• Loddon Herald

Advocacy role emerges

ADVOCACY for workable child care models in the Loddon is expected to increase within weeks when Loddon Shire Council appoints a special project officer.

Council wellbeing director Wendy Gladman said appointment of the officer was among recommendations in a child care feasibility study business case presented to council last year.

“They (the project officer) will review data in that report that was from the previous 12 months and explore new data, of families moving to the area and babies being born,” she said,

Mrs Gladman last week spoke with Inglewood Development and Tourism Committee as towns across the Loddon search for solutions to the region’s child care crisis.

She said there were possible short-term solutions and other models that would require advocacy to government over a longer term.

“Individual tourism and development committees have a role in raising awareness of local needs, gathering stories on the impacts of a shortage of child care.

“It’s important for individual communities to understand their needs as we try to find child care solutions across the whole region.”

Mrs Gladman said the business case recommended a role for council in advocacy.

She said part of that advocacy could involve raising awareness with local members of Parliament, outlining required services and available spaces for care facilities.

The study suggested advocacy for an additional level of child care funding in rural areas, an incentive model Family Day Care Australia is now taking to federal, state and territory governments.

“Incentives could make it more attractive for providers to establish in the Loddon,” Mrs Gladman said,

She said a dedicated project officer would assist to keep momentum in the push for local solutions.

“And advocacy will progress ideas ... explore models and see if they fit here.”

Mrs Gladman said council’s existing early years’ team had been focused on the expansion of three-year-old kindergarten and COVID responses.

“This (project officer) will keep the momentum happening,” she said.

A working party has been formed in Wedderburn by the local school and families and a petition launched by local MPs Louise Staley and Peter Walsh. The petition calling for government action has already gathered more than 600 signatures and will be tabled in State Parliament.

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