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New child centres for WA primary schools

Additional child centres announced but still no plan to address shortage of child health nurses.

Child and parent centres aimed at helping families with children at risk will be set up at 10 West Australian primary schools under a $29 million state government program.

Announcing the program last week, Premier Colin Barnett said the centres would be established in areas where there was a high concentration of vulnerable children.

The WA government will invest $28.8 million over the next four years to set up the centres, aiming to support children to develop into healthy and well educated young people.

From next year a further 75 schools in disadvantaged areas will be made eligible for grants of up to $10,000 to provide support programs.

WA Education Minister Liz Constable said the 10 child and parent centres would be one-stop shops for parents and offer health checks, parenting information, learning programs and play groups.

"They don't have to go to one place for speech therapy, somewhere else for a child health nurse, somewhere else for some other information," Dr Constable said.

"This is about giving all children a fair start in life and removing barriers to success and wellbeing."
But the opposition's early-childhood spokeswoman Sue Ellery said four of the 10 centres announced last week were already in operation, including centres in Armadale and Girrawheen.

"Fifteen months after the premier made his announcement about opening one-stop parenting shops he has only managed to announce six additional facilities for children across the entire state. He hasn't opened anything."

Ellery said the Premier was trying to play catch up with Labor's comprehensive plan for early childhood.

She said WA was 151 child health nurses short and that meant children were not receiving the vital health checks they needed.

"This announcement does not fix this problem."

Barnett said the shortage of child health nurses would be addressed in his government's budget in May.

For more in depth coverage, see May issue of Nursing Review online next week.


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