Minister Rishworth interviewed on Sky News


Topic: Early Years Summit and Strategy 

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST:    The Federal Government has announced that it will launch an Early Years Summit to target the health and wellbeing of young children by finding ways to better diagnose problems before they start school. Joining us live now is the Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth. Minister, good to see you. Thanks for your time. So what else comes out of this panel and strategy discussion?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES:     What we've done is we've announced an expert advisory panel that will guide our summit that we will be holding early next year with people from around different areas. Whether that's health, education, wellbeing. All of these areas are critically important to a child's wellbeing. And what we will then do is we will launch the development of a strategy. What we're really keen is to get the programs that are across a range of different portfolios working together to make sure that they are delivering for our children. But most importantly, we want to ensure that little children get the best start to life. And that's what this strategy is all about.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    So how do you ensure a better start to a schooling life that's not there already?  

AMANDA RISHWORTH:     What we've got is programs at the Commonwealth level, programs at the state level. What we want to do is make sure that the programs and systems are working together. What we know is often different areas don't talk to each other. The programs are running often in parallel with each other. So we want to make sure that the systems are much more focused on the child and their family. We want to make sure the Commonwealth is not duplicating what the states and territories are doing, but that any gaps are identified. So this is about a whole of government strategy and work towards supporting children. We know that 45 per cent of children are actually developmentally vulnerable before they start school. So if every child, every family, it might be something different that needs to support them and that's what we want to work towards.

PETER STEFANOVIC:    So if problems are diagnosed before they start school, how would that affect them moving forward? Do you hold them back? Do you move them into different areas? What do you do there? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH:    I'm not going to be prescriptive about what this summit is going to find and develop the best support available. Some of this is actually prevention. Some of this is about making sure that families get the support they need. So that perhaps isn't delay or vulnerability. This is right across the board. We do envisage that this work will start before birth. So the health of the mother and the family is really important in this. What we want to do is look right across the board and look at how we can best support children and families get the best start. There are some really good programs at the moment, but we need to make sure we're doing better. 

PETER STEFANOVIC:    Okay. Amanda Rishworth there, the Social Services Minister, thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon.