Page 4500 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (4.54): I rise today to speak on the importance of Children’s Week. I start by endorsing the comments of my colleagues, Ms Cheyne and Mr Steel.

Children’s Week is a national celebration of children’s rights, talents and citizenship. We hold Children’s Week around Universal Children’s Day, which is marked on the fourth Wednesday of October in Australia. This Children’s Week, of course, also marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Children and Young People Commissioner in the ACT.

I was very pleased to be able to attend the birthday party at Woden Youth Centre on Tuesday. It was particularly great to be there with a bunch of 10-year-olds, who had a great time engaging in creative activities that expressed their wishes for the future of Canberra and their own lives in another 10 years time.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Week is that education has the power to transform children’s lives. It is an appropriate time to reflect on the programs that enable Canberra’s kids to make a great start in their learning journey, to ensure they have the best possible chance of living a great life.

I was fortunate to attend this year’s launch of the On My First Day book with the Deputy Chief Minister and minister for education, Yvette Berry, a couple of weeks ago. On My First Day has been a highly successful ACT government initiative over recent years. We welcomed On My First Day being available again to support children who will start kindergarten in 2018.

The On My First Day book contains messages and drawings from children to children about what it is like to start school. Around 7,000 Canberra children entering kindergarten in 2018 will get a copy. Children who are quoted .in the book say the first day can make you feel “nervous, happy, scared”—“happy because I made new friends”—or you might have “butterflies and feel excited”.

There is also great practical advice to help children and parents prepare for the transition to kindergarten. The book is included in the transition pack distributed to government, independent and Catholic preschools; libraries; community agencies; and through child and family centres. The transition pack is a joint project between the Community Services Directorate, the Education Directorate and Libraries ACT. It is a really great example of our directorates working together.

The government continues to support other innovative and useful programs to help kids and their families in moments of transition to education. This month, the prep for pre program is being rolled out across the four ACT school networks. It is a great example of how the ACT government uses data and works collaboratively to deliver better services.

Developed in response to data from the Australian Early Development Census and from West Belconnen Child and Family Centre, the program is a targeted transition-to-preschool program. It is designed to work with those families who may

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