Seville Grove child care centre may be forced to shut


Director Clair Siaus with David Scheltema and Leanne Dodds at the Mundarda Child Care Centre, which could be forced to shut down because of State Government budget cuts. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Director Clair Siaus with David Scheltema and Leanne Dodds at the Mundarda Child Care Centre, which could be forced to shut down because of State Government budget cuts. Picture: Matt Jelonek

A SEVILLE Grove child care centre is facing an uncertain future after a State Budget decision to withdraw its lease.

Mundarda Child Care Centre is one of 33 community-based childcare centres in WA at risk of being forced to close its doors due to a decision in the Government’s State Budget to withdraw the lease of government managed properties, from June 30, 2018.

Mundarda Child Care Centre director Claire Siaus said too many good things happened at the child care centre for it to close down.

“We believe that we are an important part of the community,” she said.

“We have got quite a few children with some additional needs that come to use and can’t go to other centres.”

The centre has approached the City of Armadale for help, as its other options are a private takeover or forced closure .

Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones said the City would be reluctant to pick up the cost of yet another State or Federal Government service being withdrawn, particularly given the State Government’s recent involvement in keeping downward pressure on local government rates.

“It is difficult for a local government to keep its rates down when it finds it has to consider picking up accommodation costs for services such as childcare as a result of a unilateral State Budget decision,” he said.

About 20 staff members currently work at the child care centres and about 120 families use it.

The centre also has a waiting list for some of its programs.

Community Services Minister Tony Simpson said the Government maintained its commitment to ensuring accessible and affordable childcare.

He said the Department of Local Government and Communities had met with the centre and was meeting with the City of Armadale on September 8 to identify, discuss and facilitate an effective solution .

“Options include vesting the property or providing a conditional freehold to the centre,” Mr Simpson said.

“There are 1137 child care providers in Western Australia, of these only 33 centres operate from State Government managed properties. It is not appropriate for the State Government, as the child care regulator, to also own or lease property in which child care services are offered.”

Armadale MLA Tony Buti said many local families relied on Mundarda to care for their children and were understandably “upset by this threat to the service”.

“Mundarda is a community based organisation providing high quality early childhood care for local children ranging from babies to after-school and vacation care for students,” he said.

“Community based early childhood centres such as Mundarda are an asset to our community, yet the government is undermining that service and creating uncertainty for families.

“WA has a childcare shortage, with long wait lists for many childcare centres. The government says it wants to encourage women into the workforce, yet this decision by the Liberal Government will make the situation worse.”

People can sign a petition to keep Mundarda and other early childhood centres open at Dr Buti’s office at 2898 Albany Highway Kelmscott.