In-home care initiative seeks to lessen childcare stress in Port Hedland

by Freya Lucas

June 12

An in-home childcare program has been launched in the remote Port Hedland community of Western Australia, seeking to help families employed in the region to balance the responsibilities of family and work. Port Hedland, established in 1896, is found on the Pilbara coast, 1765 km northwest of Perth.

 

The program, facilitated by YMCA, will consist of a pool of self-employed early childhood educators who will provide in-home care for up to five children living in the same home. The Fortescue Metals Group has committed to support the recruitment, training and support costs for 20 early childhood educators over two years, on the condition that those educators will be exclusively available to Fortescue families. Parents will be responsible for meeting the cost of care.

 

Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the Group has focused on implementing policies that  help families balance work and family responsibilities, while fostering a workplace culture that truly embraces diversity, and that the childcare program was an integral part of these policies.

 

“Many of Fortescue’s residential families have difficultly accessing traditional childcare due to limited vacancies or standard operating hours not aligning with rosters. Not only does this impact an individual’s ability to work as much as they choose, it can limit the opportunity to attract and retain talent and diversity across our business, especially women,” Ms Gaines noted.

 

She hoped that, by increasing the availability and flexibility of in-home care to the Groups’Port Hedland Operations team, a practical solution would present itself, allowing women and men balancing work and family responsibilities to reach their full potential within the organisation.

 

As a single parent, Fortescue employee Bryni Kelly said she is excited about the childcare program and what it means for her family. Currently her flexible roster allows her to take her daughter to school, however a lack of available care in the region means she is restricted to working part-time hours. The new arrangement will mean the possibility of full-time work for Ms Kelly.

 

More information on the in-home care initiative is available here.

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