Tuesday, 20 June 2023
Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston—Minister for Social Services) (16:03): It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. I was so pleased to be joined by many of the participants in the ‘village’ of my electorate in the southern suburbs of Adelaide as we hosted an Early Years Strategy consultation forum. I was delighted to be joined by educators, health and community service providers, parent groups, advocates and everyone else who wanted to make a contribution on how we deliver for our youngest children. That’s exactly what our Early Years Strategy is doing: looking at how we give our littlest citizens the best start to life.
I’d particularly like to mention Christies Beach and Seaford Heights early learning centres, the Southern Montessori School, the Noarlunga based Aboriginal family clinic and, of course, Parents Who Have Been There, a wonderful local group that supports parents of babies in neonatal care as well as others who have had challenges at the very start of life. It was really important for me to hear so many local insights from those that attended, really talking about the importance of giving parents not just support but ensuring that parents feel empowered and get the right resources when they need them. It was also important to hear from service providers, who were talking about the importance of joined up local services and making sure that they were easily accessible to families in times of need.
The government really understands that a siloed and fragmented approach to services in the community that doesn’t put families and children at the centre, whether they be parenting or early education support services, whether they be community or disability providers and support services, is not the right approach. So we are working diligently, consulting right across the country, to ensure that we have a strategy that looks at better coordination of services and supports but also, importantly, has a clear vision for the future of Australia’s children and family. We are really working to ensure that the voices of not only those parents but also children are at the heart of our strategy and that a child’s perspective is embedded.
I would encourage all members of this place to get involved in the government’s Early Years Strategy. It’s an important piece of public policy.