Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government makes wheels on the Bilby bus go round and round

A ‘Bilby Bus’, which provides specialised mobile playgroups to families in caravan parks and housing estates in metropolitan Adelaide, will receive an extra $81,000 in Australian Government funding to ensure children can access early learning opportunities.

Operated by Centacare’s Catholic Family Services, the ‘Bilby Bus’ provides community-based playgroups that operate twice a week in a range of locations. The playgroups are delivered as a mobile service and designed especially for families not living in permanent accommodation to make sure those children have access to early learning experiences.

“The operational funding, along with an extra $1200 so Centacare can buy extra toys and equipment, will ensure families are able to access early learning opportunities for their children,” Senator Patterson said.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, in Adelaide today for the 2005 National Investment for the Early Years SA Excellence Awards, announced the additional funding to June 2006 to allow Centacare to continue providing support to SA families in need.

Centacare is also working with the local Communities for Children Facilitating Partner, UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide, to expand delivery of this specialised playgroup model to a number of new locations in the north western Port Adelaide site.

“By delivering this innovative program, Centacare has demonstrated great commitment to the Government’s early childhood agenda.

“Their work shows that all Australian children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, can participate in playgroups to encourage their future learning.

“An example of the valuable benefits flowing from these mobile playgroups is that local preschools report that children make much more successful transitions to the preschool environment as a result of participation in the playgroups.

“The Howard Government is committed to all children enjoying early learning experiences which lay down positive foundations so they can make a successful transition to school,” Senator Patterson said.