Legislative Council Hansard
Thursday 12th June 2008


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, it is all too apparent that our communities are facing great challenges as fuel prices increase.  The extra burden on families means that they must seek services as close to their homes as possible.  So it is fortuitous that the development of a new child and family centre is under way in my electorate of Rosevears at Beaconsfield.  The Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre Incorporated came about in response to a current and growing need for a local child-care facility in the area.  It aims to provide a sustainable child and family centre that supports a seamless approach to care of children and also family wellbeing.

The wider community in the Beaconsfield area, I am sure, will appreciate the services that it will provide because the West Tamar is a very fast-growing region, Madam President.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics report of April 2005 shows that the West Tamar municipal area with a population of 21 000 and a growth rate of 1.8 per cent, considerably more than the State average, is growing.  Figures from the 2006 census for the postcode area of 7270, which includes Beaconsfield, Sidmouth, Greens Beach, Beauty Point, Kelso and Rowella, showed 594 children under the age of 12 years.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - No television?

Mr FINCH - That is what it is.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Every cloud has a silver lining.

Of these, 208 were aged between nought to four years and 214 aged five to nine years with a further 172 aged 10 to 12 years.  The adult income levels from the 2006 census data for the West Tamar municipal area showed that almost 48 per cent received an income of less than $300 per week, with just over 44 per cent in the $300 to $900 per week bracket.

It becomes obvious from those figures, Madam President, that a Beaconsfield child and family centre is needed.  We have a committee, chaired by Craig Tyeson, of which I am a member.  We have been seeking funds for some years now and we seem to have hit the jackpot.  The Federal Government has agreed to fund the centre and there has been an allocation initially of $114.5 million to build 260 centres across Australia and the very first one is going to be built at Beaconsfield.  Negotiations are currently under way with the Federal Government and the State Education department to facilitate the construction and establishment of the centre in the 2008-09 financial year.

Development plans have been submitted to the Federal Government, the Department of Education and the West Tamar Council and it is anticipated that the centre will be open in early 2009.  It is going to provide places for 40 children up to five years of age as well as offering before and after-school care for up to 15 children.  The centre will also provide family support to meet the local community needs through provision of services such as counselling, speech pathology, health checks and immunisations and other family support services as well as providing venues for meetings.  I think fellow members here can see that this facility is going to be an absolute boon to our community.  It will be centrally located within Beaconsfield on Department of Education land.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - Next to the school?

Mr FINCH - Adjacent to the Beaconsfield Primary School.  There was is fact a house just on one corner which has been demolished to make way for the new centre, which is just very fortuitous.  This will help families with more than one child by allowing them to in fact cut down on vehicle mileage.  The concept of a child and family centre will help the community in numerous ways, Madam President. 

It is often not realised that there are benefits to local business and employment as well as directly to the families and children.  As far as children themselves are concerned there are, of course, improved learning opportunities for the preschool-aged children when they are able to join with 40 or so other young children.  In addition they become familiar with a school environment in familiar, low-stress surroundings, and that makes the entry to primary school much easier.  A child and family centre will also provide hand-over arrangements for separated families, again in that low-stress environment. 

Madam President, the child and family centre model will also help families in the following ways.  It will address the overflowing needs of childcare and out-of-school care in Beaconsfield and the surrounding community.  It will provide respite services for families when needed, and support for all families within the community including those that may be disadvantaged.  Of course there will be benefits for the local community because there will be a greater opportunity for work force participation by parents of young children.  The child and family centre at Beaconsfield will provide up to 10 jobs, which is important. 

One of the most important roles, Madam President, is that it will act as a community hub as it is going to be located within the primary school with the police and fire station close by.  The online access centre is in the same area; there is a neighbourhood house; and the senior citizens hall.  At the primary school the concept provides a model for similar centres being established elsewhere and I am proud that the first of Australia's 260 new child and family centres will be established in my electorate. 

I would like to acknowledge the members who were on that committee who have done a wonderful job - Craig Tyeson who is our indefatigable chair; Narelle Williams who is the secretary; Bunty-Ann Gebbett, the treasurer and public officer; Rebecca Savage; Mel Harris; Viv Tyson; Kerry McCormick; Kath Currie; and others who have helped in the past - Naree Hodge; Dianne Maynard; Tania Ackerly; and last and by all means least, the member for Rosevears.