YANGEBUP Family Centre manager Samantha Williams says she fears for the centre’s future following the announcement of funding cuts by the Barnett government.
Ms Williams says the centre will have to either increase fees to its often low socio-economic clientele, cut services or even close after treasurer Mike Nahan pulled the pin on rental assistance to about 30 family and childcare centres around the state.
The affected centres were set up in the 1980s by the then-state government to deal with looming childcare shortages, but Mr Nahan says since 2008 there’s been a 43 per cent increase in child care places and the funding is no longer needed. (The Ed says: Given Perth’s population has increased by more than 100 per cent in the same period, it seems an odd justification, but we’ll check if he’s indexed his figures).
Cockburn Labor MLA Fran Logan reckons the government isn’t recognising the centres as community lynchpins, and says increased prices will have a terrible impact on local families.
“In areas where they’re doing it tough, they don’t need an added burden,” Mr Logan says.
Mr Nahan says he doesn’t anticipate any closures, with the local government department working with affected centres to ensure a smooth transition.
But with an open tender process facing Yangebup in 2018, Ms Williams is uncertain.
She says the DLGC is encouraging them into a joint venture with other centres so a larger area is covered but she worries the service will become less community-oriented.
Ms Williams says the centre provides a range of services to over 300 families a week; in addition to childcare, they offer playgroup, seniors groups and parenting workshops.
Mr Logan said the centre was “a sanctuary and a lifeline” for FIFO families who felt estranged from the community during the mining boom.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM