Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the adequacy of child development services and related programs being delivered in Western Australia.
Mrs Faragher said such an inquiry would provide a valuable opportunity to put a spotlight on the importance of early access to child development services, including paediatric and allied health services, and the impact of any delays on a child’s overall development, health and wellbeing.
“There is plenty of evidence to show the more time and resources directed toward children, particularly in their early formative years, the better,” Mrs Faragher said.
“It is clear however that we need to do more with the most recent Australian Early Development Census released in April showing that just over 20 percent of WA children, or 1 in 5, were assessed as vulnerable on one or more areas of early childhood development at the start of their first year of full-time school.
“What we also know is with the ever-increasing wait times to access child development services including paediatricians, clinical psychologists and allied health services through the Department of Health, children are missing out.
“I am regularly being told by parents, school staff and health professionals of the impact of these wait times and their frustrations in accessing services in a timely manner for children.
“This is not a reflection on the staff working across these government services who are doing their very best to support children and their families, but it is another demonstration that something urgently needs to be done.
“The establishment of a parliamentary inquiry to examine the adequacy of these services for children and their families is therefore very timely.”
Mrs Faragher said the parliamentary inquiry, if supported by the Legislative Council, would also provide a mechanism to inquire into opportunities for improved collaboration and integration of child development services and programs across both the government and non-government sectors as well as consideration of other successful models of service delivery operating elsewhere.
“We need to be prepared to think outside the box when it comes to early childhood development services to ensure we get the best outcomes for West Australian children, both now and in the future.
Mrs Faragher said the establishment of such an inquiry required the support of the Legislative Council and the McGowan Government.
“I therefore urge the Government to support the establishment of this Select Committee,” Mrs Faragher said.
The parliamentary motion* calling for the establishment of a Select Committee of the Legislative Council will be debated when State Parliament resumes after the Winter recess.