The role of playgroups in supporting children’s development and building strong families and communities is being highlighted for the first time in a national Playgroup Statement.
Succinct and evidence-based, the Playgroup Statement explains the value of playgroups for children, families and communities, and issues a call to action for greater resourcing and more research.
‘Playgroups are undervalued as an element of Australia’s social infrastructure’, said Playgroup Australia CEO Dr Amanda Walsh. ‘Most people have an idea of what playgroups are, but we often fail to see their scale and impact.’
‘There are thousands of playgroups operating in every state and territory of Australia, including groups designed to support children with additional needs and their families,’ Dr Walsh said.
‘Every playgroup is unique, but they all provide incredibly important services: play-based learning and social-emotional development for children; social support for parents and carers; and connections that build communities.’
Playgroup organisations worked closely with researchers at Australian Catholic University (ACU), and with other early childhood and family support organisations, to develop the Statement.
‘I particularly want to thank the Co-Chairs of this project, Professor Susan Edwards and Associate Professor Karen McLean from ACU, and the National Advisory Core Group, led by Danny Schwarz (Playgroup Victoria CEO) and David Zarb (Playgroup WA CEO).
‘We want the Playgroup Statement to kickstart a national conversation on how we ensure that all children and families, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, can benefit from playgroup.’
ACU Associate Professor Karen McLean said the Playgroup Statement represented the views of key stakeholders and outlined the benefits of playgroups, as well as the importance of improved accessibility and further research.
‘We are thrilled the undisputed importance of playgroups as a fun and effective way for children and their families to enhance their social skills, educational and economic opportunities, support networks and physical and mental health is being acknowledged,’ she said.
Download the Playgroup Statement here.
The Playgroup Statement was developed with expert input from the following:
Australian Catholic University (Professor Susan Edwards and Associate Professor Karen McLean)
National Advisory Core Group
National Advisory Group
Brotherhood of St Laurence
Centre for Child & Family Studies, Queensland University of Technology
Children and Young People with Disability Australia
Citron Early Childhood Consultancy
Department of Education (NSW)
Early Childhood Australia
Maternal Child and Family Health Nurses Australia Inc.
Dr Sue Packer AM
Public Advocate and Children and Young People Commissioner (ACT)
Raising Children Network, Parenting Research Centre
Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Save the Children Australia
SNAICC – National Voice for our Children
Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW
Telethon Kids Institute
Play Matters Australia