Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has called for more accessible childcare in the electorate ahead of the May 23 State Budget.
Ms Cleeland took Shadow Treasurer Brad Rowswell on a ‘budget tour’ of the region, stopping at sites across Euroa to discuss the electorate’s needs.
Ms Cleeland said childcare access was a continuing priority as families competed for limited spaces across the electorate.
“There are huge shortages in Avenel, Nagambie and Seymour. While Seymour is receiving a new childcare centre, these issues won’t be resolved overnight,” she said.
“Our major towns aren’t inaccessible backwaters but they are placed at a disadvantage when childcare is so rare.”
Ms Cleeland said fewer childcare spaces had flow-on financial effects for families.
“We have extreme cost of living pressures, as well as a labour crisis – more accessible childcare is important to ensure parents can return to work and alleviate these issues,” she said.
“I’ve spoken to so many parents who are wanting to get back into the workforce but can’t because they are unable to get their kids into childcare.
“This is a real handbrake for us and places a hurdle in front of young people who want to raise their family in the country.
“We’ve got incredible local childcare providers but in some places there’s up to six kids competing for each place. It’s simply not sustainable.”
Mr Rowswell called for the State Government to invest more money into projects in regional Victoria.
Ms Cleeland said childcare reform was necessary.
“Childcare and kinder regulations are incredibly complex. For a regional centre there are licencing, management and land arrangements that often involve all three levels of government,” she said.
“In metro areas childcare centres are usually separated from kindergartens whereas this isn’t the case in regional areas.
“An extra kinder place can mean losing a childcare place and with pressure on both waitlists in places like Avenel it’s just not sustainable for the community with kids and families continually missing out.”