Glen Eira hints at service closures
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Glen Eira City Council hints at the closure of three services in the days before Christmas

Glen Eira City Council hints at the closure of three services in the days before Christmas

by Freya Lucas

October 09, 2023

Glen Eira City Council, in Melbourne’s south-east, is considering closing three of its early childhood centres at the end of this year, notifying families via email earlier this week about the decision. 


The three centres are in Caulfield, Carnegie and Murrumbeena, with Mayor Jim Magee reportedly saying the older centres were “no longer fit for purpose” and were expected to operate at a loss of at least $570,000 per year. 


As such, he continued, the council needed to make an economic decision which may result in challenging times for staff, children and families. 


35 permanent and 11 casual staff would be impacted by the closures, should they progress. Staff were informed of the potential impact during a meeting held just prior to the email being distributed. 


Seraphya Berrin, a Caufield father of three told The Age that he was “flabbergasted” to receive the email and attached 30-page document about the potential closure, particularly given that two of his three children attend Caulfield Early Learning Centre (CELC) – one for five days and the other for three. He had been in the process of enrolling his younger child for a fourth day so he could return to full-time work and was planning on sending his six-month-old son next year.


Many services in the area have already completed their enrolments for 2024, and Mr Berrin said he simply could not understand the urgency behind the council’s sudden move. 


“We have three kids. How are we going to get them in the same place?” he asked. 


The Mayor said the service’s were established in the 1990s, and that the age of the buildings “meant they were no longer fit for purpose”. He indicated that the council would consider consolidating the centres as part of the consultation process.


The number of childcare places in Glen Eira has doubled since 2010 and increased from 3,966 places to 5,731 places since 2019 – an increase of 44 per cent. Nine non-council centres now in the planning phase will offer a further 919 places.


Mayor Magee said the Council has confidence that the supply of places in the area will meet current and future demand, and that any decision in relation to closures “was not a fait accompli,
saying the Council will consult directly with affected families, staff and the community before making its final decision at a meeting in December.


“There are options for us,” he said to The Age. “We can close them, we can keep just going along as we are, or we can consolidate them into one site. If we did that, it would cost about $10 million – $10 million we just don’t have. It’s not in our long-term financial plans. So … we’d have to look at where that money would come from.”


Access the original coverage of this story here.

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