Call for school program funding
GYMPIE region children will miss out on vital life experiences if the Federal Government doesn’t fund an after school program, Federal Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss has said.
Mr Truss is calling on the Rudd Labor Government to restore funding for the Active After-school Communities Program.
“The Active After-school Communities Program provides children with an opportunity to experience different activities and sports by promoting recreation in a safe, supervised environment at the end of the school day,” Mr Truss said.
“Children gain skills that improve their confidence and fitness by engaging in activities in a friendly, social environment. The program also teaches children about nutritional eating and the importance of exercise in order to maintain overall health.”
The program has been a feature of after school sport and team playing activities since June 2004 when the former Coalition Government, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport, introduced the Active Australia Package, which included the Active After-school Communities Program.
Under the program, funding is provided for regional co-ordinators, grants, teacher staff supervision, as well as venue hire, equipment and transport costs.
“There are over 150,000 students involved in this after school activities program across 3250 programs, in schools right across Australia.”
Mr Truss said axing the funding was an extraordinarily short sighted slash to the budget. “I have seen the success of this program in Wide Bay and how children enjoy participating in the activities. It will be very disappointing if the Rudd Labor Government closes the program.
“The Government will save $40 million a year by removing this program to pay for its debt and wasteful spending. But what value can you put on the health of Australian children?
“The money wasted on overpriced school halls could have funded this program for more than 100 years.
“The Rudd Government acknowledges the obesity epidemic amongst children and it has acknowledged the problem of children with no where to go after school. It also should acknowledge its responsibility for encouraging active participation of children in health activities.
“This program is tried and tested. It had been embedded in schools for many years. It has made a real difference, and without such a program parents, children and schools are concerned there will be no alternative,” Mr Truss said.