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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 23 March 2017) . . Page.. 1027 ..

ACT Playgroups Association

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.49): I rise today to speak about the ACT Playgroups Association and the wonderful contribution it has made to the Canberra community, in particular for parents with young children.

In April 1973, 15 mothers met in Torrens community hall to form Canberra’s first community playgroup. By April 1974 there were 73 playgroups operating in the Canberra area. Today there are over 200 playgroups in the ACT, with nearly 2,200 families enjoying playgroup experiences each year.

The ACT Playgroups Association is a non-profit community organisation committed to providing quality services and support to families with young children across our region. Playgroups not only give children the chance to have fun, make new friends and develop skills through informal play, but also enable parents and carers to meet new people and spend quality time with their children in a relaxed environment.

ACT Playgroups is one of the many organisations that fall under the administration of SHOUT, which will be allowed to die, potentially within a few months, thanks to the failure by the ACT government to extend its funding at this point in time. Along with the hundreds of parents and carers who rely on government funding to support their playgroups, I am deeply distressed and disturbed to hear that help for SHOUT, and subsequently for ACT Playgroups, has been deemed to be a little too hard at the moment. Even Jon Stanhope has jumped in to support SHOUT, saying:

The ACT government, with a budget of $5 billion, can’t fund $120,000 to support children with brain injuries, women with breast cancer, children with cancer?

I would like to add that it is unbelievable that the government cannot at this stage promise clear support for playgroups all around the ACT that bring together over 2,000 parents and children every week.

The parents who have contributed to running these playgroups over the years cannot be thanked enough. Simply by bringing together their fellow parents and their children, you are enabling people to make friends, share ideas and have fun. There are also cultural playgroups. There are multi-language playgroups that are run by the Playgroups Association. There are religious playgroups. I would also like to mention president Eric Chalmers, vice-president Kathryn Moffatt and all the backroom staff and volunteers who keep this association running behind the scenes.

In closing, I thank ACT Playgroups for the work they have done in bringing together the community over the past 44 years, and I desperately hope they will be able to continue their wonderful work with support in the future.

Soroptimist International—International Women’s Day event

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.52): I would like to talk about an International Women’s Day breakfast that I and the Greens team attended on

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