Lisa Chesters, Labor Candidate for Bendigo, is calling on local councils to consider applying for new funding that will assist in providing more child care places for local families.
Ms Chesters said that the Federal Labor Government will invest $5 million towards a Child Care Accessibility Fund that will offer grants of up to $250,000 to around 12 local governments.
“The funding will be used to cut planning and development red tape, free up vacant land for child care centres, or incorporate child care into schools and TAFEs,” Ms Chesters said.
“A shortage of child care places is a big issue in many parts of Australia, including Bendigo and Central Victoria.
“I know from meeting with local councils that this is an issue for our region. In a meeting with the a local council last month, childcare and funding to assist meeting community demands was the first issue councillors raised with me."
“I encourage all councils in the region to apply for funding and put forward ideas that they may have to improve child care options in their area.”
The Fund is now open, with applications to be lodged by 2 August, 2013.
The onus will be on local governments to demonstrate how they will increase child care places, but possible examples of measures that could be taken include local governments that:
• Partner with businesses or community organisations to build new child care centres.
• Extend or modify new or existing centres, to provide more child care places.
• Remove child care planning and development red tape.
• Streamline approval processes.
• Extend child care opening hours.
• Collaborate with State Governments to free up Crown land or better access under-utilised capacity at existing sites (e.g. schools).
Ms Chesters said the Accessibility Fund also followed the recent announcement of $220,000 to develop best practice guidelines for state, territory and local government child care planning and development.
“Under this Government, the number of children in child care at any one time has grown to one million — an increase of nearly 30 per cent since 2007 — and these children are now receiving better quality child care through the National Quality Framework,” Ms Chesters said.
Information on the Child Care Accessibility Fund is available at: www.deewr.gov.au/CCAF.