darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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November 4, 2011

The Gillard Government is refusing to reinstate ‘Take A Break’ occasional childcare funding in regional areas despite a motion calling for action on the issue receiving support in Federal Parliament.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester spoke on the motion, pointing out the impact that the shutdown of occasional childcare services would have on several Gippsland communities.

Mr Chester has spoken with families and staff during visits to a number of occasional childcare services across Gippsland. He has been campaigning to have the funding reinstated and has taken community concerns directly to the Federal Minister.

He said the ‘Take A Break’ funding situation was an example of the Gillard Government not listening to the complaints of regional communities.

“This very issue highlights the hypocrisy of this government. It claims to care about regional families and then cuts funding to a program that, in many cases, provides the only form of childcare in small country towns,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“We had a program that worked and now this Federal Government and this Minister are refusing to listen to the people of regional Victoria who just want the funding to be guaranteed for the future.

“We are talking about a miserable $12.6 million over four years and this program was doing enormous good throughout regional communities.

“It is support for mums who may then have the opportunity to take on some part-time work or just simply do the grocery shopping or have a little bit of time to themselves while their children are in a good care environment.”

Mr Chester said unless funding was reinstated, several communities in Gippsland faced the prospect of no childcare service whatsoever.

“Towns like Gormandale, Heyfield, Yarram, Sale, Lindenow, Paynesville, Cann River, Swifts Creek and Mallacoota all have very well-run occasional care programs,” Mr Chester said.

“But there is a very real threat that by the end of this year none of these programs will exist.

“The Minister must reinstate occasional childcare funding and restore confidence in regional communities that someone in Canberra is actually listening to them.

“It really should not be this hard for us to provide occasional care in these communities.”

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