Cost of Living

Published on: May 2022

Record: HANSARD-1323879322-125238

Cost of Living

Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (17:31:40):

Across New South Wales the Government is supporting families. It is addressing cost‑of‑living pressures and ensuring that people are able to spend more quality time with one another across all factors of daily life. It is supporting families in education and health. We are constantly monitoring cost-of-living pressures for individuals and families. We are acutely aware of the impact the pandemic has had on labour supply, the supply chain and cost of living. We know that global and geopolitical challenges are increasing the cost of fuel and increasing inflation. International pressures are having an impact locally in Australia. China's no‑COVID policy continues to affect a whole range of industries and parts of the community.

Members of my electorate also feel the impact of cost‑of‑living challenges, particularly families, which have the expense of sending their kids to child care, early childhood education or school. There is also the cost of sport, which includes training. There is the cost and teaching and learning, and even things like tuition to support kids who were particularly impacted by the pandemic. The Government is doing a couple of things to improve cost‑of‑living challenges for families, including the $500 initiative of before- and after-school care vouchers, which will provide on average 60 free sessions per child in 2022. This $155 million program will help alleviate some of the financial pressures on families and assist in boosting their budgets.

Many young working families in my electorate are happy to see the increase in places for before- and after‑school care, which is creating a significant reduction in waitlists and the voucher program is reducing costs. The $250 Parents NSW vouchers can also be used at similar venues as the Dine & Discover vouchers. They have been a hit amongst businesses in my community. I have also enjoyed using my vouchers at some of our local venues. Getting feedback about the voucher program was an effective way for us to engage and encourage our local small businesses. We received feedback about the effectiveness of the programs throughout the rollout of the earlier voucher schemes and we could take that feedback on board in the design and rollout of the further schemes. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the Mosman Chamber of Commerce and its president, Tamara Keniry. They were tireless in ensuring that businesses in our local community had the support they needed during the past two years. They kicked off the very successful Think Mosman First program, which has encouraged the community and businesses to come together and support one another.

We are supporting families through the popular $100 Active Kids vouchers and $100 Creative Kids vouchers, which help ease families' budgets and help kids with learning new skills. We have many sporting, music and art organisations in my local community aimed at supporting our kids. Many local families have benefited from the use of those vouchers. We have also provided the $100 First Lap vouchers for children aged three to six years, which are aimed at assisting with the cost of swimming lessons. I recognise the member for Holsworthy's work in driving that. Like me, she has very young children, with one in primary school and one in child care, and is working to ensure that all children learn to swim. We know how crucial that is for their safety, particularly for families who have pools or live near the beach or harbour, as in my area, for instance, or close to creeks or rivers.

I used the First Lap voucher to enrol my three-year-old in the swimming program at Wenona in my area, and she has started those Thursday morning classes. I had not thought to initiate that until I had the voucher. It has already changed my behaviour, and I imagine it is changing many other people's as well. When it comes to supporting families, nothing could help more than investing in our schools to make sure that our local kids get the best start in life. Three major upgrades are progressing in my area. At Mosman High School huge demolitions have already occurred and reconstruction work will begin soon. At North Sydney Demonstration School some of the work to demolish some of the old buildings for a major upgrade is underway.

Neutral Bay Public School has had funding approved to progress with a major upgrade. Those upgrades will include new classrooms, state-of-the-art facilities, increased play space and updated amenities for students and staff. We are also providing record investment in health through a range of different initiatives, including funding the upgrade of the Tresillian Family Care Centre in Wollstonecraft. Our strong economy means more and better jobs for families and households, but this Government will always focus on easing cost-of-living pressures.

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