Keep Council funded childcare in Port Phillip
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Council-funded children's centres in the City of Port Phillip are currently under threat.
In September, Council will make a decision whether or not it will continue to fund childcare centres under the current model, or allow Private and Not-For-Profit (NFP) centres to take over. In some cases, suggestions have been made to re-use existing council childcare buildings for other purposes. If this happens, we will see Council remove up to $2m of funding which it currently provides to support young, local, families living in the area.
Additionally, Community Alliance of Port Phillip member Ann Byrne stated that there was no guarantee that NFP groups would be able to take over all of the council-run Children's centres.
The below centres would be affected by this change:
- Clark Street Children's Centre
- Ada Mary A'Beckett Children’s Centre
- Bubup Nairm Children's Centre
- North St Kilda Children's Centre
- Coventry Children's Centre
- Barring Djinang Kindergarten
- Elwood Children’s Centre
How will this affect us?
The casualties of this proposed policy change are significant and wide-reaching. If this policy goes ahead, we can expect more pronounced social strata in our community, along with direct impacts on the following special-interest groups. Whom of which, are mostly women and children.
- Childcare workers - Childcare workers in these centres may find themselves out of a job, or employed in inferior working conditions in private centres where driving down employment costs is integral to their bottom line.
- Vulnerable families - families living on the margins of poverty in the City of Port Phillip will be unable to afford the additional costs that private or NFP centres would burden them with. Or, worse, the centre becomes defunct and non-existent so local access to childcare is removed entirely.
- Children from disadvantaged backgrounds - Will no longer have access to childcare facilities in the important early years, whom of which promote active lifestyles, curiosity through learning, social development and nutritionally-balanced meals as aligned with a national standards framework.
- Parents returning to the workforce - (particularly women) - The gender pay gap already creates a barrier for women wanting to go back to work after having a child. Increased childcare costs will only make this more unattainable. According to an OECD report from 2017, children from Australia are less likely to participate in formal childcare between the ages of 0-2, "reflecting and limiting the extent to which Australian mothers engage in paid work." Increased childcare costs, and/or reduced access to childcare, will exacerbate this problem.
The arguments for removing the childcare are weak and range from:
- Complaints from the Ratepayers Association around Rates costs - basically, they do not want to pay for it because they don't use it (imagine if we all took this view regarding social services).
- The centres are not disability-friendly (so instead of fixing it, we will just remove the centre altogether - this is not a solution).
Dick Gross has described council-funded childcare as "middle-to-upper-class welfare". We utterly reject this assumption and urge him (in conjunction with other councillors from Port Phillip) to:
- Fully investigate the demography of childcare workers including their employment levels and income;
- Understand the benefits of childcare for children from low-income families;
- Calculate the average annual cost of childcare in alignment with the average cost of a secondary income.
As ratepayers, parents, and just general humans, we urge you to keep council-funded childcare centres open under the current operating model for the benefit of the entire community.
The waiting lists are full. The centres are needed. This is an essential service.
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