Lorne establishes new working group to tackle ECEC shortages
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Lorne establishes new working group to tackle ECEC shortages

Lorne establishes new working group to tackle ECEC shortages

by Freya Lucas

April 18, 2023
Children ride boogie boards on the beach at Lorne.

Families in the Victorian Surf Coast town of Lorne have partnered with caregivers, interested community members, Great Ocean Road Health and the Surf Coast Shire to respond to the long running early childhood education and care (ECEC) availability issues the town is experiencing. 


In early 2022 Lorne Community House was reduced to one part-time educator who was restricted to looking after a maximum of four children, at which point between 20 and 30 families were told they had no access to ECEC in Lorne.


Since that time families have held several meetings to discuss potential solutions, including a proposal by local artist and business owner Anna McIldowie’s to create a “Dial a Grandparent” service and “Lorne Babysitters Club” as a stop-gap measure.


Ms McIldowie welcomed the working group’s formation, sharing with local paper Surf Coast Times that “progress is certainly being made.”


Gail Gatt, the General Manager of Community Life for Surf Coast Shire said the working group would meet after the school holidays, and would address issues like social isolation, especially for families and children; social interaction and connection for families and children; the ability for parents and caregivers, especially mothers, to return to the workforce while raising a family; and strengthening the Lorne and surrounding regional community.


The Shire has also proposed an additional session of unfunded kinder in Lorne for children aged three and above.


“An expression of interest was conducted, with two families accepting the offer and currently on a waitlist. This waitlist will remain open until more families express interest in the session, as more children turn three,” she explained to the paper.


Ms McIldowie said the grassroots advocacy was continuing in Lorne, and there were parallel efforts to create more secure and affordable housing.


“There has been a big shift of consciousness in the town around how fundamental secure childcare (sic.) is to the functioning and sustainability of the town and community.” 


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