Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

A better start for Indigenous children in Balgo

Funding for a playgroup supporting Indigenous children and their parents will help build stronger families in Balgo, in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said the Government has committed up to $240,000 over three years to build on the work the Balgo community has already done to establish their playgroup.

Ms Macklin announced the funding after a visit to the remote community.

“Mothers in Balgo told me how important having a local playgroup was for them and their babies. Playgroups are fun, and help children develop social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills,” Ms Macklin said.

“Local children will be able to learn through play-based early childhood development activities, including music and singing, imaginative play, art and craft, word games, story telling, outdoor and free play.

“Importantly, the playgroup in Balgo also gives parents, grandparents, and carers the opportunity to establish important social and support networks to help improve their parenting techniques.

“We are currently working with the local community and across government to find the most suitable space for the playgroup.”

The playgroup will also have links to other government agencies. The funding will help support playgroup staff, who will work to encourage families to access other community services such as community health centres, and will also help provide the playgroup with more toys, books and equipment.

Ms Macklin said the playgroup would make a significant difference in the early developmental years for local children.

“We want to work with the community to build close family ties in Balgo, and support parents to raise their children in safe, happy and strong families,” Ms Macklin said.

“This playgroup gives young children and their families the opportunity to spend time together having fun, interacting and learning with each other.”

The playgroup will be established under the Australian Government’s Family Support Program.

Giving children the best possible start in their early years is essential for improving the lives of Indigenous children in remote communities and closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.