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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Focused Planning for Indigenous Child Care Services

The Howard Government’s continued commitment to improving outcomes for Indigenous children and to closing the gap in educational, social and economic outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, is outlined in the Indigenous Child Care Services Plan.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough today launched the plan at the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) conference in Adelaide.

“The primary focus of the Indigenous Child Care Services Plan is to increase the participation of Indigenous children and families in high quality, culturally responsive children’s services, including child care,” Mr Brough said.

“The Plan aims to increase the involvement of Indigenous children and families in early childhood services, assist services to deliver holistic early childhood programs and provide services for families where no services currently exist.

“Many Indigenous families and communities participated in child care needs consultations across Australia.

“Findings from the consultation are outlined in the summary document, Towards an Indigenous Child Care Services Plan, which I also launched today.

These findings were already used to inform the development of several measures announced in the 8 May 2007 Budget, including:

  • The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children – analysis of pathways of child development and impact of policy and program changes ($8.9 million).
  • Expanding Playgroup Services – strengthen the delivery and effectiveness of Intensive Support Playgroups in high cost locations ($13.8 million).
  • Improved Access to Early Childhood Services and Child Care – establish 20 new Innovative Child Care Services Hubs in regional and remote communities with high Indigenous populations ($23.5 million).

Other recent initiatives to assist Indigenous families’ access child care were also informed by the findings of the consultations, including:

  • A 20 per cent increase in base funding to Budget Based Funded (BBF) child care services, including Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS), Mobile Child Care services, JET Creches, Indigenous Playgroups and some Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services (to a total of $45.5 million).
  • A one-off equipment grant of up to $20,000 in addition to base funding for these BBF services.
  • Existing child care services will receive extra financial support to improve the quality of their services and access mainstream funding ($23.5 million).

“In providing quality, culturally appropriate child care and early childhood services for Indigenous families, the aim is to enhance access to, and take up of, services to promote development, early learning, school readiness and participation in school.

“Through programs such as these, the Howard Government will continue to strengthen and assist Indigenous families in meeting the cultural and developmental needs of their children and place them in a stronger position for the future,” Mr Brough said.