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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3046..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

affordability and access to child care and educational activities for those children prior to going to school.

I have asked the department, from memory-I always get myself in trouble here-to meet with the Playgroups Association to work through some of the concerns. Last year we did provide them with some one-off funding to assist them with what they were going through-I guess, looking at how they provided their services. They have written back to me saying they are still experiencing financial hardship. We need to work that through with the Playgroups Association.

In terms of targeting the number of children that go to playgroups, the government does not have a target but we certainly value and support the provision of playgroup activities offered by the association throughout Canberra.

MS DUNDAS: I thank the minister for her answer. I understand that the new triennial agreement with the ACT Playgroups Association has included funding for promoting participation in playgroups, as was indicated, but it does not actually include any more money to support new groups that are established to meet the demand that is out there. Why has the agreement been set up in that framework? Why are not we supporting the Playgroups Association as they try to meet that demand?

MS GALLAGHER: I will get back to you on the detail of the agreement and whether they have signed the agreement that is in place for the next three years because I just do not know the deal that has been done around that. I cannot remember whether the Playgroups Association wrote to me post that or prior to that, but I will certainly get some advice and get back to you.

Canberra social plan

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question through you is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Chief Minister, I refer to the Canberra social plan released by you in February this year and, in particular, to one of its flagships-the community inclusion fund. Can you tell the Assembly how the fund will operate and what expressions of support for it have come from the community?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms MacDonald. That is a very important question. The community inclusion fund was designed to assist, and certainly will assist, the most vulnerable members of our community as part of a deliberate and concerted attack by this government on the causes of poverty and exclusion within the Canberra community. More than $6 million has been set aside for the fund over this cycle. The focus of the fund will primarily be to build on existing initiatives, that have the support of local communities, by funding additional human services staff, such as community development officers, social workers, youth workers, counsellors, psychologists and other health workers in areas of high need.

Proposals for funding that fill gaps in current service provision or meet significant unmet need involve partnerships between the community and government providers. They have a service delivery focus and they meet the social plan objectives. Those are the sorts of proposals that will be encouraged. The first round of proposals for the community inclusion fund will be sought from agencies and community groups early in the new

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