Lathlain Playground Doorstop


Topic: Future-proofing programs to support families and children, cashless debit card

ZANETA MASCARENHAS, MEMBER FOR SWAN: Hi my name is Zaneta Mascarenhas and I’m the Federal Member for Swan. I’m here with Senator Fatima Payman and of course the wonderful Minister Rishworth, Minister for Social Services. We’re here at Lathlain Playgroup, which is an amazing facility where children and parents can come here to play and socialise and interact with other kids. The Labor Party understands that the early years are critical in a child's life, but also critical for parents to bond with their children. Following that, I'll now introduce Minister Rishworth.

AMANDA RISHWORTH MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Thank you. It's so wonderful to join Fatima and Zaneta here at this playgroup. I love coming to playgroups because it's an opportunity to see children learning through play-based interaction, and of course an opportunity for parents to get support and get connections. While Federal Labor has a very strong agenda in making childcare cheaper, we also have a strong agenda in supporting parents and families, and children, particularly in the early years. That's why I'm really pleased today to be announcing close to $150 million of funding over the next three years to support a variety of children's programs right across the country. Some of these programs include playgroups, some of them include toy libraries, some of them include after school support crèches in rural and regional areas. The vast array of programs and support as part of this package is really important. It's really important for children's development to socialise, to connect with other children, to get opportunities to learn and grow. But it's also important support for parents, because parents obviously, do at times require support; maybe it's peer-to-peer support, maybe it is actually just connections and sharing some of some of the issues or troubles with other parents. And so part of this announcement of money will also go to parenting programs, parenting support, such as peer-to-peer support. Part of this announcement involves funding Labor's election commitment to help grow playgroups. As I said, playgroups are very, very important and part of the fabric of our community. But we know not everyone has access to a playgroup. Sometimes it is financially too difficult. And for some places, it's about accessibility. So in this announcement today just over $8 million will be going to expand the opportunities for playgroups right around the country. That might be in intergenerational playgroups, which have become very popular with many families. It is about making playgroup more affordable and of course expanding access to play groups right around Australia. Of course, our partners in that will be both Playgroup Australia and Playgroup WA, important partners in expanding this important program, because of course we know that giving children the best start in life is critically important and while we're investing both in formal care and informal care to give children and families the support they need. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: How much of this $150 million is allocated for WA?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Around $12 million is allocated to WA for a number of different services right around the region. 

JOURNALIST: How is this going to help struggling families with the cost of living crisis?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It is in addition to our cheaper childcare, which of course helps parents with the cost of childcare. I was speaking to some parents before. One of the things that coming to Playgroup does allow is children to access activities and toys that they might not be able to afford at home. This is an important step in making sure that families still have access to the support they need. In addition, this money is in some part making the cost of playgroup go down. Making more children able to access playgroup and of course making it more accessible. We know that toys can cost, activities can cost, so having a low cost option where children can come and learn and connect with other children, but also where parents are supported as well is really important. We're looking at how children grow up, especially if families can't afford toys and other activities out in the wider community.

JOURNALIST: Did you consult with the WA Government on the end of the cashless debit card and what did you hear from them? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I consulted with all state governments as we move to fulfil our election commitments, and every state government acknowledged our election commitment and committed to work with us as we move forward in those communities.

JOURNALIST: The Premier has flagged this morning that he's likely to move on state laws to reinstate an alcohol ban or a blanket alcohol ban in Carnarvon. What do you think about that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think state governments understand the issues on the ground in their state and very much, we all make laws according to liquor licensing and law and order issues. I know that the McGowan Government has been very committed to tackling law and order in remote and regional communities and certainly, as we move forward, I expect to continue to work with the McGowan Government around ensuring we can put the best supports in communities in place. When it comes to the best support, our job is around economic development, job readiness, and that is certainly, what we've continued to do in regions right across Australia.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it's better to use blanket alcohol bans, rather than having the cashless debit card?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: When it comes to the cashless debit card there was no evidence that it was actually making a difference to alcohol misuse in communities. Alcohol misuse in communities is a complex issue and it's often an intergenerational issue. Steps need to be taken, of course, to make sure the right supports are in place, and state governments will do what they believe is necessary on the ground and certainly, that is what a number of states and territories are doing right across the country.

JOURNALIST: You're headed to Port Hedland tomorrow. What community representatives will you be meeting and what will you be asking them about the situation on the ground?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I am meeting with a lot of people here in Perth today. I'm meeting with advocates of the early years, people that work to make sure that children get the best start in life here in Perth. I'm also meeting with senior citizens to talk with them about how we've reduced the cost of living for them, particularly with expanding access to the seniors health care card, supporting pensioners to downsize and of course freezing the deeming rates. These have been really important measures that our government has taken to support senior Australians with the cost of living. Then we'll be heading to Port Hedland to talk with a range of different representatives about a range of different issues. We know that there are different issues in communities, but making sure that young people, little children, get the best start in life is one of my key focuses when I'm here in Western Australia. I look forward to the conversations I'll be having. Thank you.