• Loddon Herald

Care for kids

Updated: May 13, 2021

THE LODDON is a family day care black spot.

Young professional mothers are unable to return to work and small businesses owners are struggling to juggle demands of family business.

Some mothers are travelling up to four hours a week to access child care in other towns.

The lack of day care - just four pre-primary daily spots are believed to exist in Wedderburn - means many local families cannot access new assistance measures being offered by the Federal and State Governments.

Wedderburn mothers last week gathered in the town’s park to discuss the crisis and begin the search for a solution.

Supporting them were Wedderburn College principal Danny Forrest and the school’s student wellbeing co-ordinator Kerry Walker.

Wedderburn College has one teacher unable to return from maternity leave because of the lack of family day care and another is working reduced hours.

They are not alone in facing the challenge. While neither government has been able to provide data on family day care places available in the Loddon, a search of a Federal Government care finder website shows none listed.

The local mothers told the Loddon Herald last week that without child care, they were frustrated at being unable to work. Limited work hours for some are only possible when parents travel from Melbourne and interstate or elderly relatives “come out of retirement”.

One is Shirl Postle, a great-grandmother called to care for Marigold, 11 months.

“I love looking looking after the young ones but an 86-year-old can’t go on forever,” she said.

Tammy Martin, who is expecting her second child in August, fears the loss of social interaction for son Ashton, 2½, as she tries to support husband Cameron Steel in their butcher shop. “It’s hard. We have a flexibility that many others do not but it’s really hard,” she said.

“I’m still trying to put in two days a week at the shop but Ashton misses the interaction.”

The Wedderburn mothers believe at least 20 family day care places are needed in the town.

“This is a problem not only for Wedderburn, but Inglewood and every other town in the region,” said Tammy said.

“There are vacant halls that could be used or perhaps linking with schools ... lateral thinking is needed and we can’t put the need for day care places in the too hard basket.”

The mothers believe Loddon towns are experiencing a baby boom with “a lot just starting to establish their families”.

More stories in the special report - pick up a copy of the Loddon Herald or read our online edition.

What do you think. Write to loddonherald@gmail.com

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