Charlton families have been left in the lurch with the Buloke Shire’s exclusion from the Federal Government’s Community Child Care Fund (CCF).
Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, has written to Early Childhood Education Minister, Anne Aly, urging her to intervene in Charlton’s Child Care Desert.
“The CCCF was established by the Coalition Government with the purpose of addressing the issue of Childcare Deserts, ensuring that families in regional areas have access to the vital support they need so that parents who want to can get back to work,” Dr. Webster said.
“As with all other services, childcare is in short supply in regional communities. This means parents who could be working, in the healthcare system as nurses for instance, are prevented from doing so for want of adequate childcare. This is a perverse situation when you consider how badly nurses – among a range of other professions across many sectors – are needed in the regions.”
Construction of a Long Daycare Centre, funded by the State Government, was finished in June 2021, but since then a provider has been unable to be found.
The lack of access to the CCCF has been cited as a reason.
A kindergarten room opened in the same building but only offers part-time hours.
“What exacerbates this issue is the absence of alternative childcare options nearby,” Dr. Webster said.
“The next closest childcare facility is a 120-kilometre daily round trip – a journey that is simply unfeasible for parents living in Charlton. As a result, these parents find themselves in a deeply distressing situation where they are unable to return to work due to the lack of accessible and affordable Child Care services.
“Labor’s policies on Child Care have focussed on subsidy over service, which has not helped the many regional towns which do not have access to Child Care.
“I implore the Minister Aly to act on the glaring inequity faced by the parents of Charlton and other regional towns in Mallee like Donald, Horsham and Nhill, and take swift action to rectify this situation,” Dr. Webster said.
“Families, regardless of where they live, ought to have equal access to quality childcare services so they can contribute to the desperate workforce shortfalls across the nation, especially in regional towns.”