Education is the foundation of any successful and vibrant community, and yet children who grow up in a situation of entrenched disadvantage are likely to fall far behind in the literacy skills needed for a successful school experience.

In fact, research shows that a child’s ability to read and write is set within the first five years of life, meaning by the time a child reaches school, it can already be too late. Children in this situation have higher rates of academic failure, substance abuse, health issues, unemployment and state dependence.

Australia has a significant literacy issue. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 44% of adults don’t have the necessary literacy skills needed for everyday life and work.

Additionally, the Australian Early Development Census shows that 17.3% of Western Australian children are starting school developmentally vulnerable or without the necessary language and cognitive skills.

What we do

United Way WA supports a range of early childhood literacy and reading programs within our community. Research demonstrates that providing books and reading with young children is one of the most important activities to build lasting literacy skills. Our initiatives are designed to address entrenched cultural issues to break the cycle of disadvantage. By working together with local businesses, politicians, community groups, libraries and parent groups, we aim to fill the gaps and empower families to develop literacy skills with their children.

Get Involved

Paint the Town REaD

Paint the Town REaD is a national, grassroots initiative promoting early childhood literacy ideas, information and activities by engaging local communities. The primary goals are to encourage the whole community to talk, read, sing, rhyme and play with children every day from birth, to support reading and writing skills in time for school. United Way WA is the State Ambassador for this program, assisting new communities in the creation, establishment and growth of their own early childhood literacy movement.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library aims to ensure that disadvantaged children has access to books at home by signing them up to receive a free, age-appropriate book, chosen by experts, along with parent resources and tip sheets every month, from birth until their fifth birthday. As the State Ambassador for this program, United Way WA works with local communities to set up, fund, and grow Imagination Libraries across WA to empower early childhood literacy. Give the Gift of Reading and donate to a child in need today


Read Play Grow

Developed and delivered in collaboration with community partners CLAN Midland, Read Play Grow is an early intervention program aiming to create a home environment that allows children to start school ready to learn. This program is focused around creating a positive, safe space where parents can learn without judgement and feel supported to provide key learning experiences for their children. This evidence-based program delivers tailored early learning sessions across all 5 developmental domains for vulnerable families, in their own homes or in small groups.

Make a difference. Live United.


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