Childcare closures in rural communities
Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan is disappointed at the announcement of the closure of five childcare centres in small rural communities in the electorate.
The Albury Wodonga Early Years Childhood Service will close centres at Mitta, Walwa, Kergunyah, Baranduda and Bellbridge in North East Victoria, as well as Henty and Walla in NSW.
Ms McGowan has received phone calls and emails from parents and staff concerned about the closure of the centres and the loss of 20 to 25 jobs. Ms McGowan said the closures impact on whole communities including the viability of the small rural schools which benefit from sustainable rural childcare for farming families.
Ms McGowan will seek an urgent meeting this week with the Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan when Parliament returns to Canberra.
Since 2016, Ms McGowan has focused on the sustainability of small rural childcare centres ahead of the introduction on July 1 this year of the Federal Government’s new childcare subsidy funding model.
“In February 2017 I proposed amendments to the government’s Omnibus Bill to ensure these childcare services would not be adversely impacted by the government’s reforms,” Ms McGowan said.
“The government sought to ‘transition’ these services across Australia. Community childcare operators had indicated that without certainty of funding, they would not be able to continue and would be forced to close services. Sadly, these fears have been realised with this announcement in Indi.
“My amendments last year were constructive, practical and simple. They asked the government to commit in its legislation to monitoring and reporting on the impact of the reforms on these services.
“At the time it was incredibly disappointing and inexplicable that the coalition, including 14 Nationals MPs in regional electorates, voted against those amendments.
“These mobile services have provided a really good model of childcare for rural families. To lose these services is devastating and impacts on regional productivity. The participation in the workforce by women in rural and regional Australia depends on sustainable and suitable childcare. Often this means a need for mobile childcare services based in small rural centres.”