Health | April 20, 2022

Funding for Yarriambiack childcare desperately needed

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan have met with representatives of the Murtoa community and Yarriambiack Shire Council to discuss the desperate need for a childcare facility in the local area.

The council arranged the meeting to explore potential funding opportunities after the Andrews Labor Government advised it was unlikely to support a funding application for a new childcare facility in Murtoa because the town was not in a “growth corridor”.

The meeting heard that council had planned to build a new childcare centre at the rear of the current Murtoa Kindergarten location site on Marma Street.

However with a recent structural assessment showing the current kindergarten building requires extensive investment, council is now exploring the option of co-locating the kindergarten and childcare centre on one site at Murtoa P-12 College or on a block of land near both the College and Our Lady Help of Christians School.

Ms Kealy said Murtoa was in the unique situation of having childcare workers, pre-school aged children and land ready to go, but was missing the required infrastructure to make the project a reality.

“It makes absolute sense to co-locate a new kindergarten and new childcare centre – and potential incorporate maternal child health services too – on one site and in the area that is already home to Murtoa P-12 College and Our Lady Help of Christians School,” Ms Kealy said.

“Yarriambiack Shire Council has done an enormous amount of work to bring this project to fruition, including undertaking a condition assessment of the existing kindergarten building, which showed the current facility requires a substantial amount of work and investment to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

“The council has committed $400,000 to fund this important project, and now needs government funding to get the project over the line so that local families can access the care they need.”

Ms Kealy said Labor’s justification for rejecting the council’s previous approach for funding support because Murtoa was not in a growth corridor was completely unjustified. 

“The Andrews Labor Government must recognise that families in rural Victoria need access to childcare just as much as families living in what Labor defines as a “growth corridor”, and it’s simply unfair and neglectful to say we deserve anything less,” she said.

“I have met with ICU nurses, teachers and a dental nurse in the area who all keen to return to the local workforce, but have been unable to do so simply because there is no childcare available in their local community.

“A new childcare facility in Murtoa will unlock this local workforce that is so desperately needed – these families just need our support to make this happen.

“The state budget in May provides the Andrews Labor Government with an excellent opportunity to correct their neglect of local families in the past and provide the funding necessary to establish an early years children’s learning hub in Murtoa.”

The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster has also met with council and the local community, and is keen to support council’s forthcoming application to the Federal Government’s new $19.4 million Community Child Care Fund, which will open in June.

The council has also applied to the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Round 6 Funding round for the project.

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