THE closure of three childcare centres at Mitta, Walwa and Bellbridge must be avoided at all costs, according to Towong mayor David Wortmann.
One of the smallest local government areas in the state and facing an uphill battle to keep young families, Towong Shire is the hardest hit by the Albury-Wodonga Community College’s decision to close childcare centres in rural areas of the region.
Council met yesterday and agreed to keep the pressure on the federal government to provide enough funding to keep its three centres open.
“It’s so serious to our shire and the flow-on effect is just enormous,” Cr Wortmann said.
“Childcare is the one thing that will enable families to stay in isolated communities.
“Once a family moves to a childcare somewhere else it also takes kids out of schools in those places.
“We are going to find it hard to find a provider to take these services on long term.”
Towong chief executive Julianna Phelps met with AWCC boss Rod Wangman on Monday for a briefing on the decision to close the childcare centres with the first of a series of crisis meetings to be held at Mitta tonight followed by another at Bellbridge tomorrow.
Towong Shire representatives have confirmed their attendance with an official from the federal education department also to attend meetings at Mitta and another also planned for Henty the next day.
Meanwhile, federal early childhood education shadow minister Amanda Rishworth said the government had failed to heed warnings about changed funding formulas from July 1.
“For some time I have been concerned about the impact of the Liberals childcare changes on rural and regional early education services,” Ms Rishworth said.
“The government knew their changes would adversely affect early education providers, but they refused to listen to educators and providers.
“Families in regional Australia need better access to services and yet this government is happy to see them close their doors.”