Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

New Funding as MyTime Turns One

The Australian Government has marked the first birthday of the MyTime peer support groups by announcing $90,000 for four new pilot groups.

Bill Shorten, made the announcement while celebrating MyTime’s first birthday at Fairfield City Farm in Sydney with Julia Irwin, member for Fowler.

MyTime already assists over 1,000 parents and carers of pre-school children with disability or a chronic medical condition.

“Early feedback suggests parents and carers of older children with special needs would also benefit from MyTime peer support groups,” Mr Shorten says.

“So I am delighted to announce we will trial two pilot MyTime groups for parents and carers of primary school aged children and two pilot MyTime groups for parents of secondary school aged children. These groups, in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory will be up and running by July.

“MyTime peer support groups provide a fun and safe environment for parents to have time for themselves and make friends with others who understand their complex situation.”

MyTime groups currently assist families of pre-school children with disability, enabling parents to socialise and share ideas with others who understand the rewards and pressures of their caring role.

“We know parents of young children with disabilities are at significant risk of isolation and are often socially disconnected from family and friends due to the intensity of their caring role,” Mr Shorten says.

Sessions are flexible to meet the needs of parents and allow time for socialising, focused activity or discussion, while the children engage in supervised play.

These trial peer support groups are expected to commence in June 2008 and will benefit up to 32 parents.

The MyTime program was announced in the 2006-07 Budget with funding of $9 million over four years.

The Parenting Research Centre coordinates MyTime nationally and there are expected to be 317 MyTime groups benefiting over 2,500 parents by 2010.

The groups allow up to eight parents to meet weekly or fortnightly and are supported by a facilitator to help parents find out about community support services, and a play helper to lead children in activities such as singing, drawing and playing with toys, blocks or sand.