The community of Burt working to change the story

By Matt Keogh MP

22 October 2020

Labor is the party of the social safety net, but it's also the party of prosperity, nobody left behind and nobody held back. Australia is a wealthy nation, and there is no reason why people can't have access to good health care, quality education, a roof over their head and a job to go to as well.

This is a core belief of Labor. Good economic policy is good social policy and vice versa. They are two sides of the same coin, not distinct and separate areas of work.

In my community, there is some wonderful work going on to support those who need it most. I've stood in this place before to discuss some of those programs, and there are more initiatives now underway that I'd like to draw to the attention of the House. Research tells us that the most important time in a child's development is the first 1,000 days from conception, and we're obliged to provide every support from that time onward, especially to new families.

In my community, we have child and parent centres in two of our local primary schools. They are run by Parkerville. These are hubs that provide high-quality, approachable and accessible services for the whole family. Importantly, these facilities are safe.

Families like those in my community often find it difficult approaching formal support services. They can be intimidating to those who need to access what they have to provide. But these wonderful services that are based at Westfield Park and Brookman primary schools in the electorate of Burt are headed by fantastic teams and are excellent hubs of support and guidance. Many people are overwhelmed when they become parents, and these facilities provide a friendly way to access support and resources for new and struggling parents and families. They allow for early intervention to take place, to make sure that there's a connection to services that are required and that children and families are receiving the developmental support and education that they need.

Last year the first cohort of students who started with this program graduated from Westfield Park Primary School, and I'm told that their academic and developmental results were noticeably improved. That's why I'm so happy to see these services made available in my community and would like to see them expanded throughout more schools, to be more available to more people in our community.

One of the great benefits that can come from the expansion of these services is building a critical mass of benefit across our entire community, making sure that our entire community is lifted through these supports.

Unfortunately, there are many in our community who need to have a more interventionist approach provided to them. That's why I've also met recently with Hope Community Services, who provide assistance services for those leaving juvenile detention. I met with a number of elders that advised that service. We went out on country to talk about how their services can be better tailored to make sure those leaving detention are better supported on re-entry to our community.