Parents rally for vital service
SINCE Minister for Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell’s announcement in May that State funding of the Take a Break program would be scrapped, there has been continued backlash from parents of all walks of life, who rely on the essential service on a daily basis.
The Take a Break childcare program was designed to provide respite for parents/guardians of children aged 0–6 years, enabling children to participate in a range of activities including recreational and social.
As well, the service had become a vital lifeline for rural or remote farming families, who see the program as a rare opportunity for children to not only socialise, but for parents to operate their farming and business practices safely.
On Friday at Tallygaroopna Kindergarten, close to 100 parents and children met with Minister Wendy Lovell with placards in hand to express their bitter disappointment at the program’s end and to plead for the reinstatement of funding for continued services.
Local Tallygaroopna Primary School Principal, David Brodie who was in attendance said that the flow on effect of the program’s closure would be felt throughout the entire community.
“In small communities like ours, occasional care is often a stepping stone to three and four year old kinder as well as local schools. It won’t just be occasional care that suffers from the scrapping of this program, it will be kinders, the schools and the entire community.”
Tallygaroopna Kindergarten President, Philippa Collins said, “We are wanting Wendy to secure the funding that we need, which is only a $25,000 shortfall across our region.”
As a committee member at Tallygaroopna for the past two and a half years and with children of her own who attend the kinder, Philippa says the local member, Wendy Lovell needs to support this important issue.
“We’re caught in the middle of a political football match and it is local people who are going to suffer.”
Local parent, Natalie Akers said she is at a loss as to why the program will discontinue.
“From all of my discussions with Council and Government Departments, Occasional care across the five City of Greater Shepparton facilities costs around $100,000 to operate. Of this $100,000 families pay 55%, the Council pays 25% and is happy to continue paying this 25% contribution. This leaves us roughly with a $20-25,000 shortfall in State Government funds.”
“I think many of us are tired that this issue has become a political football between the State and Commonwealth. I think we all need to remember that it has been over 12 months since the Federal Government pulled out their funds and in the meantime, three other State Governments have agreed to fund this shortfall.
“We want to know the Victorian Government has a plan. Rural areas need this service, we want to see the uncertainty over the program resolved.”