Better Beginnings supports parents in reading to children so that they build the early literacy skills they need to become good readers and succeed at school. It is a tripartite alliance between Rio Tinto, the State Library of Western Australia, and the Western Australian Government.

Rio Tinto has announced it is contributing A$980,000 for a further four years. Since Better Beginnings was established in 2005, the company has committed more than A$1.8 million to the programme, with this current investment bringing the total to A$2.78 million by 2018.

Better Beginnings is also supported State Government funding, including through local governments and through the Royalties for Regions initiative, which aims to grow regional areas into sustainable communities.

Andrew Harding, Rio Tinto chief executive, Iron Ore, China, Korea and Japan and Western Australian Minister for Culture and the Arts the Hon John Day announced the extension to the partnership in April 2015.

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Children at the State Library of Western Australia, Perth

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Andrew Harding and the Hon John Day reading to children at the State Library of Western Australia

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Families with books from the Better Beginnings partnership

A$2.78 million

total contributions from Rio Tinto by 2018

“For Rio Tinto, Better Beginnings is a treasured partnership,” said Andrew. “It has brought books into the homes of all Western Australian families so children can experience the joy of reading from their very first days of life.

“It has also reinforced the important role that reading plays in early childhood development, while helping parents and children bond.”

Better Beginnings has had a significant impact. Today it reaches 60,000 families each year, throughout the state. So far, more than 450,000 families have participated, representing 96 per cent of new-borns, 85 per cent of kindergarten students and 138 remote Aboriginal communities.

The funding partnership will allow the programme to build on its success to date. It will be able to expand its engagement with families whose children are in the two to three years age bracket, with Aboriginal families in metropolitan areas who are experiencing isolation from mainstream community services, and with services whose work targets disadvantaged families.

Better Beginnings has received a number of awards, including the Strengthening Families and Communities category award in the 2013 Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management.