Page 490 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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program run by the Gungahlin, Tuggeranong and west Belconnen child and family centres?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her question and for her ongoing interest in activities for Canberra’s families, particularly for families who may be vulnerable.

This year was the first time that the child and family centres network had conducted a school holiday program, in my understanding, and it was a very popular program. As well as connecting with staff and meeting other families, the kids and families program offered a terrific range of activities, all for free. These included working with clay, gardening, painting, Aboriginal storytelling and yoga, to name just a few.

The program also ran events to bring people together. I was lucky enough to attend the growing healthy families barbecue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Tuggeranong and a taste of culture workshop at the west Belconnen centre, which showcased the local culture and heritage of the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. There was also a Tuggeranong park teddy bear’s picnic, which I understand was very popular, while Gungahlin families had the opportunity to visit their local library, followed by a healthy morning tea—a Meegan Fitzharris approved morning tea!

The program was of particular benefit to families who already engage with a wide range of services offered by the centres, such as parenting support and multicultural playgroups. But the welcoming environment also meant that new families came into the centres for the first time and were able to find out more about the support available for families with young children through the centres.

The kids and families holiday program attracted an impressive total of 624 children across the three child and family centres. I commend the child and family centre staff on the delivery of this great program of activities, and indeed on the work they do throughout the year.

MS ORR: Minister, how many clients, families and children accessed services and programs through the child and family centres last year?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her supplementary question. I am pleased to report that a total of 1,830 families accessed services at the child and family centres in 2015-16. There was an interesting difference in the data, however, between 2014-15 and 2015-16. While the number of families accessing the child and family centres went down slightly, the number using services more frequently increased.

What this appears to tell us is that centres are working with some families over a longer period of time and are providing those families with a more intensive, more tailored service offer. This level of service provision is making a real difference in the lives of Canberra’s families and their children. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, the child and family centres are increasingly being integrated into a holistic prevention and early intervention approach to supporting vulnerable families or those at risk.

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