Beachport creates working group to solve ECEC issues
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Beachport working group is trying to put together ECEC options to boost care

Beachport working group is trying to put together ECEC options to boost care

by Freya Lucas

April 11, 2024

Beachport is a small coastal town in the Australian state of South Australia, about 311 kilometres south-east of the state capital of Adelaide and about 34 kilometres north-west of Millicent.


Along with beautiful beaches and thriving local industries of agriculture, viticulture, tourism, fishing and surfboard manufacturing, Beachport has one thing in common with other small coastal communities around the country – it is struggling to find dedicated and compassionate care options for its children. 


A new working group in the town is building in numbers after frustrated residents took matters into their own hands, seeking a solution to the lack of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in their community. 


Currently the only ECEC service available in Beachport is the once weekly Childcare on Wheels (COWS) program provided by the neighbouring Robe District Council.


Beachport resident Chelsea Betheras is part of the new sub-committee, and said local businesses are struggling to find staff because of the lack of ECEC.


“When moving to this area we hadn’t bought a house, and I needed to earn an income to get a bank loan to buy a house, and there are no rentals,” she shared with local news source Border Watch.


“It’s stunting the development of Beachport in a lot of ways.The town can’t move on if we don’t have the facilities to keep it moving.”


“We can’t seem to attract doctors here because where are they going to put their children if they’ve got young families.”


The sub-committee is gathering stories from locals which it will then present to Wattle Range Council (WRC) and government organisations with the aim of increasing hours and days for Beachport ECEC services.


Supported by Beachport Primary School’s (BPS) governing council, and parent committee, the sub-committee has created a three tier action plan.


The first step is to engage WRC and to invite a representative to join the working committee or supply resources to help the small group work toward their goal.


Secondly, the sub-committee would like to see a COWS type setup in collaboration with the WRC and, possibly, the Gladys Smith Early Learning Centre (GSELC).


The goal of this step would be to see ECEC be available in Beachport on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week using the preschool room at the primary school, which is currently used by COWS.


The third tier is a major undertaking to build new facilities which would ideally include a primary school along with an ECEC space which would offer long day care, preschool and outside school hours care. 


“The primary school here is quite rundown, quite small and the office buildings are outdated,” Ms Betheras said.


“If we get a new learning hub, we can go from zero to Grade Six in that one area.”


“They’re bringing in all these wonderful incentives, saying how important it is for children’s development from nought to five, but they’re not providing us with the funding or the services to facilitate these things they want to happen.”


To read the local coverage of this story please see here

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