Tuesday 21 November 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Child and Family Centres in Tasmania - Consideration and Noting Final Report

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I want to run through all the findings and the recommendations in detail.

Mr Dean - Thank you very much; you will be here on your own.

Mr FINCH - That was good to do.  I do not want to go back over the history of my non‑involvement in the committee, but suffice to say that I was not invited in the first place, even though I was on the board of the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre and one of the originators of the idea.  Then, as a member, I could not retain that position on the board, probably because of conflict with the chairman; I was invited on and I had a hissy fit and decided not to get involved.

Mr Valentine - There is nothing like the truth, is there?

Mr FINCH - I am pleased the member for Elwick took it on.  It is a good experience-builder for you, but you come from a teaching background which gives you an insight into childhood, young people, parents and the issues they have and share.  It was really good for the other members, from what I am hearing, to be able to embrace these child and family centres.

We were blessed in Beaconsfield to be the first in Australia with a child and family centre and then to work through the process of 'what does it all mean?  Can we really achieve what has been the suggestion that might be achieved with the child and family centres?'

Our community embraced that journey.  We had a strong need.  The bonus for us was that it was established at the school.  We had that connection with the younger ones coming through, with mum and dad preferably, and then through into the school.

It is like the early school starting age debate we had.  It is that connection from the baby through into the school system.  We had the perfect opportunity there.  It has been working a treat from what I can ascertain.

Mr Willie - It is making kids school-ready.  When they have reached that point, they are ready to access the curriculum, to socialise.  They have their emotional development behind them.

Mr FINCH - Yes, and Launching into Learning as part of the process as well.  We have a library between the school and the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre.  We have a neighbourhood house on the other side, so it is a real community focus as far as that is concerned.   We are blessed in Beaconsfield to have that.
I went for a coffee at Paper Beach on Sunday and ran into Stewart Bell, a young chap who was recently appointed the CEO for the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre.  It is good to have a young man in that position and he comes from the West Tamar Council.  I asked him to give me a bit of a rundown on what they are up to.  I have found it very difficult with parliament this year since he has been appointed, to actually get to meetings because I am normally down here when they have the meetings. 

Just to give you some idea of what is actually going on there now, they are currently consulting with the community to generate some feedback and ideas for improvement in 2018, so they are in a comfortable position where they can run a survey like that.  It will be open for two weeks.  It is available online and in hard copy, and they are seeking feedback in relation to programs, services, events, upgrading their playroom space and also training opportunities.  They are communicating strongly with the people who are users of the centre and among the staff as well - they will be part of the program. 

Stories and songs:  as I mentioned, this term BCFC has partnered with the Beaconsfield Library - Linc - just outside the door.  They have developed a brand-new oral language focus program entitled, 'Stories and songs'.  This is held fortnightly at the library and features songs, stories and action rhymes for children aged zero to five.  That way, if the family that the child is from is not providing that sort of stimulation, here is where the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre, or any CFC, can have a role in developing that stimulus for young people.

They have had an autism workshop.  The Department of Education ASC specialist, Mary Brake, is going to return to the centre on 24 November.  This autism workshop serves as a follow‑up to continue to build on the work already undertaken with parents; it will focus on behavioural management strategies and supporting parents. 

A working together agreement:  the CFC has recently liaised with the community service providers and other stakeholders to develop a working together agreement for the centre.  That WTA outlines the values that they will consider important and the commitment to working together in a positive and constructive way.  This ensures a common philosophy and a framework is in place and that respective roles and responsibilities are understood by the service providers.  The community can be involved in that as well.

Children's Week on 30 October:  the CFC held an event to celebrate Children's Week and activities included bag decorating, stress balls, messy play, biscuits, balloon sculpting, giveaways and free coffees for parents. The event was well attended by the community and they hope to do something similar next year.
Stewart Bell is the sort of organiser who is able to effect that sort of motivation for people and to draw people together so we are a little bit blessed in that coordinator situation as well.

The CFC state forum on Friday, 17 November was held in George Town, just across the river, and showcased the work currently being undertaken by CFCs across the state.  It featured a range of guest speakers and workshops. 

Our education officer, Roxy Barrett, delivered a presentation on oral language in partnership with the George Town CFC, and the keynote address was delivered by Jonathon Welch, the founder of the Choir of Hard Knocks.  That was a good partnership-sharing opportunity with the CFC forum. 

The centre also continues to provide a broad range of programs to build the knowledge and the skills of parents.  This is what was being highlighted.  It is about developing the skills and the connectivity of the parents with the centre and with their children.  As you pointed out, member for Windermere, it is developing them in the community as well because they often have huge issues in their lives and they need a lot of nurturing and encouragement.

Recent training at the centre involved what was called a Circle of Security, which is an eight-week course to build parent capacity.  Cooking and that sort of thing.  I might get a guernsey to go and do another cooking demonstration and also a first aid course when the people who have eaten my food attack me. 
Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Thanks very much to Stewart Bell and the staff there.  It is a great facility and we have that opportunity.  I wish, with your recommendations, for other communities that are not so lucky to be able to have those in their community to help their communities develop as we have through the acquisition of the child and family centre for Beaconsfield.

I note the report and well done to you and your committee.