September 28, 2011
Childcare Minister Kate Ellis is yet to reinstate ‘Take A Break’ occasional childcare funding despite recently claiming “when working parents go to sleep at night, they deserve to know that their child care service is going to be open for business in the morning”.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who has been advocating on behalf of Gippsland communities trying to save their occasional childcare services, said the Minister’s comments indicate that she hasn’t been listening to local families.
Mr Chester said the Adelaide-based Minister has so far refused an offer from the Victorian Coalition Government to co-fund the ‘Take A Break’ program in a shared 70-30 per cent arrangement.
The 70-30 arrangement was in place until the Gillard Government withdrew its 70 per cent component at the 2010/11 Budget. The Victorian Government picked up the tab and agreed to fund the program until December 31, 2011.
“The Minister still hasn’t realised the impacts that this decision will have on families from small communities in Gippsland,” Mr Chester said.
“My office has been contacted by families from Gormandale, Heyfield, Yarram, Lindenow, Paynesville, Cann River, Swifts Creek and Mallacoota who are all seriously concerned that they won’t have a childcare service past December 31 this year.
“I have written to the Minister on their behalf and raised the issue in Parliament several times, including presenting a petition carrying over 1100 signatures which calls on the Gillard Government to reinstate ‘Take A Break’ funding.”
Mr Chester said the Minister cannot ignore the critical need for childcare services in regional communities any longer.
“If the State Government is prepared to reinstate its 30 per cent component, the Minister should come on board and provide the 70 per cent component which will keep occasional childcare services running in regional communities,” Mr Chester said.
“It shouldn’t be this hard for regional communities to get a fair go out of this government.”
Mr Chester said the petition is ongoing and he will lodge additional petition papers when Parliament resumes.
Anybody wishing to sign the petition can obtain a copy by contacting Mr Chester’s office on 5144 6744 or downloading one from his website www.darrenchester.com