2016 ACT Election – October 2016

In the lead up to this week’s ACT election, your playgroup association asked all the registered candidates to support some recommendations on all things playgroup with the following email. 

To all Candidates in the upcoming 2016 ACT election:

We have compiled this submission to ask all those participating in the upcoming ACT election to voice their views and policies on issues of great interest to the thousands of ACT families attending local playgroups every week.

ACT Playgroups is a grass roots membership organisation. We spend most of our time supporting our members to form and maintain playgroups, deal with parenting issues, build capacity in their local communities, form long-term friendships and reduce family isolation. We often hear stories of how important playgroup is in the lives and wellbeing of Canberran families. In a recent call for playgroup mentors we were overwhelmed by the number of responses, but also by their passion for and dedication to playgroup:

“We have lived in different cities here in Australia and overseas, we would not have survived these moves without the support network of the different playgroups we have attended… playgroups have become our extended families”

“Playgroups offer invaluable support for parents – just having somewhere to go, people who understand, to have a “cuppa” and a “natter” with, all whilst your child is in a safe and nurturing environment. I absolutely love craft, messy play and reading with my kids and it’s great to be able to do this with all the great resources at playgroup.”

“Playgroup has been a huge lifesaver for me being a first time mum”

“Being able to have a group of people around you that have the same joys, worries, difficulties and frustrations is a wonderful thing. The women in my playgroup are now close friends and, apart from my family, my main support system.”

Our volunteers work hard at each and every playgroup to make it a fun, safe and satisfying experience for all. They break down all kinds of barriers every day. The only requirement to attend a community playgroup in the ACT is to have a child under school age. In a time and culture of diminishing participation, community and volunteering and increasing levels of social isolation and disconnectedness, playgroup is an effective antidote, a place where people come to learn, grow, laugh and share; where all are welcome and all are expected to participate.

From humble beginnings in Torrens Hall in 1973, we have grown to be a source of support, strength and solace for many, many Canberrans. The ACT Playgroups Association is the peak body representing playgroups in the ACT region. Currently we have over 2,000 Canberran families attending our playgroups every week, and we maintain a database of over 10,000 families with young children from the past decade and have regular contact with over 1,000 first time parents each year. ACT Playgroups supports more than 200 community playgroups and our fully qualified and experienced staff facilitates playgroups for isolated and disadvantaged families, children with disabilities and chronic illnesses as well as groups for children with autism like characteristics.

ACT Playgroups would like to identify several key issues in our sector that are of particular concern to our organisation and the families we represent. The following issues have been the subject of consultation and feedback from our member families. We are giving all parties and candidates in the upcoming ACT election the opportunity to comment on or formulate a policy response to these issues. We will make this letter and any/all responses from any party/candidate available to our total database of families with young children.

Our key requests are:

  1. Appreciate and respect the contribution that volunteerism and young families make to the life, community and economy of the ACT and recognise the impact that playgroups have for children, parents and carers during the challenging and vital early years of life.
  2. Support a trial of school-based playgroups to engage parents and carers in the local community, foster peer support and facilitate school and preschool transition.
  3. Commit to building and redeveloping infrastructure to be accessible for local communities.
  4. Restore support for first time parents through the Maternal and Child Health New Parents Group program.
  5. Provide better support and assistance for families with children with additional needs (both in and out of the NDIS).

Background and further information on each of these issues is contained in the attached document.  We would be happy to discuss any of these matters further or provide any additional information you may require. Thank you for listening to our concerns and those of young families in the ACT.  We look forward to receiving your proposals for our future direction.

Kirsten Cross
Executive Officer
ACT Playgroups Association Inc

You can find the entire ACT Playgroups submission here.

These are the responses we received (in the order in which they were received):

1-Leigh Watson, Independent-Ginninderra

2-Martin Tye, Sustainable Australia-Ginninderra

3-Brendan Whyte, Independent-Murrumbidgee

4-John Haydon, President Sustainable Australia

5-Denise Fisher, Liberals-Ginninderra

6-Rachel Stephen-Smith, Labor-Kurrajong

7-Emma Davidson, ACT Greens-Murrumbidgee

8-Maiy Azize on behalf of the ACT Greens

9-Peter Robinson, Independent-Kurrajong

10-Marea Fatseas, Independent-Kurrajong

11-Emmanuel Ezekiel-Hart Independent Ginninderra