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Telethon research: invest early in Indigenous children.

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MEDIA RELEASE Senator Chris Evans Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

23 November 2006

Telethon research: Invest early in Indigenous children

"The latest research from the Telethon Institute for Child Health demonstrates that more investment in early years for Indigenous children must be a priority," Senator Chris Evans said today.

According to the Telethon Institute's findings, a whopping 60 per cent of Indigenous children are below average academically by the time they get to Year One.

"Waiting until disadvantaged kids get to school is clearly leaving it too late," Senator Evans said.

"Unfortunately, Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough specialises in simplistic, quick-fix, headline-grabbing announcements, such as the proposals for quarantining welfare payments for disadvantaged families he announced today.

"We hope he will also turn his mind to this latest research from the Telethon Institute, which would help him devise some policies which could actually improve disadvantaged children's lives in the long term."

According to the researchers, many existing interventions fail Indigenous children because they are "too little, too late".

"This latest research adds to the evidence-base which should be informing current policy development in this important area," Senator Evans said.

"It shows that programs targeted at the very early years and which address the multiple causes of disadvantage are likely to yield the best results in the long term."

Contact: Tim Friedrich 0417 753 219