KI struggles as lack of ECEC hampers bushfire recovery
Kangaroo Island, located off the south western coast of South Australia, was dramatically impacted by the 2019/20 summer of bushfires, with fires on the island being the largest in recorded history, raging for over a month, and destroying approximately 211,000 hectares of the 440,500 hectare island.
As the island recovers, and the community works with sources including the Australian Defence Force, wildlife organisations, BlazeAid and many volunteers, a lack of suitable early childhood education and care (ECEC) facilities for the Western District of the island is hampering economic recovery, with community leaders calling for support through the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program announced in May this year.
A revived childcare service at Parndana is among the many initiatives proposed to aid the island’s economic recovery currently being assessed by state and federal governments for funding consideration.
Lobby group Parenting KI has been working for almost three years to create an ECEC service to cater to the Western District of the island, with spokesperson Stephanie Wurst sharing with local publication The Islander that “there’s been a strong demand from the community for a childcare centre for many years to service the whole Western district.”
“KI Children’s Services have been working with us and have been a great support throughout this whole process,” Ms Wurst added, praising the previous work put in by KI Children’s services as putting the committee in “a good position to raise the issue further.”
While the Department of Human Services were able to intervene at the time of the fires to establish an emergency childcare service, the service ceased in March as a result of COVID restrictions, something Ms Wurst said was devastating for both those using the service, and the 11 families who were on a waiting list to access care.
Discussions at both State and Federal levels remain ongoing.
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