The Opposition has welcomed the Legislative Council’s decision to support its call to establish a parliamentary inquiry into child development services delivered in WA.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher said she called for the inquiry earlier this year in response to the significant and increasing wait times children are facing to access these critical services through the Department of Health.
“Responses to questions asked in Parliament consistently show unacceptably high wait times for children to access child development services and I am regularly being told by families of their frustrations and the impact such delays are having on their children’s overall development, health and wellbeing.
“Figures show there are currently over 17,300 children in the Perth metropolitan area alone waiting to access government child development services.
“5,944 children are on a waitlist to see a paediatrician, 5,154 children are waiting to see a speech pathologist, 1,722 children are waiting to access a clinical psychologist and 3,739 children are waiting for an appointment with an occupational therapist.
“By any measure this is not good enough and it is clear that a focussed inquiry is required,” Mrs Faragher said.
“With the importance of early intervention well known, this inquiry provides an opportunity to examine both the delivery of these services and to identify any areas where improvements can be made to ensure children access these vital services far more quickly than they are today.
“I will also continue to call on the State Government to provide more immediate support and resources to the metropolitan Child Development Service, which continues to receive only minimal annual funding increases, with around $700,000 of additional funding being allocated in the 2022-23 financial year.
Mrs Faragher said the establishment of the inquiry was an important outcome for the many organisations and individuals who added their support, as well as the 3,750 members of the community who signed the petition created by Mrs Joanne Matthewson, President of the Community Kindergartens Association.
“I am very pleased the parliamentary inquiry has been successful and the amazing response to my petition demonstrates that many people within the community believe more needs to be done to improve the delivery of child development services to better support children throughout WA,” Mrs Matthewson said.
The Legislative Council Select Committee is to report no later than 12 months after the Committee’s establishment.