State Minister checks in on Cobar Mobile’s local services

Cobar Mobile Children’s Services staff Bridget Brookman and Tammy McKay welcomed Minister for Early Childhood Education, Sarah Mitchell and Nationals Candidate for Barwon Andrew Schier to the centre on Monday to discuss how the NSW Government’s Start Strong Pathways funding will be spent.

Cobar Mobile Children’s Service (CMCS) is set to receive $437,000 in the next two years to support the delivery of playgroup services for children aged 0-3.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell was in Cobar on Monday afternoon along with Nationals Candidate for Barwon Andrew Schier to hear first hand how the new funding is planned to be spent.

Minister Mitchell said the Government was committed to supporting not-for-profit community organisations that help families access early childhood services.

“Children don’t begin learning at three or four. Playgroups like the service offered by the Cobar Mobile Children’s Service provide stimulating and safe environments for little minds from birth,” Ms Mitchell said.

“As a mum I know that parents also benefit from forming bonds with other parents and sharing their collective experiences through groups such as this one.”

CMCS staff members Bridget Brookman and Tammy McKay have welcomed the new funding that will see the service have a greater focus on younger children in their service area.

“We’ll get more of those families with 0-3s when they know we’ve got a playgroup that’s focused on that age group whereas when they’ve known before that it’s 3-5 years they’ve sort of sat back a bit more,” Bridget told the Minister.

Bridget and Tammy outlined how the service is helping a new mum they had recently visited. Bridget said the family lived about 70km from town and the woman was reasonably new to the area. She had a new baby and didn’t have the support of any other young mums living around her.

Bridget said she was very grateful for their visit and for the ongoing services they could provide her with.

Tammy said when they visit farms to conduct regular playgroups they can have up to 15-20 children attending or sometimes just two children.

“There’s lots of dads now getting involved, it used to be just mum or the governess.

“With the drought it seems that everyone needs that release,” Tammy said.

“Sometimes the social benefits of mobile preschool programs aren’t given enough credit for what they actually do to get people together and to keep an eye on everyone.

“I’ve heard good things about you before, so it’s good to meet you in person,” the Minister said.

CMCS is still looking at other options for funding to once again include 4-12 year olds in their bush visits.

The Minister said funding for that age group did not fall in the Early Childhood Education Start Strong Pathways program and suggested they would need to look at what’s in the broader education portfolio for other funding.