Program design and planning

Program design and planning

Program design and planning

Provides a step-by-step guide to support LDATs through the process of planning a parenting program that is informed by evidence, and responsive to local data and need. It can be used to support the development of Community Action Plans.

Program objectives

The purpose of parenting programs is to improve parents’ knowledge, skills, capacity and confidence to raise their children and support young people to live healthy and fulfilling lives, unlimited by alcohol and drug harm.

The overall objective of parenting programs is to improve child outcomes.

Parenting programs may have a range of additional objectives, including to:

  • empower parents with knowledge and understanding about the harms of alcohol and why their children shouldn’t drink during adolescence
  • equip parents with the confidence and skills to take actions that will reduce the likelihood their child will drink and drink in harmful ways
  • foster communication between parents and create a community culture that recognises the harms of adolescent drinking.
Your LDAT may wish to develop objectives that are more specific to what parents should know (core knowledge) and what parents can do (effective parenting practices) to reduce young people’s AOD use and harms, in line with the focus of their parenting program.

Define the scope of the parenting program

Parenting programs refer to a group of programs and services in which parents, caregivers or guardians receive direct and targeted education, training or support. There is no one size fits all approach.

Parenting programs should be informed by evidence and be responsive to local data and needs. What works for one community may not work for the next, so an assessment of the community’s needs is recommended to ensure the program is what parents want and ensure it can be supported by the community.

Steps to designing a parenting program

Step 1: Target audience

It is important to define the parents you will target (target audience) and the age group of their children.

Parenting programs are typically structured around two key age groups:

Parenting 0-12 years

Programs targeting parents of 0–12-year-olds often focus on aspects of the parent-child relationship that improve long-term outcomes for younger children, such as parenting with warmth and strictness, communication, and the importance of play and spending time with young people.

Parenting 12-18 years

As AOD use is predominantly initiated in the adolescent years, programs targeting parents of 12-18-year-olds often focus on the importance of not providing alcohol to under 18s and having conversations with young people about alcohol and other drugs.

In addition to focusing on parents with children of a certain age, LDATs may focus on:

  • young parents
  • new parents
  • parents who are geographically or socially isolated
  • parents and families with the presence of AOD risk factors such as family conflict and unemployment.

Step 2: Delivery method

Select a delivery method.


The parenting program sessions are held in person, face to face.


The parenting program sessions are held online. This can be using video technology (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype) and accessed via a number of different devices (e.g. phone, desktop computer, tablet).

Step 3: Setting

Choose the setting for the parenting program sessions. The setting that you choose may impact on operational aspects of the program. It may also have further implications on policies and procedures.  


Sessions occur within the local community, utilising community spaces such as parks, cafes, libraries, etc.


Sessions occur on the school premises.


Sessions occur on business premises.


Sessions occur in other site-based locations including, but not limited to, universities, youth centres, sport and recreation clubs.

Step 4: Other

The sample session plan provides an outline of the parenting session structure, duration and frequency, and will be determined by LDATs based on community need.

Step 5: Plan the evaluation

See the 'Program evaluation' section of this Guide.

Out of scope

This Guide supports LDATs to deliver AOD prevention programs that aim to prevent AOD use and harms from occurring. It does not address existing alcohol and other drug-related use.

In the event that issues currently exist, LDATs may wish to connect parents with other parenting programs that have been shown to be effective in Australia, particularly for children who already exhibit early signs of behaviour management challenges.

Please note, the following are not considered to be parenting program activities:

  • direct education or training of children
  • community-wide education where a parent may or may not receive education (i.e. parent/s are not the target audience – instead the community is)
  • indirect education of parents via their children (e.g. a notice sent home with the child about the importance of reading)
  • tip sheets or information pamphlets handed-out to parents in isolation of other forms of interaction.

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