Skip navigation

90 second statement on the importance of play therapy

18 March, 2024:

The Be Centre in Warriewood, in my electorate of Mackellar, is one of the largest specialist play-therapy centres in the world. We are very fortunate to have it as it is leading the way when it comes to supporting young children's mental health in Australia. The Be Centre is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in early intervention for children impacted by trauma. Uniquely, it uses play based therapy, which is a developmentally responsive mental health intervention for children aged three to 12 years. Play therapy is an important intervention which allows children to express and process what they otherwise would not be able to verbalise.

Evidence from the UK and US shows that children who undergo play therapy benefit from greater self-awareness, greater self-regulation and improvements in social behaviour. They also have reductions in emotional distress and hyperactivity. Importantly, it is a treatment that can prevent trauma or mental distress in children from becoming chronic. With 50 per cent of all mental illness beginning by the age of 14, early intervention is critical, but, currently, play based therapy cannot be accessed under Medicare in Australia. Prevention is always better than cure, which is why in my 2024 budget submission I've advocated for the federal government to extend the Better Access mental health-care initiative to include child centred play therapy.