Brisbane CBD ECEC service reduces fees $50 a day to alleviate record low enrolments
Brisbane City Child Care has reduced fees by $50 a day in a bid to lure parents back to the service after attendance rates and enrolments experienced a significant decline during the pandemic.
Co-Directors Chris Buck and Rebecca Stacey spoke to the Australian Financial Review (AFR) telling the paper that the service, which has 12 rooms, has more than half its rooms closed because of substantial vacancies.
Of the 147 licenced places only 70 are occupied, leaving the approved provider scrambling for ideas about how to turn the tide. The discounts have been inspired by commercial airlines offering cheaper seats to encourage people to fly again as the border restrictions have eased.
“It’s exactly the same as planes,” Mr Buck told the paper “we’re flying planes that are half full. We want to get people back into the CBD.”
While the trend of returning to work in city based premises was rising at the beginning of the year, flooding in late February and early March has reversed the momentum, with public transport schedules disrupted and a sharp rise in petrol prices serving as a further disincentive to commuters.
Parents, Mr Buck said, have worked out that coming into the CBD for work costs them on average $5000 a year in additional expenses for lunches, coffees and transport, and that Brisbane City Child Care was aiming to make the discount more than the price of coming back to work in the CBD to compensate.
“We’ve got capacity to offer this discount for some months, and we’re happy to do it,” he added. He has operated the service for 18 years, and described the shift to a work from home model as the most dramatic change he has seen in the CBD.
The challenges of operating CBD centres in the current climate also drew comment from G8 Education CEO Gary Carroll who said that the provider, which currently operates over 470 services Australia wide, has no plans to acquire or build CBD based services.
“I think the reality of people not working five days a week in an office environment is going to stay,” he said. “We haven’t opened a CBD centre for a while, and we don’t have any on our radar.”
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