Update on Albury Wodonga services affected by BBF change

by Freya Lucas

January 14, 2019

Three childcare centres in small rural communities in the Albury Wodonga region are set to re-open in 2019, after service provider Albury Wodonga Community College (AWCC) was forced to withdraw their early childhood education and care (ECEC) services from the region after the introduction of the child care subsidy (CCS), ending the previous budget based funding (BBF) model which had been supporting the services.

 

At the time of closure announcement in 2018, AWCC Chairman Kevin Poulton was quoted in The Border Mail as saying AWCC had underwritten average annual losses of $30,000 for the past eight years, but that the introduction of CCS had “increased the losses tenfold”.  

 

Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has welcomed the commitment to the reopening of the three childcare centres saying “I want to thank everyone for the way they have worked with me and together to solve the problem when the centres closed in December,” Ms McGowan said.

 

Wodonga TAFE will reopen the service at Mitta Mitta, while Towong Shire Council will reopen the services at Walwa and Bellbridge, likely from late January 2019.

 

Greater Hume Shire Council will reopen services at Henty and Walla in NSW.

 

“I thank Minister Dan Tehan and his staff; the Department of Education and Training; Towong and Greater Hume councils; and Wodonga TAFE, as well as those community members and providers, who have been involved in discussions with communities and providers during the Christmas period to confirm solutions for these families,” Ms McGowan said.

 

“There has been tremendous goodwill among the parties to ensure these children can continue to be cared for in their communities. This update will address parents’ anxiety and confirms the new arrangements in a timely manner.”

 

This week’s update from the department follows a roundtable held in Wodonga in December to address the closures of the centres at Mitta, Walwa, Kergunyah, Baranduda and Bellbridge in North East Victoria, as well as Henty and Walla in NSW.

 

Ms McGowan said there were plans for a new, larger child care service to open at Baranduda later this year, delivered by Village Early Education. Meanwhile, consideration is being given to providing child care in the interim in the existing building.

 

She said a number of families attending the Kergunyah centre have found alternative local child care arrangements.

 

Ms McGowan confirmed that families impacted by the centre closures had been advised by the relevant departments of contact details for the new providers.

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