Member for Moore Shane Love MLA says a McGowan Government decision to reduce the value of KidSport vouchers and remove some club-based organisations from the program altogether will reduce participation rates of at-risk children and youth.
The cuts have reduced the value of KidSport vouchers from $200 to $150 per child and from 1 July 2018 access to some clubs and organisations, including Scouts WA, will not be available to those with vouchers.
“This decision will impact at least 750 vulnerable youth that access Scouts WA to develop sporting and competitive skills, leadership and enjoy a sense of community involvement,” Mr Love said.
“These groups offer more than one-dimensional competition by encouraging participation in a range of sport and recreation-related activity.
“I fear they will be next on the chopping block as the McGowan Government preys on vulnerable West Australians to fund its extravagant election promises.”
Scout groups in Gingin, Chittering and Toodyay will be affected by the change.
Gingin Scout Group Leader Gloria Hyne said those who made the decision not to allow Kidsport vouchers for Scout fees had no understanding of the value of the program and its effect on young people.
“Scouting should not be available only to the elite families of the community,” she added.
“Competitive sport does not suit every child – the Scouting movement serves an important role encouraging physical activity alongside leadership and community service.
“These changes to the use of Kidsport vouchers will now exclude those children who would otherwise have had the opportunity to participate and potentially benefit most from Scouting.”
Since being introduced by The Nationals WA in 2011, KidSport has helped more than 55,000 children in every part of WA access sport and recreation clubs.
More than 10,000 of those have been Aboriginal participants, 90 per cent of whom have signed up to clubs in regional WA.
It has resulted in a huge increase in club participation, building a sense of belonging, self-esteem and friendship among those joining clubs and meeting new people.
Nationals WA Sport and Recreation spokesman Peter Rundle said reducing voucher values and cutting some organisations from the program would have costly health and social ramifications.
“Active sport and recreation participation is essential for maintaining overall individual and community health and wellbeing,” he said.
“Reducing incentives for families whose children might otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in club-based sport and recreation detracts from healthy, active lifestyles the State Government should be promoting.
“The enormous success of the KidSport program should be met with increased government funding and support to meet demand.
“Unfortunately Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray seems indifferent to the slash and burn tactics employed by his government at the expense of ordinary West Australian families.”