Illawarra, New South Wales

About the community

The Illawarra Let’s Read area is comprised of Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas.

The City of Wollongong is a local government area in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. The area is situated adjacent to the Tasman Sea, the Southern Freeway and the South Coast railway line. Area: 684 km²

The City of Shellharbour is a local government area in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. The area is situated South of Wollongong. Area: 147 km²

Illawarra and the Let's Read program

Let’s Read is a member of the Paint the Gong Read and Paint Shellharbour Read committees. The Paint the Town Read committees promote early literacy events and activities in Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas. Let’s Read is delivered through Paint the Town Read members and their organisations.

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba reading at Paint Shellharbour launch.



Community stories

Launch  ​of Paint Shoalhaven REaD, Black & Yellow in Nowra

Read a book or two with Aggy the black cockatoo!

The Smith Family Program Coordinators and local Family Partnership Coordinators attended a launch of the mascot for the Paint Shoalhaven REaD, Black and Yellow in Nowra in October 2017.  Mascot Aggy the black cockatoo, 'hatched' from her egg.  An exercise ball was painted by local Aboriginal elders in the presence of children from ten local pre-schools.


A competition ran for several months for local children to come up with a name for the mascot and the winner was chosen by the elders.  The children were very excited to meet Aggy and she will be a welcome guest at future community events. Our catch phrase for the program is ‘Read a Book or two with Aggy the black cockatoo!’

Aggy listened to a story, danced and sang songs with the children before posing for photographs. The children participated in various activities, including making badges and key rings with The Smith Family staff, colouring in and listening to stories.

Children received prizes of book packs, donated by The Smith Family. Book boxes were also filled with donated second-hand books which will be distributed in the coming weeks to local businesses and community organisations to give families access to free books.




NAIDOC Celebrations in Sh​​ellharbour

PC Siân and FPC Alisha from the Shellharbour community attended the NAIDOC Fun Day run by the Shellharbour City Council.

The Smith Family had a stall where families were able to make their own keyring and enjoy some Let's Read colouring-in. Let’s Read tip sheets were handed out and there were many conversations about the importance of reading to children at an early age.  A reading area was set up in front of our stall where volunteers offered to read to children.

Families in the area on our scholarship program stopped by our stall to say hello, and members from the community really enjoyed the activities we provided, making over 150 keyrings on the day.​

Suanne Sneddon, Illawarra/Shoalhaven Team Leader Learning for Life | The Smith Family


Promoting reading in Shellharbour

On Tuesday 12 July, 2016, ten very keen community professionals in Shellharbour completed Let's Read Training. With a wide variety of participants from Librarians to Early Childhood Teachers to Paint the Town REaD coordinators, we were able to establish a fantastic network of services that will be able to spread the Let's Read message throughout Shellharbour.

Everyone was really keen to be involved in the training and got a lot out of the session, feeling much more confident now to have discussions with the families they work with about the importance of early literacy. We are looking forward to working together in delivering the Let's Read Packs and increasing the literacy rates for all young people in our community. ​

Paint the Gong Re(a)d - Life is brighter with ​books!

The literacy-promoting event through Paint The Gong Re(a)d  was held in Warrawong during Book Week with local agencies, services and organisations focusing on children aged 0-5. We had lots of special guests at the event, including the Wollongong Mayor, NRL Dragons players, local lifeguards, firefighters and police. 

Children and families went around the shopping centre, participating in four different activities that were related to a chosen book. Once they got their stickers from each station, they came back to us at the information desk and received their book pack, enclosed with a free book and resources including Let's Read tip sheets and suggested books. The event was a great success and we are already planning for next year!​

Let's Read at the University of Wo​​​​llongong

Another Let's Read training session in the Illawarra was held at the University of Wollongong with participants from the Paint the Town Re(a)d group and UOW Early Start. The group of participants were very enthusiastic and vocal in their ideas and goals for incorporating Let's Read into their service and how to network better with other services in the community. The Let's Read packs given to participants in this training session were funded by FACS. Afterwards, we were invited on a tour of the new Discovery Centre at the campus in the Early Start building with our special guests Judy and Jenny. In partnership with UOW Early Start, we will be holding our Let's Count training in the centre later this year.

Suanne Sneddon, Illawarra/Shoalhaven Team Leader Learning for Life | The Smith Family


Let’s Read at Warilla Occ​​asional Care

In May 2016, 6 staff members from Warilla  Pre-school and Occasional Care were trained in the Let’s Read program. Let’s Read ties in closely with much of other work they are doing towards early literacy at the centre and they were very excited to incorporate Let’s Read into their work.

The brainstorming session at the end of the training resulted in some great ideas for the centre and how they can open up the conversation about reading with parents, including using online newsfeeds to provide parents with a tip of the week around reading with their children.