• Loddon Herald

Care petition launches

THE CAMPAIGN for child care facilities across the Loddon has stepped up a notch.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting on Sunday where Ripon MP Louise Staley launched a petition calling on the State Government to act on the crisis.

The petition, a joint initiative of Ms Staley and Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh, comes as Loddon families experience a lack of child care options in the region,

Families across the Loddon, including Serpentine, Inglewood, Pyramid Hill, Boort and Wedderburn, have spoken out about the dire shortage of child care in the Loddon over recent weeks and the impact on local schools, businesses and families.

Investigations by the Loddon Herald reveal there are no vacancies in the region with limited places already full.

Sunday’s meeting at Wedderburn College was attended by grandparents, parents, parents and their children.

College principal Danny Forrest said: “The situation across all these communities should not be like this.

““We’re pushing for solutions right across the region,” he said.

“We have to maintain awareness of the challenges faced by all young families in all towns across the region. And it has to be at the top of the agenda.

Ms Staley said: “As a society we invest in educating and training young people for jobs. But that also means we need to be investing in child care so young mothers can work.”

She said there had been significant government failure in thinking about how rural women with young children could continue their careers and what care was provided in country communities.

Ms Staley said innovative solutions were needed.

“Local communities would not be in this situation if the current model worked.

“It doesn’t work in a lot of small communities,” she said.

During the meeting, Ms Staley advocated for co-location of child minding, child care and other children’s services.

“One example is Charlton where the model was redeveloped to share places between three different areas ... care not every day but some days. It’s not perfect but it’s better,” she said.

“It gets women back into the workforce. The full solution will take time. It won’t happen in a few weeks or months but we will have one,” Ms Staley told the meeting.

A working committee has been formed under the banner Keep Families Local following talks across the region with other stakeholders.

Options being explored include co-location of an early years hub on land at existing State Government facilities, including Wedderburn College.

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