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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 24 November 2005) . . Page.. 4616 ..

child protection and childhood development in the ACT, including Gungahlin, is having a positive effect. These results indicate that the majority of children in Gungahlin are doing well across all of the developmental domains, but there are a small number of children vulnerable in each of the developmental domains.

Our children’s plan discusses the importance of population-based outcome measures and suggests the implementation of the early development index as an option to measure the health and wellbeing of ACT children. This pilot of the program in Gungahlin provides a valuable opportunity to consider the usefulness of implementing this index ACT wide.

Perhaps the most important part of the data we have received is the ability for us to target programs and priorities towards areas of need and children in need within a region or a district of the ACT. It also allows us to target our programs and, if they are not going into the right area, to be able to make those changes and to invest them in the right areas to support the early years of young Canberrans.

MS PORTER: Minister, you mentioned the efforts the ACT government has made to invest in the early years of Canberrans living in Gungahlin. Which investments do you think have led to this positive rating under the Australian early development index?

MS GALLAGHER: The ACT government recognises the importance of investing in the early years to optimise the longer-term outcomes for our children. We have made significant investment in new and improved services in the ACT for young children and their families. This investment includes the new, award-winning P to 10 school in Amaroo, at a cost of around $30 million; $2.8 million on the Gungahlin childcare centre, which has places for 90 children aged from nought to five; $3.1 million for the purpose-built child and family centre in Gungahlin, which is the centre that piloted this program.

Mrs Dunne: Probably the biggest single determinant is that their parents are in work.

MS GALLAGHER: Mrs Dunne cannot bear it; she cannot bear listening to a positive story about young children in one of our regions doing well because of targeted programs and support from the government. She just sits there, makes snide remarks and undermines constantly what is a positive story which members of the opposition should be listening to—a constituency for members opposite—about children, how they are performing and how the government is supporting them. That is what this information to the Assembly is about. All Mrs Dunne can do is sit there, make snide and negative comments and constantly interject.

The child and family centre in Gungahlin was the centre which piloted this program. It is the first centre like this in the ACT. The permanent centre, which we are building at the moment and which will be opened early next year, is running a number of programs. Over the trolley is a universal parenting information initiative conducted in the Gungahlin marketplace. Paint and play is a program for children and their parents who seek to identify early developmental concerns in children who may not be accessing universal services and to increase parents’ capacity through modelling and play.

The government has provided approximately $1.3 million a year in recurrent funding for the child and family centre. For the first time in Canberra we have a place where parents

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