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News Opinion/Commentary

Children left hungry in childcare centres

Young children sitting down at a fable eating friit from lunchboxes
Image: iStock

This is infuriating.

According to Herald Sun, some childcare centres spend A65c on food per child. The food is often low in nutritional value. 

Some childcare coordinators and cooks admitted that they never spent more than A$5.00 of food a day. Some spent as little as A$2.15. That includes snacks. 

A Newscorp investigation revealed food offered children included: bread and butter and packet pasta. None of the food had any protein. 

In a United Workers Union survey, 2o% of directors and cooks thought the food budget wasn’t enough. 60% of respondents even bought food for the children out of their own pocket. 

In a private Facebook group, a commenter fumed:

I feed my dog more a a day than the budget I get. If parents knew they’d be appalled.

Dietitian from University of Queensland, Bonnie Searle witnessed children asking for seconds, but the food had run out. 

Searle also saw deceptive menus. Menus would advertise “gourmet sandwiches”, only for children to be offered Vegemite or jam sandwiches. 

Sometimes, childcare providers gave children fruit that had become brown and slimy.

Searle condemned centres for lack of nutrition:

A big plate of fruit is not going to keep children full. They need some fat and protein. The food groups we did not see enough of were vegetables and meat. 

Children who don’t get enough food or the right nutrition ran the risk of not being able to regulate their emotions or concentrate. 

Could this be contributing to rise in in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses?  Now, I do believe this is a genuine disorder, but it does make you wonder.

Why don’t parents just pack children food?

When I was reading about this, some people asked why can’t parents just pack their children food? Well, apparently, many centres don’t allow it for fears of allergic reactions. 

If this is the case, then everyone is in a no – win situation. 

It’s not good enough.

End private childcare and have it properly funded

People have told me a lack of food in childcare is neither surprising or uncommon. Coordinators of private childcare centres put profits over the well – being of children. 

If this is the case, there is one solution. The government has to fund childcare 100%. No more private providers. They obviously can’t be regulated properly. This goes for the aged care sector as well. 

When people bring this up, protesters complain and ask why should they pay for other people’s children? So what if you don’t have children? Do you have nieces? Nephews? Children of friends who call you their cool “aunt” or “uncle”?

I don’t have children. Most adults, including myself want to see children thrive. Children need a healthy environment, including healthy food. 

The National Quality Standard

In 2010, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) introduced the National Quality Standard. These were very strict and very detailed.

Since the Liberal National/ Coalition Party has been in power, these standards have been watered down. While Standard 2.1 covers a “healthy lifestyle”, there is no specific demand that a childcare provider must provided healthy food or water, like it did when the Australian Labor Party were in power. 

Maybe they should at least bring that standard back. And hold ALL centres to that standard. Children deserve it. 

 

What do you think about childcare? What improvements should be made? Do you think they should all be government run? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Categories
Culture Social media

Using social media and blogging for change: Influencer advocates for people with a disability

Image: Canva

Want a light – hearted story?

Peta Hooke is a social media influencer.

People may look at the terms ‘social media influencer’ and have certain ideas. Chances are, Peta Hooke doesn’t fit those ideas.

She has cerebral palsy and uses a an electric wheelchair.

Hooke uses Instagram to advocate for people with disabilities.

At first, Hooke was hesitant. She told ABC Life that she feared that Instagram wasn’t a safe place for people with disabilities.

I remember when Instagram became a thing in my friendship group in the summer of 2011. At the time, Instagram didn’t feel like a safe space for someone like me.

Hooke worried that Instagram was just another platform for the privileged.

Hooke joined Instagram

Hooke ended up joining Instagram. She created a heavily private account and she admired attractive influencers.

She then started a podcast and used Instagram to promote her advocacy.

She said utilising Instagram made her “sick with dread”.

Despite her fears, no one laughed at Hooke. In fact, she has built up a supportive community of followers.

Using social media for advocacy

Since building a following, Hooke has used her daily life and content to educate and change minds. She also aims to expand what people define as having a disability.

She wants to inspire people with disabilities:

I hope through my presence on Instagram I am implicitly encouraging other disabled people to find the same power.

People with disabilities need visibility. And chances

Black woman in wheelchair on a footpath down the street
Image: iStock

When I first read about Peta Hooke, I thought it was great. People with disabilities: physical, intellectual or mental need a chance.

They need chances to live and to work, just like anyone else. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are over represented in unemployment statistics.

Having people with disabilities visible and mainstream is important. People need to realise that people with disabilities are just people. They may need a little help or slight adjustments. They can be a baser to society when given the chance.

Challenging beauty standards and influencer culture

It’s great that Hooke uses her platform to challenge beauty standards and influencer culture. People are becoming more and more aware of the damage social media can do. For years, people have worried about teens and influencer culture’s impact on their self – esteem and mental health.

Creator and former Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even admitted that platforms like Instagram were made to be addictive. Algorithms are deliberately programmed in a way to make certain images popular.

A call to able – bodied people

Anyone can be a part of the change. For those in privileged positions, please consider supporting content creators from marginalised communities.

Like, share and follow their content. Show other people the talents and abilities of people with disabilities. And for those who do support content creators with disabilities (including my followers), thank you very much.

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