Port Hedland to analyse ECEC supply and demand in region
Councillors in the remote Western Australian community of Port Hedland have endorsed action to be taken in light of community concern regarding the availability of childcare in the region, announcing that the town will conduct a detailed analysis of childcare service demand across the community.
The analysis will investigate the capability of existing providers and associated infrastructure to accommodate additional childcare.
Port Hedland is the second largest town in Australia’s Pilbara region, with a population of nearly 15,000 including are approximately 3,000 young families. Concern in the community regarding the availability of childcare in the region echos concerns raised in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commision report Emerging Themes: National Inquiry into Rural and Remote education.
The emerging themes report notes that in many areas of rural and remote Australia, there is limited or no access to preschool education, and that the impact of funding changes and privatisation in the long day care sector had been a subject of considerable debate within rural and remote children’s services. Issues relating to staff recruitment, retention and developments in training also emerged from the report as policy concerns, alongside the increasing focus on the need to improve children’s transitions to school, and their transitions between ECEC environments.
Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said this was an issue which directly impacted on the wellbeing of local families and the liveability of the town, saying that even though childcare is not a core business of local government, there was a need for the council to be proactive.
“It’s clear there is a deepening shortage of childcare services in Hedland, with expectant mothers now placing unborn children on waitlists to secure placements. The town has already discussed tenure options of the South Hedland TAFE space with the Department of Training and Workforce Development, and a contractor has assessed Port Hedland Library’s potential activation.” Mayor Blanco said.