Study launched to explore ECEC availability in SA's Far North
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Parents in Far North SA struggling for care – study launched in response

Parents in Far North SA struggling for care – study launched in response

by Freya Lucas

December 20, 2023

While many parents around Australia are struggling to access early childhood education and care (ECEC) options, those living in the Far North of South Australia are having a particularly challenging time, and resorting to flying in family members from interstate, or resigning from jobs to ‘fill the void.’ 


Their experiences are being captured in a new study being conducted by Far North Regional Development Australia with the hope of generating potential solutions. 


As part of the study researchers have met with parents and stakeholders in communities like Port Augusta, Quorn and Roxby Downs. 


Maz McGann, the consultant involved in the study recently shared her perspectives with The ABC. 


“Their jobs are at risk because they can’t get the childcare they need,” she said.


“I think one of the big things that people are doing is actually flying grandparents in from other parts of the country or even overseas to come and care for their children.”


The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue for mother of two Sonia Lawrie who lives in Roxby Downs, a town established in the mid 1980s to service the Olympic Dam mine and processing plant. 


Ms Lawrie pulled her youngest child from care when COVID-19 hit the community, and was told she would have to wait one month, at most, to regain her place in care. This has since blown out to 18 months of waiting, forcing her to resign from her job due to lack of care. 


“They need more workers in the childcare facility, and they need a bigger facility to be able to cater for the town, so mums or parents can re-enter the workplace when they have young children,” she shared with The ABC. 


Quorn Mayor Ken Anderson is worried about the ECEC options in his Flinders Ranges town, saying “we only had one private service which is a backyard private home care and that’s about to end so we won’t have any childcare services at all, and we’ve had limited services anyway,” he said.


“The closest is 45 kilometres away at Port Augusta but all the spots have filled as we understand it, so we’re severely lacking in the area.”


Mr Anderson hopes that the findings from both the Far North Regional Development Australia report and a separate feasibility study for the Quorn and Hawker area can be presented to the state government in a bid to get an ECEC service funded at the local school.


To read the original coverage of this story please see here

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