The NSW Government has announced greater support for young children, pre-school.
The NSW Government has announced greater support for young children, pre-school. Trevor Veale

Every child deserves a Strong Start in life

IT SHOULD not matter if you are from Sawtell or Seaforth; every child deserves to have access to quality education in the year before school.

The earlier we can provide educational support and invest in the lives of our next generation the better - and I am proud the NSW government are backing country kids.

Every child in the Coffs Harbour electorate should have access to affordable quality education in the year before school and our Start Strong reforms do exactly that.

I am proud this year's budget invests an additional $217 million to extend Start Strong until 2021 - and to ensure this increase in funding has a real impact upon service affordability; community preschool services must pass on at least 75 per cent of the increased funding to parents as a fee reduction.

For example, before our historic investment in early childhood education, at one preschool in regional NSW - it cost families $15 a day for a child to attend and now it is $5 a day. For disadvantaged children it is now $4 dollars a day.

We know the biggest indicator of how a child will finish their school career is how they start it. We also know two days a week of quality early childhood education in the year before school can make a big difference between a child flourishing or struggling in the first year of school - this is even more important for children growing up in areas of regional NSW, like Coffs Harbour.

We also know some community preschools in Coffs Harbour have long waiting lists and that is why we have opened up the $10 million capital works grants to build additional rooms or purchase vehicles for mobile services so they can increase the number of places available.

The additional investment, announced in this year's budget, gives families and preschools in Coffs Harbour certainty - because our kids deserve it and our families expect it.

Sarah Mitchell MLC


The Smith Family's winter appeal will help to change the fortunes of disadvantaged low income earning Australian children.
The Smith Family's winter appeal will help to change the fortunes of disadvantaged low income earning Australian children.

Your support has made a difference

I am writing to express my sincere appreciation to everyone in New South Wales who gave generously to The Smith Family's 2017 Winter Appeal. This year we had exceptional support from the Australian public, raising over $4.6 million nationally to help thousands of disadvantaged children across the country with their education.

For the 1.1 million young Australians living below the poverty line, staying engaged at school and keeping up with their peers can be extremely challenging. Without educational support and extra resources, they may never reach their potential and are more likely to experience hardship as adults.

Funds raised from our Winter Appeal will help nearly 11,000 disadvantaged Australian children with the extra learning support they need, through our reading programs, after-school Learning Clubs and the iTrack online mentoring program.

It is heartening that this cause has resonated with so many people who gave to our Appeal, which not only helps the children who access our programs but their families and communities.

I would like to thank each and every individual who made a donation. Your help will have a direct, lasting impact on disadvantaged children here in Australia, giving them the best chance possible to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for themselves.

Steve Macready, The Smith Family


What will become of Australia's offshore processing of asylum seekers?
What will become of Australia's offshore processing of asylum seekers? AAP



Neither policy deters refugees

FROM 2000 until 2013, the refugee policy we had to discourage boat people coming here was the Pacific Solution.

This was introduced by Howard and continued by Labor.

In 2013, the Coalition replaced it with turn back.

Both policies have our Navy patrolling the Indo/Oz border, intercepting boats carrying Iraqi, Afghan etc refugees coming from Indo.

In the Pacific solution, the Navy picks up refugees and takes them to detention camps on the 'Pacific' islands of Manus and Nauru to have their claims for asylum heard. In turn back, the Navy doesn't pick up the refugees, it sends them back to Indo where they are dumped into detention camps to wait for their claims for asylum to be heard.

It's clear that, apart from the location of the detention camps, the two policies are identical Both fail to discourage boat people from coming here.

It's not surprising, therefore, that they fail for the same reasons.

The first bundle of reasons is to do with the UN Convention on Refugees. It says that once refugees enter Australian waters, they can claim asylum in Australia.

It also says that Australia is obligated to hear these claims for asylum. Refugees know that 90/95% of those who have had their claims heard have been settled in Australia.

These three reasons combine to strongly encourage refugees to jump onto boats to head for the border and for Australian waters.

The second bundle of reasons why the Pacific solution and turn back fail to discourage refugees relates to what the refugees do when they get near the border.

The refugee boats lack the navigational gear to pinpoint the border. But the Navy has this gear and they use it to ensure they stay on their side of the border.

All the refugees have to do is to see a Navy vessel in the distance and go to it. The Navy is powerless to stop them entering our waters!

Both policies fail to deter refugees from coming here because there is more to encourage them, namely the Convention's laws and the ease of getting into our waters, than to discourage them, namely the lengthy time they spend in camps being brutally treated!

Dr Michael Blockey, Scotts Head  

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