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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9510

Mr CLARE (Parliamentary Secretary for Employment) (4:14 PM) —In 11 days 15,000 people will converge on Paul Keating Park in Bankstown to celebrate the 11th annual Bankstown Children’s Festival. As I have said before in this place, it is a fantastic event. There is everything from face painting to fireworks. This year the festival will have a new addition. It will officially welcome the new additions to our local community at an event that I am organising called Welcoming the Babies. Bankstown is the baby capital of Sydney. In 2007 there were 2,700 babies born in Bankstown—more than almost anywhere else in Australia. Having a child is one of the most important decisions that we will ever make. This event is a small way to say thank you to those parents and guardians who take on this important responsibility.

Australia’s fertility rate has fallen dramatically over the last 50 years. In 1961 the fertility rate was 3.5 children per woman. Today it stands at 1.9. As the second Intergenerational report, released in 2007, shows, the drop in our fertility rate is one of the main factors contributing to the ageing of our population. This in turn will slow economic growth and the rise in living standards and puts more pressure on the budget in areas like health, aged care and the pension. It is the decisions that we make here and that parents and guardians make that will help us meet the challenge of an ageing population. That is why I am organising this event.

Every child will receive a special certificate welcoming them to our local community, and every mum and dad will get a bag full of helpful parenting information on things like developing babies’ learning and motor skills, breastfeeding, healthy food options, playgroups, immunisation and toilet training. I want to thank Baby Kingdom, Bounty, Centro Bankstown, Inky Feet, Advent, Church and Dwight Co., Gaia Skin Naturals, Nicepak and Nutricia Australia, who have all donated the information and the products that are going in the bags. I also want to thank Bankstown City Council, who have donated a native tree to each family. I also thank Creating Links, Bankstown Community Resource Group and the Benevolent Society’s Brighter Futures program along with Centrelink Bankstown, who are holding information stalls, and Bankstown Family Day Care, GymbaRoo and Bankstown Library’s Lapsit Storytime program, who are going to provide entertainment on the day. Welcoming the Babies promises to be a great event, and I hope it becomes a permanent addition to the Bankstown Children’s Festival.