Jenny Mikakos visits Chiltern to launch early years education hub

LAUNCH: Indigo Mayor Jenny O'Connor and Cr Sophie Price join Minister Jenny Mikakos at the launch of the Chiltern Early Years Education Hub. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

LAUNCH: Indigo Mayor Jenny O'Connor and Cr Sophie Price join Minister Jenny Mikakos at the launch of the Chiltern Early Years Education Hub. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

Sophie Price has been waiting for two years for more day care in Chiltern – and the community as a whole has been waiting even longer.

Tenders open on Saturday to build the Chiltern Early Years Education Hub, to provide the town’s first ever long day care service.

The $320,000 project will see the community centre and kindergarten buildings on Main Street upgraded, increasing capacity to take children aged six weeks to four years by 33 places.

Cr Price raised the issue before being elected to Indigo Council and said the progress was welcome news.

“We’ve already got a good population of young families but I think this will really do a lot to attract more to our small towns,” she said.

“I think the 30 places will be filled quite quickly and I think it’s in line with the need in the town.”

The Victorian government put $240,000 towards the upgrade, with the Albury-Wodonga Community College contributing $65,500 and council $15,000.

Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos visited Chiltern on Wednesday to turn the first sod.

“This new children’s hub is going to provide a doubling of the number of kinder places – they are increasing from 33 at the moment, to 66,” she said.

“The maternal and child health service is moving into this new facility as well. That will provide a one-stop-shop for local families to access all their early childhood services in one location.

“In an Australia-first we are introducing needs-based funding for kindergartens.”

Concept plans for Chiltern Early Years Education Hub

Concept plans for Chiltern Early Years Education Hub

Ms Mikakos said the hub would be open in 2018.

“My understanding is the details of all that (operational days) will be worked out by Indigo Shire together with the local service provider,” she said. “This is a really exciting development, bringing all these services together.”

Indigo Council acting chief executive Mark Florence said the existing building would be extended out to the east.

“We’ll rennovate the existing building to include two children’s rooms, a sleep room, two children’s toilets, one disabled toilet and shower, a laundry and two adult toilets and a covered outdoor area will be installed,” he said.

Mayor Jenny O’Connor said the initiative formed part of the Chiltern Placemaking Plan.

“I would like to thank the people of Chiltern for the amazing work they have done to contributing to this,” she said.

“The project is fully funded we’re also using state funding to leverage to get federal funding from the Building Better Regions fund,” she said.