OBJECTIVES: To evaluate an early intervention project focused on improving child prereading skills and parent behaviour-management skills, for 4-year-old children in the western suburbs of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). METHODOLOGY: Following screening of a large sample of preschoolers, four groups were constructed: (i) children receiving a phonological skills-based prereading package in their normal preschool programme; (ii) children whose parents attended six sessions of child behaviour management skill training; (iii) children who received both interventions; and (iv) a control group. Pre-, post-, 1 and 2 year follow-up measures were taken to assess effects on child behavioural and learning adjustment. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: This community based intervention resulted in positive effects, despite being of low intensity, in achieving significantly less hyperactive/distractable behaviour in children from the combined intervention group at 2 years postintervention. Anxiety problems were also reduced at the post-treatment phase. The prereading package did not demonstrate any effects on reading skills and was deemed to be insufficiently intensive to affect a population of disadvantaged preschoolers. This universal-type of intervention was well accepted by the community, but there is need for further effort to increase recruitment of families of at-risk children into such programmes.