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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3122

Mr McLean asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:

(   1 ) Did he say in answer to my question without notice on 30 May 1977 (Hansard, page 2097), regarding child care programs, that a number of research studies have been funded in previous years under the Children's Services Program, some of them relating to psycho-social development of children; if so, which of these studies researched the matter raised in my question.

(2)   Have any of these studies confirmed the findings of certain prominent British psychiatrists who have found that children under the age of 3 years and who constantly lose the care of their mothers through hospitalisation or regular attendance at child care institutions, suffer long term psychological and emotional damage.

(3)   If no similar studies have been undertaken in Australia, will the Minister for Social Security give consideration to funding this research.

Mr Hunt - The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question.

(1)   Three research reports which have some bearing on the issues you have raised have been funded under the auspices of the Children's Services Program. These are:

(a)   A comparative study of attachment patterns in creche and home reared two year olds;

(b)   Distribution of attention to familiar and novel stimulation in day care and home infants;

(c)   Three studies of language and communications in pre-school children at home and in day care centres.

These studies have been distributed and a copy of each is available in the National Library in Canberra.

(2)   There is nothing in the findings of these studies which would indicate that children in regular attendance in day care or related services suffer long term psychological and emotional damage.

The World Health Organisation Chronicle recently made reference to a Report of the WHO Expert Committee on Mental Health in an article 'Child Development- Separating Fact from Fancy'.

This article stated: 'Children are not inevitably damaged by receiving day care outside the home or by having mothers who go out to work, as was mistakenly argued by some previous WHO expert groups. It has been demonstrated that good quality day care can have positive psycho-social benefit, especially for children from seriously disadvantaged or disordered homes'.

(3)   The findings of various research studies conducted both here and overseas indicate that there is a need for further research into the effects of environment on the psycho-social development of young children.

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