Annual report highlights WA Labor’s refusal to properly fund child health services

The Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) annual report 2022-23 has once again shone a spotlight on the clear lack of priority for Child Development Services under the Cook Labor Government.

The report highlighted there had been a 52 per cent increase in referrals for these services in the last decade but no major increase in funding to match the increasing demand.

Shadow Early Childhood Education Minister Donna Faragher said the pointed reference by the Department to a lack of funding should elicit an urgent response from the Cook Labor Government.

“It is inexcusable that with $17bn in surpluses over the last three years that funding for these critical child health services remains stagnant,” Mrs Faragher said.

“The wait times for these vital services has ballooned with the median wait time to see a speech pathologist now 12.2 months, 17.8 months to see a paediatrician and 17 months to see a clinical psychologist through the metropolitan Child Development Service (CDS).

“Staff within the CDS are working incredibly hard but the service is at breaking point and our calls, and the calls by CAHS and others for increased funding and support, continue to be ignored by this government.

“The fact that CAHS has chosen to emphasise the lack of any major increase in funding in their annual report demonstrates their absolute frustration.

“These services are not optional extras. Early diagnosis and support is critical and it is outrageous that the Cook Labor Government continues to procrastinate on an issue that impacts thousands of children throughout our State.”

Through questions revealed in State Parliament earlier this year it was revealed that funding to the metropolitan CDS will only increase from $35.7 million to ‘approximately $36 million’ in 2023/24.

Further, the Health Minister stated in response to one question that ‘CDS continues to work within its existing capacity to tackle the growing demand for services’.

“It’s clear that the CDS can’t ‘tackle’ this demand without funding to match and I implore the Cook Labor Government to actually prioritise this critical health area now,” Mrs Faragher said.

“Our children cannot afford to wait and there is absolutely no excuse for doing nothing which is exactly what the Cook Labor Government is doing right now.”