Thursday, 11 February 2010
Hasluck Electorate: Midvale Early Childhood and Parenting Centre
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a member of this place is the diverse range of people, agencies and businesses that you have contact with and learn about. Today I would like to tell you about a service that I have seen grow and diversify in an attempt to improve the life chances, health and prosperity of many disadvantaged families in the local community. During my first term in the parliament I gained a positive impression of the then Midvale Childcare Centre, which had provided long day care, family day care and inclusion support for many years. In recent years it has broadened its range of services as the Midvale Early Childhood and Parenting Centre hub. It now also provides nine supported playgroups, toy libraries, teacher directed three- and four-year-old kindergarten programs, a range of parenting programs, childcare professional development programs, adult education programs and volunteer training programs.
The Midland-Midvale area in my electorate is one of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged in Perth, with a high percentage of Indigenous families and an increasing number of families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and families who are disadvantaged or at risk due to issues surrounding poverty, unemployment, ill health, substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness. There is a high percentage of children under five years of age in the local community, and the Australian Early Development Index scores of these children show a high level of language and cognitive vulnerability, emotional immaturity and lack of social competence. It is this disadvantage and the critical unmet needs of the children that have led to the expansion of services by the hub.
The hub continues to evolve to meet the needs identified by the local community through ongoing consultation and relationship building. With a philosophy that recognises that each community is unique and deserving of cultural respect, the hub works within the community in a collaborative and negotiating partnership. The hub holds that a child’s wellbeing is the central core of its services, recognising the influence and importance of family and the wider community in the health, growth and development of a child. It has recognised that family is the greatest support and influence for raising healthy children, so many of the hub programs are designed to support and empower parents in this role.
The hub has also developed strong links with all local primary schools and with a range of local health, education and family support services—and I could mention all of them—including government, non-government and community organisations. The two local councils, the City of Swan and the Shire of Mundaring, are in partnership with the hub and have a strong commitment to the services. Most recently the hub has been piloting the new early years learning framework and will provide training and professional development for local carers and educators during implementation.
I applaud the excellent work already undertaken by the Midvale Early Childhood and Parenting Centre hub and their staff, who are committed to addressing the still unmet needs of the Indigenous and disadvantaged families in the Midland-Midvale district.