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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15537

Mr QUICK (12:13 PM) —I take this unexpected opportunity to talk about something in my electorate that I am very proud of. Some of the schools in my electorate have introduced breakfast clubs. It is a bit of an indictment on our society when schools and neighbourhood centres in my electorate see a real need to provide breakfast for anything up to 74 children—as in one particular school in my electorate—and not just one day but five days a week. These schools are doing a fantastic job, and it is not just the school children and teachers who are benefiting; the whole community is benefiting from the fact that these children have a solid meal in their stomachs before they commence school. Three of these schools are close to my electorate office and one is in a suburb a bit further away called Risdon Vale. The breakfast club at Risdon Vale has been going for quite a while now—a couple of years—and it is not unusual to see up to 70 young children arriving there on a cold, frosty morning to be served a range of cereals, porridge, orange juice, Milo, and toast with all the accoutrements.

As well as providing breakfast to the children, the adults—there are usually about 20 there—sit down, have breakfast and talk to them about issues. This builds a relationship between adults and young people generally that I think strengthens a community approach. Just recently Herdsman's Cove Primary School, Bridgewater Primary School and Gagebrook Primary School have taken up the challenge set by Risdon Vale Primary School. At first we only had one child in each of the three schools because there was a reluctance to get involved, but now up to 30 children attend. It is wonderful to see the relationship being developed in these three schools between the children, the staff, the parents and the volunteers who assist in that provision of breakfast.

To their credit, the state Labor government has finally put its money where its mouth is. Initially, neighbourhood houses, involved parents and the Coles supermarket chain provided all the ingredients free of charge. The state government said in its pre-election promises that it would fund this, but there was some indecision about whether it should be through the education department or the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Knowing bureaucracies, it takes a stack of time to get things up and running. But the people in these four communities wanted to have the program up and running from the first day of the first term, to make sure that the kids were in a routine so that when winter came they would have the opportunity to have a wholesome, nourishing breakfast.

From those initial four schools this project has now moved right through my electorate, and lots of schools now have a breakfast club. At one of the high schools the breakfast club is organised by a church group called Fusion, which is doing a fantastic job. They see the breakfast club at Kingston High School as a way of developing relationships with a lot of kids who are having real hassles not only at school but also in their families and relationships. It is a chance for them to sit down with the kids, have a breakfast, share some thoughts and build some relationships.

I would like to congratulate all the schools in my electorate that are supporting, fostering and promoting the breakfast clubs. To the mums and dads who find it difficult, for a variety of reasons, to provide their kids with breakfast, I say thank you for sharing your kids with us. Hopefully, some of these parents will get involved in working in the schools and seeing their kids in a different light. So I take this unexpected opportunity to speak for five minutes to thank the people who are involved. They make a wonderful effort, and I commend them for it. (Time expired)