House debates

Monday, 9 November 2020

Statements by Members

Playgroup Tasmania

10:53 am

Photo of Bridget ArcherBridget Archer (Bass, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

When we think of our local playgroup, many of us would think of community halls filled with young children and their parents, playing and connecting. Playgroup has a long and credible history as one of Australia's largest civil society movements, ensuring young children and their parents can have access to quality playgroups across the nation. Playgroup Tasmania has been operating for more than 40 years, dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of families and the community. Children and young peoples' wellbeing is heavily shaped by their relationships with their family and the wider community. It is well recognised that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical and that a child's early experiences and interactions with their primary carers are vital to their later life outcomes.

The Playgroup model is a flexible approach to supporting families and the community throughout this journey. In Tasmania, they support a network of over 55 playgroups, including PlayConnect. This is an early intervention program of facilitated supported sessions that offer a soft entry for families with a child with Autism-like characteristics to be connected with wider support and relevant information. There is also the PlayTogether program, funded through the federal government's ILC grants, which enables more inclusive access for children and families with additional needs.

There's also the Play Together program, funded through the federal government's ILC grants, which enables more inclusive access for children and families with additional needs. In my electorate of Bass is the organisation's headquarters, located in Invermay, in an area where 2018 AEDC data indicated that 11½ per cent of children are vulnerable in two or more domains and over 19 per cent are at risk in the emotional and communication domains. Each week around 50 families with young children are accessing volunteer led and supported programs. I can attest to just how wonderful the playgroup is and would like to pay credit to current CEO Jacinda Armstrong, who has done an incredible job in leading Playgroup Tasmania over the past few years, working so hard to grow the organisation and ensuring they continue to meet the needs of local communities.

As with almost every community organisation across the country, Playgroup Tasmania had to close its doors in March, leading to Playgroup at Home, a closed Facebook group providing families with a safe space to share ideas and activities, ask questions and support each other. Just like at real playgroup, they had guest speakers, music and stories, and craft ideas. As Jacinda said, it has never been more important than right now for children and families to play and learn together in their community. In complex times it's simple things like play that really help our children. The priority focus for them now is to provide support for families with perinatal mental health challenges. I look forward to working with Jacinda and Playgroup Tasmania to assist where I can on this important issue.