No child care or early learning in south Australia's Tumby Bay
The Sector > Provider > General News > South Australia’s Tumby Bay seeking solutions to lack of ECEC in town

South Australia’s Tumby Bay seeking solutions to lack of ECEC in town

by Freya Lucas

March 24, 2023
No vacancies, no child care

The South Australian community of Tumby Bay is seeking urgent solutions to a growing early childhood education and care (ECEC) problem in the community a year after it was deemed a childcare (sic.) desert in a 2022 Mitchell Institute report. 


Local grandmother Nancy Stewart is leading the charge for change, having been involved with ECEC in the community since 1972, saying she is “shocked” by how little is available on the Eyre Peninsula. 


She spoke candidly about the challenges recently in conversation with the ABC. When parents attend the local playgroup she offers – Song and Play – they often speak about how a lack of ECEC is impacting their capacity to go back to work. 


Ms Stewart pleaded with residents to come along to an emergency meeting earlier in March, during which a committee was formed to try and find solutions to the challenges of the community. 


“It’s a huge problem, not just in Tumby Bay but all across the Eyre Peninsula,” Ms Stewart told the ABC. Currently there is only one ECEC provider in Tumby Bay which caters for 19 children on Mondays and Fridays, and only 14 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when preschool runs at the same venue. 


Local families are “exhausted” without care and support, said parent Glenys Sauturaga, who didn’t realise “just how much emotion” was surrounding the ECEC issue until the public meeting.


“People are exhausted, it’s been a huge harvest, and the implications of that on the community and the stress has been difficult when you’re trying to plan ahead,” she said.


As the community grows, locals only expect the problem to get worse. Some families are flying in relatives from Adelaide and further afield to care for their children while they work. 


The community is urgently seeking solutions, as the lack of ECEC impacts the capacity of the community to find vital staff like nurses, teachers and more. Ms Stewart said it was crucial answers were found soon.


“There needs to be more space for children, a space where people can freely go to work if they wish to and a safe place for children,” she told the ABC. Committee members will shortly meet with the Federal Shadow Minister for Child Care and Grey MP, Rowan Ramsey.


“I don’t think we’re going to let this meeting stop at a talkfest, we want to go forward and drive the issue,” she said.


To read the original coverage of this story, please see here

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