Media Release: Anger at Council Proposal to Cut Back Children’s Services – But Council backs down on the nuclear optionIn CAPP News, Child Care, Events
Sunday, 4 August 2019
Anger at Council Proposal to Cut Back Children’s Services – But Council backs down on the nuclear option
Angry parents, children’s services workers and local residents have decisively rejected a Port Phillip Council options paper to exit Council run children’s services and to increase costs for other community run services.
Councillors have been considering proposals that range from selling five Council run child care centres on the open market to increasing fees in these centres by $15 per day to ‘full cost recovery’ from community run centres currently supported by Council. The Mayor of Port Phillip, Cr Dick Gross, has described Council’s current child care policy as ‘middle class welfare’.
The Convenor of the Community Alliance of Port Phillip (CAPP), Dr Rhonda Small, said the meeting was outraged at that language and the Council options paper.
She said, “Council’s five centres with 360 children, and community run services with 580 children, are vital hubs and connectors in the community providing high quality care that set the benchmark for other providers.”
“Council and community centres currently provide support for some of the most vulnerable and highly disadvantaged children and families in Port Phillip.”
The meeting was organized by CAPP and drew a packed audience of 100 local residents, that included the Mayor, Cr Gross and a number of Councillors, the Hon Martin Foley, MLA for Albert Park, and Josh Burns, MHR for Macnamara.
Dr Small said that Council officers indicated at the meeting they would narrow the recommendations to Councillors and sale to private operators would not be included.
“The nuclear option may be off the table. This is a small win but with parent costs rising and population growth we need increased spending on children’s services, not less,” she said.
The Council will make a final decision on the future of children’s services in Port Phillip at a meeting on 4 September 2019.
Dominique Barker, Port Phillip parent:
It’s clear to me that council wants to cut its spending in children’s services at a time when this community is growing rapidly. This is so short sighted when we know how vital early childhood services are to a healthy community and healthy children.
Claire Havens, Port Phillip parent:
The community has consistently said that we want to maintain the current mix of council run, community managed and other operators in providing child care services, and Council must listen to us. Early childhood services are crucial to our development as engaged and contributing adults in society.
Dr Rhonda Small, 0434 027 760 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Resolution of the Meeting
Our children are our community’s future. The City of Port Phillip has a long and proud history in providing and supporting children’s services for all our children. They play an enormous role in giving children the best start in life and in building an inclusive community in Port Phillip. They help to cement families’ sense of belonging and connect them with other local community services. The evidence tells us that the benefits of high quality early childhood education and care are felt over the whole life course.
This meeting endorses the recommendations of the Children’s Services Reference Group for continued and indeed enhanced, Council investment in council-run and community-managed children’s centres, kindergartens, playgroups and toy libraries, as well as the Maternal and Child Health Service.
This meeting also recommends that Council:
- embark upon a long term plan for capital investment in renewal and expansion of our children’s services;
- provide leases to services that provide certainty and stability for the future;
- reject the sale, privatisation or transfer of its children’s services assets; and
- maintain its universal approach to the provision of children’s services for all children irrespective of their background or abilities and provide additional resources to services to specifically meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.
This meeting calls on the Community Alliance of Port Phillip to continue working with parents and the community to mobilise support for this resolution and to maximise community attendance at the Council Meeting on Wednesday 4 September when Council will decide its future involvement in children’s services.
To our Councillors, it is time to stand up for our council-run and community managed children’s services – and to work with us, your community. We call on you to be strong in your commitment to increasing Council’s investment in services for children into the future.
Moved by Isabelle Oderberg
Seconded by Josh Burns MP