Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has called for a proposed Early Years Centre for the region to be located in the fast growing southern corridor of Cairns.
In 2007, the Queensland Government committed to establish four new early years centres in four years, but centres established to date have been in the south east corner at Caboolture, Nerang and Browns Plains.
Mr Pitt said the 2010-11 budget papers flagged the construction of an Early Years Centre in the Cairns region in 2010 to commence services in 2011.
“It’s been no secret that a centre for our region has been earmarked, but what has been up for grabs is the location for the centre,” Mr Pitt said.
“I’m pushing strongly to have the region’s first Early Years Centre considered for the southern suburbs.
“White Rock, Edmonton or Bentley Park would all be suitable locations – all have large numbers of families who would benefit from a place to learn new skills, meet new friends and access support services.
“Early years centres are essentially ‘one-stop-shops’ that offer parents of children up to the age of eight, or those expecting a child, high-quality family support, early childhood education, care and health services.
“This is exactly what is needed in the southern corridor and would work in conjunction with existing early childhood education and care services in the area.
“In years gone by, we’ve had to play catch up when it came to the delivery of community infrastructure and services in this area.
“An early years centre would be an acknowledgement of the existing needs of families in the growth corridor of Cairns, as well as those services that we’ll need to address in the future.”
Services that can be provided by early years centres include: high quality early childhood education and care; advice on child health and development; health screening and assessments; immunisations; pre and post natal support; referrals to existing programs; referrals to specialist services; personal and individual support; parenting information; playgroups and toy libraries.
Mr Pitt said he also used budget week to ask a question on notice of the Minister for Education and Training Geoff Wilson:
Will the Minister provide an update about planning for any new kindergarten services in the Mulgrave Electorate and advise whether this process can be accelerated given the existing high demand for these services in the fast growing southern corridor of Cairns?
“Population growth will continue strongly, growth will fuel demand for early childhood education, child-care, and other services—including more kindergartens,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Minister announced that 40 extra kindergarten services would be fast-tracked across the state, on top of the 68 extra kindy services already planned to open by the end of 2012.
“I want the far north to get our fair share of these accelerated centres, and in particular I want families in Mulgrave to be benefit from this $60 million investment.”
Mr Pitt said residents in Mulgrave would benefit from new kindergarten services as part of the government’s pilot program to subsidise long-day-care centres.
The ABC Learning Centre at Tamarind Gardens receive $22,725 to offer kindergarten programs taught by qualified teachers as part of the government’s commitment to universal access.
“Having a kindergarten program combined with the convenience of long day care will be great for working parents who want their children to access quality early education,” Mr Pitt said.
“I know the extra services will be welcomed by parents in this fast-growing area.”
The Bligh Government’s Early Years Strategy is about investing in services to secure positive long-term outcomes for children and their families, including reducing the need for more intensive and sustained intervention later in life.