MORE than 300 people have signed a petition calling for more funding for rural childcare in the wake of Albury Wodonga Community College abandoning services.
The 337 names were on Friday presented to member for Indi Cathy McGowan by Bellbridge mother Gennifer Hamam, having been collected since Sunday.
The petition to be presented to parliament asks the Lower House “to put forward a bill to provide additional funding for rural childcare facilities to help support rural families whose options differ greatly from their urban counterparts”.
Mrs Hamam said: “Just because we’re not in built-up areas doesn’t mean we should be at a disadvantage.”
Ms McGowan said Education Minister Dan Tehan, who represents south-west Victoria, told her none of the 17 rural centres in his seat were experiencing the problems the college had cited.
Mr Tehan declined to answer The Border Mail’s questions on Friday about the funding model, the college and his non-appearance at public forums at Henty and Wodonga on December 17.
Instead he provided a statement largely attacking the Labor Party.
Mr Tehan’s Liberal colleague Farrer MP Sussan Ley said while the college had “done a great job in delivering services” she had been surprised by its board’s decision considering discussions over funding were occurring in Canberra “as late as last week”.
She defended having Sydney backbencher Craig Laundy represent Mr Tehan on December 17.
“He’s someone who cuts through the bureaucracy, likes to get the job done, and he understands the varied cross border issues we have,” Ms Ley said.
Meanwhile, Greater Hume Shire acting general manger David Smith said his council would be willing to take on Henty and Walla childcare services on an interim basis.
“We’re looking at trying to have something in place in the middle of January when the centres were due to re-open,” he said.