Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — I rise to commend the Andrews Labor government on the overwhelming success of the school breakfast clubs program in Victoria. This program was introduced by the Andrews Labor government in the 2015–16 state budget and has since served more than 2 million meals across Victoria.

Breakfast, as we all know, is the most important meal of the day. Our children need it to perform at their best. In Victoria we know that one in seven children goes to school with an empty stomach. This inhibits their ability to concentrate, learn and thrive. This issue is particularly prevalent in areas of high socio‑economic disadvantage, which are areas where the relationships between parents, schools and communities are sometimes fractured.

This program has gone a long way in rectifying this issue. Fifty thousand breakfasts are served every week in 500 of Victoria’s most disadvantaged schools. Students are now getting the energy they need to achieve their goals. Teachers have been reporting improved concentration, increased attendance and stronger bonds with their students. This allows teachers to get on with the important job of educating our kids. In my own electorate of Western Metropolitan Region over 60 schools have adopted this initiative. Schools like Taylors Lakes Primary School and Werribee Primary School are now seeing better outcomes and better results in the classroom.

This is just another perfect example of how this Labor government is fighting disadvantage in our community. Unlike those opposite, we will always look to give a helping hand to those who need it — because we believe that children, no matter their postcode, should be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential. I commend the overwhelming success of this program and thank this government for its excellent work in nurturing our youth.

7 June 2017