Australia Day Honours: Former MP Barbara Scott honoured for early childhood learning work

Barbara Scott OAM. Picture: Jon Bassett.
Barbara Scott OAM. Picture: Jon Bassett.

SWANBOURNE resident and former State MP Barbara Scott’s career-long advocacy of early childhood learning was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in today’s Australia Day Awards.

Mrs Scott said she was honoured to receive the recognition for her work as a teacher, activist and politician over the years.

“The long-term impact of good early childhood programs is evident in the late teen years – and it’s particularly evident in boys aged 15-18 – when they have to make life choices like careers, education, and work,” she told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

The award is among others given to western suburbs residents, including iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and former State opposition leader Eric Ripper, who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Mrs Scott was a founding member of the Leederville-headquartered Meerilinga Young Children’s Foundation, and was the Community Kindergarten president from 1978 to 1992.

As president of the Friends of Ngala she heads an organisation that provides vital services to parents across WA.

Raised on a farm near Merrredin in the Wheatbelt, Mrs Scott said her good childhood was a model for her four children and an early, stimulating childhood should be provided to all.

While president of the Claremont Kindergarten she became politically active and protested at Parliament against a proposal to take teachers from four-year-olds’ classes.

“I became very outspoken, saying every child in WA should have access to early childhood development,” Mrs Scott said.

A subsequent career as a South Metropolitan MLC from 1993 to 2009 included shadow portfolios in education and women’s interests, culture and the arts – but only after the youngest of her children had reached Year 11.

Mrs Scott said she was proud of writing the Liberal Party’s policies for expanding kindergarten and early childhood education.

“That was a great achievement, in that I got a place for every child for two years in non-compulsory education with trained teachers,” Mrs Scott said.

Her private member’s bill in 2006 was the first to request the mandatory reporting of child abuse, and her work continues as the first Office of Children and Young People ambassador.

Mrs Scott is also patron of the May Gibbs Foundation and Coolbellup’s Pineview Kindergarten.

Full list of western suburbs winners:

– Prof Makhan Singh Khangure (AM), Nedlands.

– John Cunningham (OAM), Peppermint Grove .

– Prof Alan Bittles (AM).

– Dr David Hough (OAM), Wembley Downs.

– Prof Leon Flicker (AO), Floreat.

– Rev John Shepherd (AM), Nedlands.

– Sandra Gorringe (OAM), Cottesloe.