Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

$1.1 million funding boost for playgroup and children’s services opens door to better futures

Children, their parents or caregivers and local communities are set to benefit from $1.1 million in funding from the Howard Government to boost family services including playgroups and child care facilities around Australia.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced the funding at the ‘Communities in Control’ conference in Victoria saying, “The Howard Government is committed to all children enjoying early learning experiences which lay down the positive foundations for children to make a successful transition to school.

“Nearly $345,000 will be used to build the capacity of the peak national playgroups organisation, Playgroup Australia, as well as Playgroup Associations in each state and territory.

“Playgroup Associations play the vital role of providing support to local groups to implement playgroups across Australia.

“Further funding of more than $497,000 will be used to provide ongoing support to four specialised playgroups to provide support for families in communities who are most in need.

“Playgroups give children the opportunity to develop early learning and social skills which encourage their future learning, while parents or caregivers can share experiences and knowledge and gain valuable social and support networks.

“These playgroups, and the work of the Playgroup Associations, enable Australian children, no matter where they live or what their family circumstances are, to participate in these vital early learning experiences.

“A total of more than $214,000 has also been provided to other children’s services across Australia, which will enable the purchase of much needed equipment, building upgrades and other supportive projects for parents.

“Funding will be used in Western Australia to purchase safety equipment such as a cyclone proof fence for an Indigenous playgroup and shade cloths in outdoor play areas.

“Funding will be used in Queensland to print brochures specifically aimed at strengthening and supporting fathers in their roles as parents and fathers. An additional $30,000 funding is going to Save the Children Fund (Queensland Division) to upgrade the vehicle they use to run mobile playgroups, as well as purchasing toys and equipment for the service.

“All of these improved services and resources will help children and their parents to learn and develop new skills,” said Senator Patterson.