Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Getting ready for school? Its child’s play!

 The Howard Government will deliver $3 million in funding to projects in Lismore and surrounding areas under the $142 million Communities for Childreninitiative.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today officially launched the Lismore YWCA Children’s Services Strategy and the Lismore Let’s Read project, as part of the Government’s commitment to improving outcomes for regional Australian children and their families.

“The Howard Government and the Lismore YWCA will work together with the local community to implement the Children’s Services Strategy, which will focus on supporting the health and early developmental needs of local children, aged three to five years, supporting their parents and building child friendly communities,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Strategy will aim to improve the communication and social skills of children prior to entering school as well as strengthen parent/child relationships by providing the necessary skills and resources to identify and respond to early childhood issues.

“It will also focus on the development and delivery of children’s services staff training programs, increasing carer knowledge and skills in early childhood development, language development, behaviour management and parental engagement.

“The Lismore YWCA will also run the Lismore Let’s Read project, encouraging parents and carers to read to their young children to strengthen relationships and develop early communication skills.

“The project will include books for parents of newborns providing information and tips for reading to children from an early age, it will also aim to engage the business sector to commercially support the project to achieve long-term sustainability.

“This Communities for Children funding is part of the Howard Government’s $490 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, designed to engage community organisations in developing local early childhood initiatives to improve the outcomes for young children.

“I am disappointed that the outcomes of this project will not be measured through a new tool designed to get a much clearer understanding of what is happening with our nation’s children. The Australian Early Development Index is designed to tell us how well Australian children are faring in those early years.

“NSW, despite not having to contribute any funding to the project, is the only state or territory that has refused to sign up.

“I would urge NSW to join the rest of the nation in using a tool that will help communities understand the health, development and wellbeing of their children and identify areas where children are excelling or areas that need additional support,” Senator Patterson said.