7SX Tasmania – investment in local early learning

Thursday, 17 March 2022

HOST: I’ve got a couple of guests joining me in the studio this morning right now. Amanda Rishworth MP, who is the Shadow Minister of Early Childhood Education and Youth, and we spoke last week with Chris Lynch, Labor candidate for Braddon, are both joining me in the studio this morning and are down the west coast at the moment. We’ll have a chat with them about what they’re doing down here tomorrow. Good morning to you both. Great to have you with us.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Good morning. Great to be with you.

CHRIS LYNCH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: And me too. Good morning.

HOST: Great to hear you and see you in the flesh. So, you’re here for – what do you have to tell us what you’re here for today? Firstly, to you Amanda?

RISHWORTH: Chris has invited me down to visit a number of early learning services and playgroups that are on offer for the west coast of Tasmania. And what we’ve been doing – he’s been bugging me about making election commitments down here – and so we’ve made a range of election commitments, including what we’ll do today is an investment in the Queenstown childcare service. This is obviously an incredibly important childcare service for the west coast. And what we want to do is make a commitment of $50,000 to help them upgrade their outdoor facilities. So we really believe that providing infrastructure for families is important. And so we also visited Zeehan yesterday, where we were able to look at their wonderful kids club – wasn’t that great, Chris, it was just a great kids club – and make a commitment there.

LYNCH: Yeah it was and, you know, just the way that it just adds to what’s on offer for parents and kids. So it’s not just the school day, it’s very important for, especially in Zeehan, for kids to have after school activities that are all around healthy eating and healthy play and respectful relationships. And yet, it’s a vital service that deserves to have proper attention paid to when it comes to funding.

HOST: Absolutely. A couple of people have said to me in the streets in the last couple of months or so, the problem is down here there’s not a lot for kids to do. So this sort of thing would be absolutely welcome.

RISHWORTH: Look, absolutely. And I think when you look at childcare, it’s not just about helping parents go back to work, of course that’s part of it. But it’s also that early learning, if you think about children – I mean, I’m amazed, I’ve got two little ones myself, and watching their brain develop from zero to five. 90 per cent of the brain is developed at that time. So providing an opportunity to do early learning is really important. And this is one of the only services actually available on the west coast is my understanding. So investing a bit of money to ensure that they have a really up to date, nice outdoor play area is just I think the basics that we can help with.

HOST: Absolutely. And I think there needs to be a sort of motivation there for kids to learn as well. So I guess the way you go about doing that is vitally important.

LYNCH: I think so. And the west coast gets unfairly targeted for its weather, so for kids to be able to get outside is vitally important. But the sort of things that we’re talking about is that we’re going to put in some natural climbing structures, things like easels for painting and chalkboards and outdoor STEM experiences. So it’s not just going to push them out the door and let them take care of themselves. We really are interested in putting in some things that they can get their hands on, and real tangible experiences.

HOST: So when I was in kindergarten I used to enjoy fingerpainting. But sometimes with these things they don’t realise what they’re learning, because they love doing it and they’re just doing it for the love of it. But I guess at the same time, they’re training their brains to do other things.

LYNCH: Exactly. And sometimes I think we can look at these things through adult lenses, like fingerpainting how boring is that? Well no if I’m three years old it’s incredibly exciting. So some of these things might sound a little simplistic, but to developing brains, they are vital.

RISHWORTH: Absolutely.

HOST: It sounds funny, because I remember you have the question in your end of year magazine or whatever for schools, and they say what are the kids’ favourite subject. I remember about four people, certainly in my kindergarten class, their favourite subject was the big blocks.

RISHWORTH: Yes, yes. And the big blocks is so important, because not only is it about construction, but when I’ve watched children use those sorts of things, they’ve got to negotiate with others. Because there’s not just one child building it, there’s always another, so they’ve got to learn negotiation, they’ve got to learn sharing and a whole lot of other things. So it’s such an important age. And I know Chris and Federal Labor is just so committed to investing in the early years, and making sure, it definitely is the early learning centres, but also those playgroups that are just really, really critical as well.

