Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has spoken passionately about her commitment to making sure rural and regional families are “front and centre” in childcare policy, after proposing amendments to the government’s Omnibus Bill in Parliament on Monday.
Ms McGowan has been lobbying for the government to provide assurances that mobile childcare services will not be adversely impacted by childcare reforms included in the Bill.
The amendments include a requirement to publish guidelines as to how funding will be allocated from the Community Childcare Fund and to detail the impact of the reforms on rural and regional communities.
“Despite months of meetings, correspondence, questions in Parliament and even a Ministerial visit to Indi, the government confirmed last week that mobile childcare services would have to bid for grants for funding during a ‘transition’ period,” Ms McGowan said.
“There's nothing to transition to. There are no other services in these towns. If there are no mobile childcare services, there's nowhere to go,” Ms McGowan told Parliament.
“Why should rural and regional Australia have to apply for a grant and special conditions when we have as legitimate needs for child care as everybody else?”
Ms McGowan said rural and regional Australia was not an add-on to be treated as a disadvantaged demographic.
“Farming families are mainstream parts of this country, working really hard to produce the commodities that make this country flourish. They deserve to have their needs front and centre of this legislation. Sadly they do not.”
Ms McGowan praised the Albury Wodonga Early Years Childhood service, which has been running for 20 years and employs 50 qualified staff..
“My commitment is that we are not going to let it go. We have a really good model, and we will continue to work with the government to make sure that in the long term we find a system that actually works for us, a system that acknowledges how important our children are.
“This fight has really just begun, and I am not going to let it go.”