Government must take immediate action on childcare closures
Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has called for immediate action by the Government in response to this week’s closure of five childcare centres in small rural communities in the electorate.
The Albury Wodonga Early Years Childcare 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 said the closures are indicative of a significant failure of Government policy in meeting the needs of rural communities to maintain access to these services.
Today’s discussions, chaired by Craig Laundy MP on behalf of Minister for Education the Hon Dan Tehan MP, have been focused on providing an interim solution to allow the centres to re-open in January 2019.
“Mr Laundy, Minister Tehan’s staff and Department staff have clearly heard the message from our communities about the need for urgent action,” Ms McGowan said.
“There has been a commitment to get back in touch with us by the end of this week with those interim arrangements.”
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.
“I have taken a huge amount of action on this issue over the past two years. I understand the problem and in February 2017 I proposed amendments to the government’s Bill to ensure these childcare services would not be adversely impacted by the government’s reforms,” Ms McGowan said.
“It was incredibly disappointing and inexplicable that the coalition, including 14 Nationals MPs in regional electorates, voted against those amendments.
“On 3 December 2018, I asked the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan for an urgent round table in Wodonga, bringing together parents, providers, staff and local government. Mr Tehan committed to getting interim arrangements in place to ensure services could be provided in 2019.
“I will hold the Government to account on supporting the outcomes of this round table and a similar meeting in southern NSW to ensure these services continue to meet the community’s needs.”