The Baillieu Government are set to cut funding to a playgroup in Darebin, which will leave vulnerable families in the area without crucial support, Shadow Minister for Children and Young Adults, Jenny Mikakos said. 

“The Government has refused to guarantee funding for the Supported Playgroup and Parents Initiative, which funds playgroups in Darebin and is set to run out of funding in June this year,” Ms Mikakos said.

 “This is despite this type of program having been identified by the recent child protection inquiry as a key part of supporting vulnerable families across Victoria.

 “The Government can’t be taken seriously about tackling child welfare issues if it cuts programs that are designed to improve parenting skills, provide structured activities and community connectedness for at-risk families.

 “If the Government doesn’t renew funding for the Supported Playgroup and Parents Initiative, the playgroup in Darebin will be forced to shut down, and the dozens of families who participate will lose a vital service.”

 Ms Mikakos said the report recommended an increase in funding to community playgroups particularly in areas with high concentration of vulnerable children and families.

 “For Mr Baillieu to walk away from funding the Supported Playgroup and Parents Initiative following this recommendation demonstrates that Mr Baillieu is more interested in saving money than helping vulnerable families,” Ms Mikakos said.

 Visiting the ‘Our Time’ supported playgroup in Reservoir, Ms Mikakos said playgroups are a vital platform for children 0-3 years of age and their families.

 “Vulnerable families rely on the support they receive through programs like the ‘Our Time’ supported playgroup,” she said.

 “It defies logic that Mr Baillieu would ignore the expert advice he commissioned to save a few dollars.

 “Far from addressing the issues with the child protection system, Mr Baillieu seems intent on making them worse,” Ms Mikakos said.

 This week, Victoria is celebrating National Playgroup Week. There are over 25,000 families and 40,000 children each week who attend playgroups in Victoria.

 “Playgroups are the quiet achiever in our community. They prepare children for success in kindergarten and provide the very foundations for their success in schools.

 “By cutting funding for the Supported Playgroup and Parents Initiative, the Baillieu Government is taking away support from those who need it most.”