Funds to replenish South Gippsland’s ‘childcare desert’


IT’S welcome news, and notwithstanding the fact there’s been no specific consultation, it doesn’t surprise the good folk at the Prom Coast Centres for Children that Foster is on the list for childcare funding.

The attractive, little town, nestled between the hills, Corner Inlet and the Prom, hosts a 65-place long-day centre for children that is heavily oversubscribed.

On any given week, between 250 and 300 children use the service and more would readily arrive if the Foster centre was expanded or outreach services were established in Welshpool, Toora or Fish Creek.

“According to the findings of the Murdoch Institute, the Corner Inlet area is classified as a ‘Childcare Desert’, meaning childcare services are heavily under-supplied,” said a spokesperson for Prom Coast Centres, which as well as the Foster day-care, operates kinders at Fish Creek, Foster, Welshpool and Toora.

“We saw the funding promise made by Labor, that we could be one of the next 26 services funded, but if that happens, we would be working with the department and the community to establish where the highest areas of need are.”

The spokesperson said it could result in a long-day children’s centre being built in one of the smaller South Gippsland towns.

“A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will build and run 50 new low-cost childcare centres, build more kinders, establish a workforce package to tackle skills shortages and roll out 30 hours of Pre-Prep across the state,” said Daniel Andrews in his announcement on Sunday, November 20.

“Labor will establish 50 new government-owned and operated early education centres in the communities that need them most. And with no time to waste, we’re announcing the first 30 locations – with a fast-tracked four childcare centres in Eaglehawk North, Fawkner, Murtoa and Sunshine.

“Opening in 2025, the first four centres will deliver childcare, kindergarten, and eventually Pre-Prep and – where possible – other early childhood services. They will be co-located at Eaglehawk North Primary School, Moomba Park Primary School, Murtoa College and Sunshine Primary School.

“This means more childcare places where they’re needed, while also saving parents from the dreaded double drop-off.”

He included a list of the next 26 service, including those to be located at Foster, Yallourn North-Glengarry, Hallam, and Dandenong.

“Our childcare centres will mean a high-quality, low-cost option for the communities that need it most. Most

importantly, it’ll give parents certainty and kids the bright start they deserve.”

Mr Andrews said it’s an investment that makes sense, setting our little ones up for the future and helping more families juggle the cost and complexity of child-care.

“It’ll mean more opportunities for our kids to play, learn and make friends, and one less headache for their parents.”

And if the offshore wind rollout works up the expected head-of-steam, and uses the Barry Beach marine terminal, they’ll need childcare for the workers and their families.

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