Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 907 ..
interventions for protecting children and our community from the devastating effects of vaccine preventable disease.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that achieving such high rates of immunisation is a collaborative effort between ACT Health, the commonwealth Department of Health, the Capital Health Network, our many private and community sector immunisation providers and of course the ACT community.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (4.11): As Ms Fitzharris has identified, there can be a tension between two very important interests here, that is, the health of a child and the education of a child. Preventing disease outbreak and supporting each child to a high standard of health is in their best interests. This is extremely important and also in the best interests of the wider community. The ACT government will continue to sustain and improve our already very high childhood immunisation rates. The Minister for Health has detailed our commitment to preventing infectious diseases, and I fully support her.
It is also extremely important to give every child access to education that will establish them on a path to a good life. Education is life changing, and it is founded in the education in the early years of a child’s life. More and more evidence is showing that early childhood education can be a determinative of a child’s success in school.
The debate so far has focused on parents who consciously choose not to immunise their children. These parents are in the minority. For those children who are not immunised, vaccinations are missed generally because of practical issues, disadvantage and social exclusion. Overwhelmingly it is also children living in disadvantage that are not able to access early childhood education. The last thing our community should be doing is creating further barriers for these children or punishing them for their life circumstances.
Enhancing access to education and care for disadvantaged families is likely to improve childhood immunisation by providing better access to accurate advice and support. As the government develops a strategy for early childhood education and care, we will be looking at ways that we can better connect children, particularly those who may be disconnected, to the health and community services they need. The Labor government is focused on equity, on bringing people together and making sure that no-one is excluded from our society.
It is important to note that education and early childhood development ministers will be meeting in a couple of weeks and they have some carriage of this issue through the national quality framework, which ministers will discuss at the ministers meeting. I thank the Assembly for the chance to discuss this very important issue, and I support Ms Fitzharris’ amendment to the motion.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.14): I thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing forward this important motion today. I am pleased to speak in support of the motion and also to