HOST: I mean how important it is for them to learn the basics. Because I think just looking at everything that’s around in society today, including all the gender things and that sort of thing, there’s so much that they have to learn a little bit when they’re older. But we still need to get back to the basics of life.

RISHWORTH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think in those early years really the critical – reading for example, reading to your children to help them with language. Reading and writing, I mean obviously not at that age, but also just learning about their relationships with others, negotiating, sharing, all of that is really important. But that reading to your children, and then them learning to read is one of those really important life skills. So I remember that was drummed into me – try and read to your child, three books a night, and sometimes you think “gee, I can’t do this tonight”. But I try and stick by that because those basic skills set young children up for life. And of course, they’re not going to read at two or three, but listening to a story is also really important.

LYNCH: As I say, these are the things that have never died. It’s always been the tradition in our home. So it’s great that we’re encouraging to keep that sort of stuff up.

HOST: All right, well tell us about what are your movements in the next couple of days then down here?

RISHWORTH: Well, I’ve already visited a number of places, Burnie, Zeehan. And we’re now going to visit the childcare centre this morning here at Queenstown. Of course, Chris took me up and I’ve seen some of the key sites already. We’ve been up to the lookout and saw beautiful Queenstown, and we’re going to have a walkthrough and I think see some of the businesses in the street as well. So this is actually really wonderful having a chat to people. We had a beautiful dinner last night as well, and we should give her a shout out to Delish the pizza place here. They did put on a great show for us last night. So it’s been really wonderful, but also obviously getting our message out here. One of Labor’s key election commitments as well is supporting families through cheaper childcare and after school hours costs. We know that some of those costs are really difficult for families, and so we want to help with that, while we’re making these local commitments here in this community and in other communities. We also want to really help families with the cost of accessing early education, because it shouldn’t be out of reach for families.

HOST: Absolutely spot on there. Now Amanda , I’m sure that Chris has told you many times that he’s a very talented musician.

RISHWORTH: He has, I’ve heard about that. I’ve heard it a lot actually.

HOST: But of course you were down here on Saturday with your RSL club choir. Tell us about how it went.

LYNCH: I had a great weekend down here actually. I came down early and did some doorknocking and speaking to people about their concerns. And then yes, we did – I won’t say we tore the place apart at the RSL, but we had a great night and the people that came out to involve themselves in the choir had a great time. And we finished that off and there was supper for days. So I did my best to wade through most of it. But then we finished off with a couple of sets from my friends who played as well. And then Sunday I hung out at the market of course and met some locals, and again talking about the issues down here and what’s important to them. And then scooted back again. So yeah look, I’m very, very conscious that the west coast is a vital, integral part of Braddon. And I do wonder sometimes if they feel like they might be getting let down with representation. And I can assure you, that’s not how I view it.

HOST: Good, excellent, very good, positive words, we want to hear more of that from the rest of the State. Because being so isolated, it’s the communication can be a little bit of an issue. So, it’s great to hear those words from you. But it’s lovely to see you both and for chatting today. Appreciate your time. Appreciate you both coming down to the west coast. And we hope the weather’s good to you for the time you’re down here as well, because we haven’t had much rain down here.

LYNCH: No, I keep saying you are unfairly painted. You know, the times that I’ve been here, and through previous employment I was coming at least once a month for five or six years there, and yeah it’s a different weather system to everywhere else, but it really is not as bad as it gets painted out to be.

RISHWORTH: Well, I have to say as we left Burnie, it was raining, raining, raining. We made it here to Queenstown, the skies were blue.

HOST: There you go you don’t need any proof.

RISHWORTH: I don’t know the BOM for that, I just have my lived experience.

HOST: Good on you. Alright, well, thank you very much to you both for joining us today.

ENDS

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