The Opposition-Alliance is calling for urgent action to reduce waitlists for child development services after new figures revealed families are now waiting almost 18 months for key health specialists.
Following questions in parliament last week by Shadow Early Childhood Education Minister Donna Faragher, it was revealed the wait time for primary school aged children to see a clinical psychologist is now 17 months.
This has increased from 12 months in February 2022.
Mrs Faragher said the alarming increases in wait times were also being recorded by other key health services.
“Last month, we learnt the current median wait time to access a paediatrician and a speech pathologist through the Metropolitan Child Development Service has increased to 17.8 months and 12.2 months respectively,” Mrs Faragher said.
“It is simply not good enough that children are having to wait this long to access these vital services.
“Of deep concern is the fact that the wait time to see a speech pathologist has jumped from 8.7 months to 12.2 months and that there are now 6120 kids on the waitlist to see a paediatrician.
“Early intervention is key in addressing these issues in children and waiting more than a year to get an appointment is unacceptable.
“Concerningly, these figures do not even take into account wait times that children are experiencing in country WA for similar services.”
Mrs Faragher said despite requests for additional funding, there had been no real significant uplift in funding for these services over the past few years to cope with increased demand.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is that children are able to access these services when they need them most,” Mrs Faragher said.
“While workforce continues to be an issue, it’s important for the government to also consider potential initiatives which could assist in reducing the wait list.
“I will continue to reiterate an increase in government funding is required as well as a need to think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to the delivery of child development services.
“The McGowan Government can no longer ignore these wait list figures which are impacting so many children and families right across our State.
“Children and families needing support must have their voices heard and the Government must respond immediately.”