evaluators observed the interaction between Captain Starlight and the Children. The evaluators had intended to speak to parents but that proved both inappropriate and impractical. There were few parents in attendance and they were caring for distressed or very ill children. In these circumstances, the Starlight activity was brief and it was considered to be an intrusion to remain behind and question parents.

Strengths of the evaluation design The evaluation design was flexible and allowed for the evaluators to adapt to the circumstances and the location.

Children at Congress Child Care singing Dingle Dangle Scarecrow 6 Captain Starlight’s work in the Northern Territory Yirrkala Community Health Centre Yirrkala is an Aboriginal community with a population of 980 people located 18 kms southwest of Nhulunbuy Township in the Gove Peninsular in Arnhem Land. Yirrkala has a Community Health Centre, run by the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services which conducts fortnightly Well Children’s Clinics. Sick children are transferred to the nearby Gove Hospital or to the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Yirrkala Health Centre runs a ‘Healthy Kids Club’ clinic every Wednesday morning and two Captains travel to Yirrkala every second Wednesday to entertain the children at the ‘Kids’ Clinic. The Captains entertain the children on a shaded verandah outside the health centre. The Health Centre provides sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and juice to parents and children in the air conditioned waiting area next to the verandah.

Captain Starlight has been visiting the Yirrkala Community Health Centre regularly since 2006.

On the day the Evaluators visited, the Captains entertained the children with face painting, and magic tricks. The Captains spent three hours entertaining around 20 children who were waiting for their turn at the clinic. A number of parents and carers watched the activities and were enjoying the activities.

The Captain Starlight Program has been working with Yirrkala Community Health Centre staff to trial promoting health and hygiene through half hour shows dedicated to fun and education activities focusing on nose blowing, using the bin to stop the spread of germs, ear cleaning, measuring height and weight and washing hands.1 In 2007 Captain Starlight was invited to participate in the Yirrkala School and Preschool Christmas concert and earlier in the year supported an immunisation program conducted by the health centre in conjunction with the school.

Gove Hospital Gove Hospital is based in the Nhulunbuy Township, which has a population of 3700 people. The hospital services the people of the town (predominately employees and families of the Nabalco Bauxite Mine, government departments and service providers) as well as the surrounding Aboriginal communities the largest of which is Yirrkala.

Gove is located 645 kilometres from Darwin with access by road and air in the dry season and air only in the wet season.

1 Starlight Foundation, NT Programs Summary 2007.

7 After spending the morning in Yirrkala, the Captains drive into Nhulunbuy to visit the Gove Hospital in the afternoon. The Captains visit sick children in their rooms, and entertain children in the corridors and in the outdoor areas of the hospital. The Captains generally spend around an hour visiting all of the children. On the day the Evaluators visited, the Captains made balloon animals for the children and performed magic tricks. Gove Hospital has a Starlight Activity Centre and Captain Starlight spent some time assisting staff and a sick child to operate it.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Alice Springs Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is a community controlled organisation providing comprehensive primary health care services to Aboriginal people in and around Alice Springs. Alice Springs is a city of 24,000 people, located approximately 1300 kilometres south of Darwin.

Congress Health Service holds a paediatric clinic on the first Wednesday morning of each month. Captain Starlight has been attending these clinics since 2006. Two Captains travel to Alice Springs once a month to entertain children on a shaded verandah area outside the Health Service. Family members wait either inside in the air conditioned waiting room or outside on the verandah area. Small groups of children are entertained by the Captains while waiting for their appointments or while waiting for transport home. The Captains sing songs with the children, aided by a ukulele and puppets, perform magic tricks and paint faces and hands.

The day the Evaluator visited, the Captains entertained the children from 9 am until 11 am and then went to the Congress Child Care Centre, located on the same campus, to put on a concert for the children.

Congress first contacted the Starlight Children’s Foundation in 2006 to discuss working with the Aboriginal organisation. Two activities resulted from the initial meeting; the monthly visits to the Paediatric Clinic and a community family day that was held in August 2006. The Captains performed and the Starlight Foundation arranged a variety of acts from Alice Springs. It was a good fun family day which was great (Clinic Coordinator).

In addition the Starlight Children’s Foundation provides Congress with toys and books.

They’ve also supported us with toys, books; really any time we’ve called asking for resources like that they’ve been really generous in supplying those things for us (Clinic Coordinator).

Alice Springs Hospital The Captains visit the Alice Springs Hospital children’s ward in the afternoons after they have been to Congress. Reports from the hospital staff indicate that the Captains

–  –  –

Royal Darwin Hospital Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) is located in the Northern suburbs of Darwin, the capital city of the NT. Very sick children from remote and regional NT are sent to RDH and some stay for extended periods (from three to six months). Captain Starlight visits RDH three days per week and conducts a range of activities with the children.

School and preschool age children at RDH attend the school room each day and the Captains visit in times that the children are not at school. Seventy to eighty per cent of the children in RDH are Indigenous.

The Captains entertain the very sick children in their rooms and conduct group activities in the Parents’ Room with children who are well enough to move about. The hospital prominently displays the art work created by the children with the Captains.

Captain Starlight is the only regular entertainment on offer for children at the hospital.

The hospital does not have access to play therapists.

Artwork created by Royal Darwin Hospital children and Captain Starlight

9 The Northern Territory is different The children from remote and regional Northern Territory communities differ significantly from the children Captain Starlight works with in other areas of Australia. The Captains identified that the children and their parents are younger; the type of activities the children prefer are different; many different languages are spoken by children and their families; and Indigenous people feel shy with strangers.

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