Page 1378 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013

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by the Canberra Liberals. This was, as I have said earlier, widely rejected by the sector, and since then from the Canberra Liberals there has been silence. In fact, again as Dr Bourke pointed out, ACT Labor was the only party to take a policy to the community about supporting and growing the childhood sector.

Mr Assistant Speaker, for you to come in here and to say that we have done nothing in this space shows your complete lack of awareness and refusal to accept the over 8,300 places that are now in the sector and the significant moneys going into upgrades in community and government-owned facilities that are improving opportunities and choice for Canberra families. It is a great disappointment that the Canberra Liberals have let down the community of Canberra.

Mr Rattenbury commented about playschools and playgroups, and I also recognise these play an important part and have an important place within families. They provide opportunities not only for families to take their children to a place of play and learning but also for mothers and fathers to get together for what is a much-needed bit of peer support when we are raising our young children.

I assure the community that this government understands the importance of affordable and quality child care, and we will continue to work with the sector to deliver opportunities, expand the number of places, improve the quality and keep costs down for Canberra families.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.17): Mr Assistant Speaker, as you would be aware and as you noted earlier today in your contribution, I have spoken a number of times in the Legislative Assembly on the importance of investment in early childhood education. This matter of public importance is an opportunity to discuss and talk about the success of ACT Labor and the federal Labor government’s commitment to the sector. What a shame that the opposition used it as an opportunity to disrespect the professionals who work in the sector.

It is a pleasure for me to again speak on this issue because I know an investment in early childhood educators is an investment in our community, our workforce and our families. The importance of the work early childhood educators do cannot be overstated. Early childhood educators play a vital role in the development of our children. These are the first people parents entrust with the care of their children. They are responsible for helping children to learn to play with others, to interact in new environments and to build characters that will last with them for the rest of their lives.

Both the ACT and the federal Labor governments know the success and stability of the early childhood education sector is not just about investment in bricks and mortar but in jobs and training for the people who make the sector function. The federal government funding commitment will support ACT government investment in training by encouraging workers to stay and grow into leadership roles in this sector. But this is only the first step in the big steps campaign, and it is a long road to the full professional recognition of early childhood educators. I know we will be hearing from big steps campaigners and their union as they move forward in achieving this goal.

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