Potential of family centres

The potential and fundingof Child and Family Centres across Tasmaniawill be probed in a newly-established Legislative Council inquiry.

The inquiry is set to discuss the levels ofgovernment funding in the centres and if there is the need for more of them in locations across Tasmania.

The overall challenges and benefits of theintegrated health, wellbeing and early education model will also be evaluated.

The centres were designed to help families with childrenup to five years old with services including education, support programs and advice for families.

The role of the centres inproviding early learning to children in Tasmania, how they support families in early learning programs, and thebroader impacts of the centres in the communities in which they are located will also be explored.

Elwick Labor MLC and committee chairman Josh Willie said the centres provided an important resourceto the parents and children in the community.

“Given that they’ve been established for some time, it’s time to look at all 12 Child and Family Centres,” Mr Willie said.

“They’re all different, they all target their communities in different ways and the inquiry is to look at their scope, reach and efficacy, and to ensure that therearen’t barriers to families accessing these great services.

“They’re doing fantastic work in the community, but talking to stakeholders, there are families that are falling through the cracks still and we want to ensure that families have access to that support.”

United Voice state secretaryJannette Armstrong said the centres had made a real difference to the lives of vulnerable families.

“We are seeing great utilisation of the Child and Family Centres and lots of great programs being run out of them,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Things like having thesecentres engage parents and engage whole families in a child’s wellbeing and a child’s development.

“It’s about childcare and early learning, as well as parenting support.”

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government was working to make improvements to the education system.

“The Hodgman Liberal government are all about improving educational outcomes for our children and we are embarking on a lot of improvements right across our education system,” Mr Rockliff said.

“We’re investing more in our early years when it comes to our Learning and Families Together program.”

Members of the committee areset to visit a number of Child and Family Centres across the state before public hearings are conducted in the future.

The committee is now calling for writing submissions to be sentinto the inquiry.

Independent MLCsIvan Dean, Ruth Forrest, Tania Rattray, Rob Valentine, and Liberal MLC Leonie Hiscutt will also form the committee.

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