• Loddon Herald

Child care: what the candidates say

Child care is a major issue in the Loddon - communities are a care desert.

This is what candidates for Mallee in the federal election said in response to Loddon Herald questions



SOPHIE BALDWIN (IND)

Loddon residents have as much right to access a day care facility as any other shire across Mallee. Families are disadvantaged and so are Loddon towns because without a daycare facility and no reliable care, people cannot return to work. Families settle in other towns and it is too difficult to attract people to Loddon and it becomes a ghost shire.

I have met with Loddon Shire to be personally updated on day care and other issues affecting the shire. I have also met with the principal of Wedderburn College Danny Forrest to discuss the issue of daycare and tour the proposed daycare site on the school grounds. Wedderburn College is more than just a school, it is a safe place for many of the children who attend and if Danny can’t attract teachers to his school because there is no day care within the shire, how can he continue to support his students and remain the safe place so desperately needed?

As a federal member I will have influence. Loddon Shire has a desperate need for day care, it has a plan, a site and it is ready to go in Wedderburn and considering there is not one single facility across the shire it should be a top funding priority. The home-based model of child care is also a viable option that must be investigated and adapted to better suit rural communities.

Loddon has got to the point where it is so behind other shires it demands special assistance just to get started.

Co-location is not only a great idea, it makes sense geographically and helps families who have both day care and school aged children by offering services in one spot. It also helps with transition, allows for sharing of resources

STUART KING (UAP)

It is not right that Loddon families and businesses are disadvantaged by the lack of local child care and unfortunately this problem is not unique to the Loddon Shire or region. Lack of available child care is an issue across many parts of the electorate.

I approached the Loddon Shire, as I did with every local government council across the electorate, requesting a meeting during the campaign to hear directly from council about the major issues affecting their Council, however no meeting was forthcoming.

I will support government action to address child care across the electorate including Loddon. I hesitate with the word “immediate” as it builds an expectation that something can happen instantly, but I would certainly prioritise it as I fully understand it is a major issue.

I don’t fully understand how the model for child care funding works, however where the Federal Government has a role I would support improving its funding of child care for Loddon and the rest of the electorate. Whilst we are in the current situation of having a lack of workforce it is crucial that parents be given the maximum opportunity to participate in employment and I am aware that availability of child care is one of the barriers. If special assistance is required to kick start child care businesses I see that as something worth pursuing.

Co-location of these facilities simply makes sense on many fronts, including potential to share facilities, simplicity for parents in creating a “one stop drop off” and familiarisation of children with the school environment. This methodology has worked in many other locations with great success.

ANNE WEBSTER (NATIONALS)

Access to child care can directly impact young parent’s household income, but also is the difference for many to be able to pursue their career ambitions. I want to see the disadvantage removed, however it’s clear that in a large and sparse country, there isn’t one quick solution. I am working hard to ensure that we are being active to use every tool in the toolbox to rectify this issue for regional Australians.

Community members from Wedderburn and Pyramid Hill have spoken to me about their need for child care.

I am already working hard in this space to ensure that this lack is addressed. Our government has already invested more than $540 million over four years through the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF), which supports over 900 services in disadvantaged communities to help children participate in childcare. A further $19.4 million has been announced in the budget specifically for regional communities. This competitive round will open in July, but targets towns where there is no child care.

I fought for childcare access for Mallee’s regional towns where there is none, and the new CCCF regional funding is the response of the government to this. I encourage community members to work with the Loddon Council and apply when the grant opens. If I am theMMember at that time, I would be happy to support the submission with a letter.

I think the co-location option is the best option for smaller towns and makes perfect sense. It provides efficiency for parents dropping of children for school, kinder and childcare.

CHRIS LAHY (CITIZENS’ PARTY)

It is certainly not okay for Loddon families and businesses to disadvantaged by the lack of local child care. This is a shameful inequity that many regional local government areas should not have to put up with.

I am well aware that there are no child care places in the Loddon and I spoken with the Loddon Shire about this in the past as well as personally knowing families who are in a situation needing child care and I would support any initiatives to remedy this situation.

I absolutely support government assistance to encourage child care businesses to operate in the Loddon But what we have here is a symptom of decades of neglect, reduction of services and the general lowering of the standard of living.

Consequently any profit based service provider is not willing to run a business in these conditions and local government authorities like the Loddon Shire have not the funds to provide these services also.

The solution to this a Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank and a National infrastructure Bank( points 1 and 2 ACP policy platform) from which LGAs can borrow to fund these types of infrastructure projects.

Certainly I would support co-location if the facility is fit for purpose and or it needs capital investment for improvements on existing infrastructure or replacement this can be funded in the same way with a Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank and a National Infrastructure Bank.

ALL CANDIDATE RESPONSES RECEIVED BY THE LODDON HERALD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED




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