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Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Page: 3509


Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (10:24): I was absolutely delighted and really pleased to take a step back into my own childhood by participating in Early Learning Matters Week from 1 September to 6 September. It's a terrific national initiative for service providers to increase the understanding of how important early learning is in the lives of our children. The first thousand days of a child's life are the most important and influential and set everyone up for a successful life—if they can have that opportunity. Research shows that disadvantaged children in particular who attend quality early learning centres at least two days per week are more likely to finish school, more likely to get higher paying jobs as adults and more likely to own their own homes as adults. This is what the evidence shows us.

I was fortunate to visit the Samaritans Early Learning Centre at Woodberry to see the quality education there in action. Like so many terrific childcare centres in our community, this centre provides children with invaluable activities that support children's developmental, social, emotional, cognitive and language skills. I just want to shout out to Brad Webb, the Samaritans CEO; the director of the Woodberry centre, Sam Kulupach; the early childhood educators at the centre, Amanda, Sharron, Rhonda, Bec, Rachael, Natasha, Michelle, Megan and Louise; and all of their team. You do such an incredible job with our precious children.

One of the highlights of the visit was undertaking the You Can Do It! program, used to teach school readiness skills and tools that our children need to succeed in life. The children learn lots of lessons from some terrific puppets. I want to take the House through them. There's Connie Confidence, who teaches the children, 'It's okay to make mistakes when I'm learning something new'; Pete Persistence, who teaches, 'I never give up'; Ricky Resilience, who teaches, 'I can calm down when I am upset, sad or angry'; Oscar Organisation, who teaches, 'I take care of things by putting them away when I have finished using them'; and Gabby Get-Along—this is a really important one—who teaches, 'I like to get along with other people and I try and fix problems by talking, not fighting'. I think that the You Can Do It! program would go well here in parliament. Maybe we need to get Connie, Pete, Ricky, Oscar and Gabby Get-Along here in parliament to teach us all some valuable lessons.

While I was at the centre I also learnt about some of the challenges and frustrations they face. I want to appeal to the Morrison government: if you want to help disadvantaged families, make early education easier, not harder.