By ERWIN CHLANDA
Crèches in three Aboriginal communities are being re-opened with Federal funding similar to what the Central Desert Regional Council had described as inadequate.
“The Australian Government provides around $10,000 per month per site for the running of these crèches,” the Australian Government Department of Education and Training told the Alice Springs News Online this week.
“We are being offered $128,000 per annum to run each centre,” said the Central Desert Regional Council (CDRC) in August.
When a demand for an extra $55,000 a year per centre was not met, the Regional Council shut down the centres at Atitjere, Nyirripi and Yuelamu which had been built at a cost of more than $4m, paid by the Australian Government. The centres had been in operation for less than six months.
The department says: “CDRC did not sign a funding agreement for 2015-16.
“The Australian Government worked urgently to secure a provider to take over all three services as soon as possible through a new agreement with Alice Springs Group School Management Council [which] will manage the crèches until June 30, 2016.”
Federal Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham (pictured above) is quoted in a media release as saying: “This new funding agreement demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australian children, particularly Indigenous children in remote communities, can access high quality early childhood education and care services.
“It not only ensures continuity of service for these crèches and the families who use them, but secures the ongoing employment of the local crèche workers who run these centres, and who were displaced when they were closed.”
Northern Territory Minister for Education Peter Chandler (at left) said the management of each centre would now be coordinated through local schools.
“This agreement means we can again offer the children in each of these communities a holistic approach to learning and a seamless transition from an early childhood learning environment into the school environment,” Mr Chandler is quoted in a media release.
“We want to see this generation become a job ready generation and early education is a great place to start.”
Member for Stuart Bess Nungarrayi Price (at right) welcomed the re-opening of the crèches for local families.
“This is fantastic news, a great outcome for the families of the electorate of Stuart. Crèches in communities provides jobs and allows young mums and dads the opportunity to engage in work.
“Most importantly it gives the children a positive learning environment and a great start to life,” