Regulatory burden too much for Little Possums Sharing Centre
Mundaring Sharing, a community adult learning centre in the hills of Perth, Western Australia, intends to close their childcare centre, effective 1 February 2019, in part due to the regulatory burden placed on the volunteer-run committee to have legal responsibility for an accredited childcare facility.
Mundaring Sharing Chair Anthea Fellows said the committee had been unable to reach a solution which would ensure the service could remain open, adding that the decision to close was in part a “response to the complex legal responsibilities of being an approved provider”.
Under the National Quality Framework, approved providers (including volunteer committees) have legal responsibility to ensure the laws and regulations relating to service provision are met. Community Early Learning Australia outline a number of the legal responsibilities of an approved provider – including information outlining the two tiers of penalty for offences relating to a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or children and matters relating to records, policies and procedures – in their “simple guide to being an approved provider”.
Ms Fellows is quoted in local paper The Hills Gazette as saying “Little Possums is a wonderful centre but if something ever happened with a child we would wear the financial and emotional burden which is more than we wish to take on.”
Parents protesting the closure were quoted in the Gazette as saying the closure is likely to have a wide impact on the community, with a spokesperson quoted as saying the decision would directly affect 139 families, and 160 children.
Those affected by the closure have been vocal on social media, describing the closure as “selfish” and “ridiculous”, and calling on the local council to intervene.
The Hills Gazette quotes Shire of Mundaring Chief Executive Jonathan Throssell as saying “an item will be presented at the 11 December council meeting to consider potential options to continue the service”