BORDER SUPPORT: Cathy McGowan’s comments about funding for mobile childcare services have been supported by Albury Wodonga Community College chief executive Rodney Wangman.The head of the region’s mobile childcare services has pleaded with Education Minister Simon Birmingham to learn from, not argue with, criticism ofnew legislation.
Senator Birminghamthis week accused Indi MP Cathy McGowan of “misleading” her electorate by claimingproposed childcare reforms would make mobile services for farming families unviable.
Albury Wodonga Community College chief executive Rodney Wangman has supported Ms McGowan, saying the MP had a strong understanding of what the rural childcare needed because she helped to set up theservice about 25 years ago.
“Cathy’s comments to the minister were appropriate, it wasn’t misleading, and the minister would be very wise to use more of Cathy McGowan’s experiences,” he said.
MrWangman, Ms McGowan and Mr Birmingham had one thing in common: they knew currentchildcare fundingwas not working.
AWCC lost $200,000 from its bottom line over recent years as operating costs rose higher than government grants, forcingchildcare services atOaklands, Tallangatta Valley and Talgarno to close in December.
Senator Birmingham said the new model would be better for families because it targeted those who worked the most and earned the least, and increased the rebate cap from $7500 to $10,000.
ButMrWangman said proposed legislation lacked detailabout how to keep remaining mobile childcare services runningand reopen others which had closed.
“I’d like to see the legislation passed, but with detail that is embedded that supports rural-based services specifically because, at the moment, it’s not there,” he said. “I’m unable today to have confidence in, will this mean that the recent closures at Oaklands, Talgarno and Tallangatta Valley will be able to be reopened in the new funding arrangement? And will those other locations be able to be reopened under this new legislation?
“My gut feel says it won’t be sufficient.”
The mobile childcare was designed to prevent a return to days where farmers had to bring children with them near dangerous machinery.
“We should have equal access and equity to parents in Oaklands as there is in Albury-Wodonga or metropolitan Sydney because if the minister’s going to say this is about providing services to the needs of all families, why should the people of rural Australia be considered as lesser class citizens?” Mr Wangman said.
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