Joint Media Release with the Hon Linda Burney
Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, Kate Ellis and NSW Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, today announced six additional Children and Family Centres for NSW to improve the quality of life for Indigenous children and their families.
Based on a very successful model operating in New Zealand and the USA, these centres will be located in communities where intergenerational disadvantage is entrenched.
They will be built at Lake Macquarie, Shoalhaven, Brewarrina, Gunnedah and Walgett, and a second centre will be constructed in the Blacktown area, in addition to the Campbelltown, Blacktown and Ballina centres announced earlier this year.
The Australian Government has allocated $74.7 million over six years to build the nine NSW Children and Family Centres.
“The first years of a child’s life set them on a road to adulthood – we want that journey to take them to good health, education and social development,” Ms Ellis said.
“Children and Family Centres are a hub for services that help children and their families develop in terms of health, education and social interaction.”
The six centres will target the needs of Indigenous families and their young children, but all local families will be able to use the centres.
“We want Indigenous children to get the best start in life. Experts tell us that quality early education has the power to break the cycle of disadvantage and that’s vital to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” Ms Ellis said.
Ms Burney said Community Services and the Department of Premier and Cabinet are jointly leading the rollout of the centres in NSW.
“We have seen how parents, mainly mothers, who left school at a very young age do not engage in the education of their children and are not involved in their schools,” she said.
“They will be invited to participate in a 12-month program 30 hours a week where they learn literacy, numeracy and parenting. They will also be encouraged to spend time at their child’s school and in community activities.
“Results overseas are hugely impressive, with savings of $9 for every $1 spent, with mothers going on to further education and jobs, joining the P&C, taking part in their child’s school and, most importantly, supporting their child’s education.
“It gives parents and their children a chance at a brighter future. The improvement in the parents’ self-esteem is astounding.”
Local reference groups have been established for the first three sites. These will enable local communities and leaders to be actively involved in decisions about the specific location of the centres and the coordination of the services available.
“All nine Children and Family Centres in New South Wales will be operational by early 2012, with the first three Centres to be established by early 2011,” Ms Burney said.
The Children and Family Centres are being established under the Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement with joint Commonwealth, State and Territory funding of $564 million over six years.
Under the partnership, the Australian Government has provided $293 million over six years to fund the establishment of at least 35 Children and Family Centres in urban regional and remote locations across Australia.
Further information is at: http://www.deewr.gov.au/earlychildhoodor1300 363 079