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NSW Governor Margaret Beazley visits Learning Links in support of children with learning difficulties and disabilities

On Friday 25 October, Learning Links Peakhurst proudly received a visit from Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of New South Wales, to showcase the work being done to support children with learning difficulties in the St George region.

The Governor is deeply committed to education and social justice, so the event highlighted the many educational and long-term challenges faced by children with learning difficulties and disabilities. Having grown up locally in Hurstville, it also provided an opportunity for the Governor to share in recent local successes, including the establishment and growth of Learning Links’ Prep 4 Preschool supported playgroup program for disadvantaged communities and the ‘Excellent’ rating being awarded to Learning Links Preschool – the top accolade from the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

The event was attended by distinguished guests and supporters from local clubs and by prominent local politicians who support Learning Links’ educational mission. This included The Hon David Coleman MP, Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs and Member for Banks, Mark Coure MP, Local Member for Oatley, Cr Kevin Greene, Mayor of Georges River Council and Morris Iemma, former Premier of NSW.

“Having grown up as one of five in a working-class family, education, and reading, was so important for us. My mother read to us all the time,” said the Governor. “Education and the way we talk about it has changed, but it’s still education and the different personal experiences is what I’m passionate about. To be in this position now, so exposed to what is going on in education, is a privilege. Thank you for having me at Learning Links and sharing the great work you are doing.”

Learning Links CEO, Birgitte Maibom, said, “We are incredibly grateful to host the Governor and such an esteemed group of representatives from local, state and federal government, clubs, the business community and our families to celebrate the work being done locally to empower the children who struggle to learn.”

“We know what education can do, and we know what a lack of education can undo when a child doesn’t have adequate access to it. Like the Governor, we too are dedicated to the equal rights of children and the incredible gift that education is. Her visit has inspired us to continue to work closely with children and to find some good, collaborative solutions to help overcome some of the barriers that are often faced in this sector,” said Ms Maibom.

Learning Links has been providing support for children with learning difficulties and their families for over 47 years. The organisation now supports close to 4000 children, works in partnership with over 300 schools and communities, and provides professional development opportunities for over 600 teachers and early childhood educators each year. Learning Links Preschool has been operating for 30 years and offers an inclusive learning environment for 80 children each year, embracing all abilities, backgrounds, languages and cultures.

“What we see in the St George region is a truly local and collaborative approach to helping children, during early childhood and throughout their school years. This is achieved through strong community partnerships with families, schools, professionals, service providers, clubs, businesses and government. It allows us to identify where the need is, effectively fund evidence-based programs and ensure the children we work with are achieving the outcomes to reach their learning potential,” said Learning Links CEO, Birgitte Maibom.

In Australia, up to 15% of children are affected by learning difficulties and disabilities [1]. Without the right interventions, these children can struggle with a number of short and long-term issues including disengagement with learning, negative behaviours, depression, low self-esteem and unemployment. Those who don’t acquire the necessary skills at an early age can fall further behind at school, widening the gap between them and their peers [2].

 Learning Links is a not-for-profit charitable organisation established in 1972 by parents concerned about the lack of appropriate education and support services for children with learning difficulties. Learning Links works with these children, their families and schools offering tailored programs and services to improve the children’s learning, wellbeing and participation to help them reach their full potential.

 

[1] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. (DSM-5) American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association Publishing. 2013.

[2] Gap caused by the Matthew effect, Stanovich, 1986