• Loddon Herald

Funding push for care

THE signatures of hundreds of Loddon residents are being tabled in State Parliament calling for government action on the region’s child care crisis.

The presentation of petitions by Ripon MP Louise Staley comes as Wedderburn College principal Danny Forrest is preparing a funding submission to the State Government for a new care program in the town.

Ms Staley launched the petition at a public meeting in May after young mothers, business owners and schools spoke out on the impact the lack of child care was having on the local economy and career development.

That meeting was attended by more than 100 parents, grandparents and their children and the community working group has since collected what Mr Forrest says are compelling impact statements.

Ms Staley has read the first batch of signatures from the petition into Hansard and plans to read the remainder when Parliament’s Legislative Assembly next sits.

Almost 700 signatures have been approved by the Parliament for inclusion in the petition.

Ms Staley said she would also be writing to government ministers “highlighting the degree of community interest in this problem and noting the current rules and regulations that make all the proposed solutions unworkable in small communities.

“We need a new policy framework to allow existing buildings (eg schools) and centre-based family daycare to operate in these smaller communities so that women can take on paid employment for the betterment of their families and the broader economic development of the region,” Ms Staley said.

Mr Forrest said the working group, in promoting the petition, had also gathered powerful and compelling impact statements from families unable to access early family care.

The Loddon is one of several rural areas faced with virtually no child care options.

Mr Forrest said Wedderburn College would be applying for funds to establish before and after-school care as a step in addressing the crisis.

He said a one-stop shop, including a kindergarten, was scope for development of future facilities in Wedderburn and other Loddon communities.

“We are continuing to meet with local stakeholders and advocate for what parents and the community want,” he said.

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