Canterbury Bankstown: child friendly, Australia first initiative
Canterbury Bankstown,a local government area in the south western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, has initiated a one year pilot to support asylum seekers with child care, as part of becoming a UNICEF recognised child friendly city, Mayor Khal Asfour has announced.
The year long pilot program, said to have been developed by Mayor Asfour in conjunction with the Sydney Alliance and the Asylum Seekers Centre, has been designed designed to support both parents and children who are seeking asylum in Australia.
The council, newly formed after a 2016 merger of the City of Canterbury and the City of Bankstown, has a strong focus on working to serve the children who live within its boundaries, and to reflect the cultural diversity of its population. With a population of approximately 346,302, Canterbury Bankstown is the most populous local government area in Sydney.
“Every child has the right to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and secure; have access to basic services; can play, learn and grow; and, where their voice is heard and matters,” Mayor Asfour said, before calling on children, young people, families and community groups in the area to complete a survey outlining their experiences of living as a child or young person in the City of Canterbury Bankstown.
In coming months, council officers will be encouraging parents, children, and related children’s service providers, to participate in the survey. The results will help the council to determine what they can improve or change in the area.
Mayor Asfour said that ensuring children’s overall wellbeing, health, safety, learning, development, leisure and participation were catered for was one of his main priorities as mayor.
The pursuit of a child friendly and accessible city has attracted the attention of asylum seeker advocacy groups in the area, who have reportedly joined with the council to offer an Australian first – free childcare for asylum seekers in council-run centres.