Port Phillip Council cleared for ongoing ECEC operations following public interest review
A public interest test review, conducted as part of the Victorian Government’s Competitive Neutrality Policy has cleared the way for Port Phillip Council to continue to operate its early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.
The review found the services operated by the Council should continue “as they are providing more accessible care and quality education for vulnerable children than other providers (community and privately-run centres).”
In welcoming the findings, Port Phillip Council Mayor, Bernadene Voss, said the COVID-19 pandemic “has shown how critical it is to have a safety net for those who need it most”.
“Every child should have access to the best possible start in life. We now have the data to show that transitioning out of these centres would not be in the public interest as it would risk Council achieving its long-standing goal of ensuring that all vulnerable children have access to quality early education and care services,” Mayor Voss added.
The continued operation of the services is also likely to “contribute to the stability of the childcare sector in Port Phillip at this challenging time,” the mayor said.
Direct subsidies by the Council, a statement noted, have “been substantially reduced through a range of measures” at Council operated centres so the cost is comparable to other providers in the City.
Mayor Voss thanked those who provided feedback on the Council’s updated Children’s Services policy, endorsed last year after ‘extensive’ community consultation.
“We heard loud and clear that accessible and high-quality childcare is important to many in our community. The outcome of this review is a milestone for this important policy which aims to ensure all children, regardless of their background, have access to quality early years services,” she added.
The findings will be reviewed annually to ensure there have been no changes which could affect the continuation of these services not meeting the public interest test.