Wednesday 14 September 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council
TASMANIAN EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION (WINDING-UP) BILL 2016 (No. 44)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, given that the Government effectively killed the Early Years Foundation in its original form some time ago with a far from compelling argument and minimal savings, I see no reason to oppose this bill. It is merely the final nail in an already well-secured coffin lid.
While I support this bill, there were some issues in claims made in the second reading speech. This Tasmanian Early Years Foundation was established in 2005 by the then Labor government under legislation to support the wellbeing, learning and development of children from birth to age six and we have heard that six years of age enunciated already. There is no need to go into my own thoughts on that and, as we have heard, that will unfold as we go into the changes to the Education Act.
I want to quote from the foundation's report after the consultations that were held about what might replace the foundation -
Projects and activities which have been initiated by the foundation during its 10 years of operation have included:
- empowering parents, empowering communities
- support for Child and Family Centres including a learning development strategy, action research project and evaluation.
I will digress to mention my own Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre which has been a great success story as far as my electorate is concerned. The minister came to visit recently and whilst I do not want to put words in his mouth or over-quote him, he was impressed, to say the least, and I appreciate that on invitation he came to visit us.
- creative connections in the early years - arts‑based projects and events.
- Scholarships. That was provision of funding to support the ongoing professional development and learning of sector leaders.
- professional development. Sponsoring and initiating high quality conferences and learning opportunities.
- marketing and awareness-raising campaigns, including Tasmania's Biggest Job campaign.
As we can ascertain, the Early Years Foundation was very effective over a decade and had a strong role to play in Tasmania and that early stage of the development of children and families. Those who attended the consultations about the future were supportive of the role of the foundation as a sector leader, including suggestions made at the forums that the foundation become a peak body for the sector. The foundation's report acknowledges establishing it as a peak body required further investigation to ascertain if this is feasible, viable and palpable for both the sector and the government.
We must now put our faith into this new iteration, the B4 Early Years Coalition and keep our fingers crossed.
We have heard mention about the link that comes across from the Early Years Foundation to Elizabeth Daly and to Mark Morrissey and their corporate knowledge will travel with them across to this new organisation and then we will see what unfolds from there.
I acknowledge, as we heard in the second reading speech, the original reasons for establishing the foundation have been overtaken by a range of initiatives that support early learning and development. The Government has introduced a range of measures to protect and nurture our young children.
The $26 million to implement the Safe Homes, Safe Families, Tasmania's Family Violence Action Plan 2015 to 2020; a Strong Family - Safe Kids Implementation Plan; reforms to the sex offender sentencing in accordance with the commitment to introduce minimum mandatory sentencing for serious child sexual offences; the reintroducing of nurses to state schools, and concentration on the draft Commissioner for Children and Young People Bill to strengthen the powers of the commissioner. All well and good, but one of the earlier and very important roles of the foundation was to influence and shape government policy for families and the early years so presumably the Government no longer believes it needs such advice from the Early Years Foundation.