Recently I received correspondence from the Deans Marsh Community Cottage raising serious concerns about its occasional child-care service, which is currently operating under the Take a Break program, as well as the job security of its two child-care workers. The Baillieu government’s decision to cut funding for this vital service will force the Deans Marsh Community Cottage to increase fees for the service by 25 per cent next year, causing the service to potentially lose some children as it becomes increasingly unaffordable.
Occasional child care is very important for young families, particularly those living in rural areas.
As well as giving parents the opportunity to attend appointments, access educational opportunities and participate in recreational activities, many parents use the service so they can undertake part-time work to support their families. The correspondence I received from Deans Marsh Community Cottage states:
“Being a rural community, many mothers … use the time their child is in care to assist their husbands with farm work or complete other tasks too difficult or dangerous to do with their children present.”
The Deans Marsh occasional child-care service, as well as other services provided by community houses along the Surf Coast and hinterland, are the only services available in these small communities. If these services close, parents will have absolutely no child-care options that are close by.
The value and importance of occasional child-care services, particularly in rural and regional communities such as Deans Marsh, cannot be overstated. I urge this government to reinstate full funding for the Take a Break program.