Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
The Australian Government will provide $2.8 million over three years to extend funding for two existing Intensive Support Playgroups (ISPs) and three Locational Supported Playgroups (LSPs) in the Northern Territory. Services will also be expanded by funding an additional ISP and two additional LSPs making a total of eight playgroups in the Northern Territory. These playgroups for children from birth to five years old are facilitated by paid co-ordinators and integrate with other community services. ISPs also deliver mobile services across a number of sites.
This measure is part of the Supporting Families component of Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory. It supports strategic priorities in closing the gap targets for Indigenous people. Playgroups provide an effective ‘soft entry’ service point by which hard to reach children and their families can be linked to health, education and family support services. They also assist the transition to pre-school and school. They promote positive early childhood and development and contribute to increased child safety and well being. They provide extensive support to isolated and vulnerable families to stabilise their circumstances by building linkages to a wide range of community services.
The measure is being implemented in consultation with the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations and is aligned with other Closing the Gap measures to ensure an integrated approach to the implementation and delivery of early childhood and parenting assistance.
The measure builds on the existing ISPs and LSPs which have been effective in strengthening the parenting skills of very disadvantaged Indigenous families and providing young Indigenous children with access to age and culturally appropriate activities. Supporting children and families at this critical developmental stage leads to improvements in life outcomes. Assistance will be increased to an estimated 410 vulnerable Indigenous families and children.
The existing playgroups are located in Katherine, Tennant Creek, Milingimbi, Numbulwar and Yuendumu. Katherine and Tennant Creek sites were established in 1997. Milingimbi, Numbulwar and Yuendumu commenced in 2009. Additional sites for the three additional playgroups are being selected in consultation with the Northern Territory Government, non-government organisations, local communities and other Australian Government agencies. The measures will run until June 2012.
These playgroups are a part of the Australian Governments broader Playgroup Program which funds over 8,000 Community Playgroups across Australia, over 100 Supported Playgroups to assist parents who experience barriers to accessing Community Playgroups, and additional ISPs and LSPs.
The measure will commence in July 2009. Funding Agreements will be extended for the service providers of the existing playgroups in Katherine (Good Beginnings Australia), Tennant Creek (Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation), Milingimbi (Anglicare NT), Numbulwar (Anglicare NT) and Yuendumu (World Vision).
Tender processes will be conducted to identify suitable service providers for the new sites.
Total Government Funding
$2.8 million over three years.