Families at ANU concerned by lack of licence renewal
The Sector > Provider > General News > Families at ANU early learning centres ‘left in a tailspin’ with licences not renewed

Families at ANU early learning centres ‘left in a tailspin’ with licences not renewed

by Freya Lucas

June 19, 2024

The licences of four early learning settings associated with the Australian National University (ANU) are due to expire on 31 January 2025, and the university has announced that it will not renew them, leaving families concerned about the next steps for children currently enrolled and on the waiting list. 


University Preschool and Child Care Centre (UPCCC), Acton Early Child Care, Cubby House on Campus and Heritage Early Childhood Centre (all located in the Acton Conservation Precinct) are included in the decision, which has been widely reported in local media. 


The decision was communicated to families by ANU Chief Operating Officer Christopher Price in a letter, which reportedly read: 


“Due to the age of these buildings and the ongoing work required to remediate hail damage and ensure the buildings meet our high standards, the University has explored options to help us provide the best, uninterrupted childcare services for ANU families in the future.” 


The centres will be closed unless alternative venues can be found, with one staff member describing the stress on learning the news as nauseating. 


“I just wanted to throw up when I heard the news,” one staff member who just commenced parental leave shared with RiotACT. 


“Finding good childcare is hard enough, and without warning, ANU is pulling the rug from underneath hundreds of families – their own staff, too!”


Another staff member said the decision would impact their decision about returning to work, saying waiting lists are 18 months or more, and that they had been on UPCCC since the tenth week of their pregnancy. 


Parents at the service are protesting the closure, with an online petition issued also. An open letter has been sent to the University calling on it to extend the lease by six months, to engage in meaningful community consultation, and to agree that only community-based, not-for-profit organisations should be considered for the university’s new centres.


Two purpose-built childcare facilities are under construction on campus and are expected to be complete by the time the community centres close.


Procurement is underway to find the operators of these new centres, which the community providers have been invited to participate in.


Mr Price has communicated to families using the existing ANU services that they will be prioritised in the new facilities, and that there would be enough spaces to meet the current level of demand for early learning services on campus. 


“We will work to ensure ANU parents and families have access to the excellent services and facilities you expect in our childcare centres, both now and into the future,” his letter notes. 


Local news sources approached the ANU for further comment, including clarification around consultation with the centres and what families with children on wait lists for the community centres could expect.


A spokesperson reiterated that while the four community providers had offered “excellent care” for many years, the heritage status of their centres made maintenance difficult, again referencing hail remediation work as an additional complication. 


Readers should be aware that Mr Price’s announcement does not impact the Goodstart Early Learning ANU Centre.


For the original coverage of this story please see here

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