March 2, 2012
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has called on the Gillard Government to redeem itself and provide funding for childcare services in Yarram, during the February sitting of Federal Parliament.
Mr Chester told Parliament the Yarram community hub childcare centre had bipartisan support leading into the 2007 election but the funding has still not eventuated.
“Given this government’s track record in relation to broken promises, I should not be so surprised,” Mr Chester said.
In 2007 the then Member for Gippsland Peter McGauran made a $1 million commitment that a re-elected Coalition Government would fund a childcare service in Yarram, a commitment that was publicly matched by the Labor candidate at the time.
“Their candidate made a commitment to the same project, so I believe this is something that the government should revisit,” Mr Chester told Parliament.
“I am pleased to say that there has been something of a breakthrough on this issue in recent times in the form of the commitment made by the Victorian State Government to the community hub project.
“We still, though, have a long way to go. We will need more funding to be secured for the full scope of the project and I am hopeful that the State and Federal Government will be able to see their way clear to working with the Wellington Shire Council and working with those hardworking and deserving citizens of the Yarram district to finally deliver childcare services.
“I think it is a great project and believe it is well worthy of government support.”
Mr Chester said the lack of childcare services was identified as a major issue in the Yarram district more than five years ago.
“The members of the Yarram district community have been very patient.
“They have worked tirelessly to have the project developed to this stage and they deserve to be commended for their efforts,” Mr Chester said.
“The Wellington Shire Council has completed a feasibility study to determine what services should actually be included in the community hub model, but it needs some additional funding before construction can begin.
“I understand that Council is going to consider the recommendations of this feasibility study and determine which is the best way to progress but that either way childcare is going to be included as a core service.
“It is likely that the community hub will include a public library, a kindergarten, child care and community meeting spaces in the shire service centre, so it meets a lot of this government’s commentary, if you like, about consolidating community services and providing that hub-type approach where small regional communities like Yarram can enjoy the support services that perhaps some of our major regional centres and certainly our metropolitan areas take for granted.
“It is actually impossible for us in some of our small regional towns to attract skilled workers unless we can offer some of the services that people expect—in particular, in the modern era, childcare services.
“If we are going to attract teachers, doctors and other skilled professionals to our small regional towns, we need to make sure we have that level of childcare service which is befitting our regional centres.”