The Opposition Alliance says new figures reveal child development service funding is falling well short while wait times for children needing access to these vital services continue to blow out.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Donna Faragher said the Cook Labor Government had been caught out once again not providing any real significant financial uplift to support critical child development services.
“Answers to questions taken on notice during Budget Estimates which have now been released finally reveal the Cook Labor Government will provide an uplift of just $300,000 to child development services (CDS) this financial year,” Mrs Faragher said.
“Funding to the metropolitan Child Development Service (CDS) will increase from $35.7 million in 2022-23 to ‘approximately $36 million’, a tiny increase which is nowhere near enough for a vital service under significant and sustained pressure.”
Mrs Faragher said the dismal funding increase would do little to address ballooning wait times which this year showed the median wait time to see a speech pathologist was now 12.2 months, 11.3 months to see an occupational therapist, 17.8 months to see a paediatrician and 17 months to see a clinical psychologist through the metropolitan Child Development Service.
A number of country health regions were also experiencing significant delays across various services.
“These figures should elicit an immediate response from the Cook Labor Government but all we get is delay and inaction,” Mrs Faragher said.
“While the Premier and the Health Minister are procrastinating, the future of our State – our children – are missing out.
“It also explains why the Health Minister repeatedly refused to answer my direct questions in Parliament after the release of the 2023-24 State Budget in May about any additional funding specifically targeted to address wait times.
“There is clearly no significant funding uplift with the Health Minister now stating in response to one of the answers released last week that ‘CDS continues to work within its existing capacity to tackle the growing demand for services’.
“The fact is CDS’s hardworking staff are doing all they can, but the service’s existing capacity is at breaking point and the Cook Labor Government is failing to take any proactive action to increase CDS capacity to support more children and their families.
“Time and again I have called on Ministers to put in immediate measures to address the significant wait times that children and their families are facing when seeking access to child development services.
“It is incredibly disappointing that my call and the call of parents, health professionals and the community services sector continues to be ignored by the government.
“There is absolutely no excuse for doing nothing which is exactly what the Cook Labor Government is doing right now.”