Investing in Australia’s children through toy libraries

The Albanese Labor Government has underscored its commitment to Australia’s children and their families with the announcement of $700,000 in new funding for Toy Libraries Australia.

The funding is delivering on an election commitment and will go to supporting families and children, and their development. It is in line with the Government’s commitment to the Early Years.

It will be made available over four years from mid-2023.

The announcement comes amid the 16th International Toy Libraries Conference which is being held in Melbourne for the first time in 30 years. More than 150 toy librarians from 13 countries are joining to discuss and highlight the important role that playgroups and toy libraries play in early childhood development outcomes.

Minister for Social Services said little children thrived when they had access to play-based learning and toy libraries played a key role in that.

“At their heart, playgroups, and toy libraries are about play and connection,” Minister Rishworth said.

“They are an essential part of communities across Australia, providing children and their families with better access to resources, social support, and community connection.”

The latest data from Toy Libraries Australia shows that more than 130,000 Australians are using a toy library.

Toy libraries across Australia own toys worth $28 million, which equates to $640 worth of toys for every family that is a member of a toy library.

Most memberships to toy libraries cost less than $2 per week each year.

The new funding for Toy Libraries Australia will be used to help upgrade facilities and improve accessibility of developmentally appropriate toys to families of children with disability.

Toy Libraries Australia CEO Debbie Williams welcomed the investment from the Federal Government.

“We’re thrilled to see this investment in toy libraries from the Federal Government,” Ms Williams said.

“Children learn through play, and toy libraries help parents and carers nurture children’s development through the critical early periods with ‘tools’ they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. They’re also community meeting places that encourage families to spend quality time playing together.

“This funding will help further strengthen and grow toy libraries around Australia so more families can access a wide range of quality toys.”

Minister Rishworth said the Government was committed to improving the lives of Australian children.

“We believe our children deserve every opportunity to enrich their learning in order to achieve their fullest potential,” Minister Rishworth said.

“We are dedicated to making early childhood a positive experience for Australian children and their families.”

More information on playgroups and toy libraries is available at Playgroup Australia and Toy Libraries Australia websites.