Page 3939 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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MR STEEL: I am very pleased to say that the first of the buses has been completed, at the Scania factory in Adelaide. The chassis are built in Spain, I understand, and brought over here; then the bus bodies are added to those. Staff from Transport Canberra and City Services are going there to visually inspect those buses, to make sure that they meet all of the requirements that we have placed on them, before they come up here and are added to the fleet, ready to start in our new network, starting in term 1.

Children and young people—early childhood services

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, how is the ACT government supporting children’s development in the years before school?

MS BERRY: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question. The ACT government’s Child Development Service has been providing assessments for children for many years now. Earlier this month I announced a $7 million commitment for a new therapeutic early intervention service at the Child Development Service. This is what it might mean for a family: their child might be in an early childhood education and care setting, and the educators might have noticed that the child is showing some behaviours that indicate that the child might need some additional supports. The early learning centre could then refer that family to the Child Development Service.

The service will do an assessment, which they already do right now, but from next year they will also be able to provide therapeutic services for children aged from 24 to 36 months. That could include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physio or a combination, depending on the needs of each child and their family. That child could then be referred to the ACT government’s three-year-old early learning initiative for that really vital early childhood education experience. This new service means that more children will be getting a great start to their education, and families will be able to access these important supports free.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, how will the new service be delivered?

MS BERRY: The new service will start seeing children and their families in February. It will operate out of the Child Development Service, to give families a seamless experience from the developmental assessment to the therapies that will be provided free for that age group.

The government is currently recruiting allied health professionals—speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists—to deliver those services. Applications for those jobs close on 2 December and I encourage anyone in those professions to apply. This is such an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of local children and families.

DR PATERSON: Minister, how does this announcement fit with the First 1,000 Days Strategy?

MS BERRY: I thank Dr Pettersson for her interest in this matter.

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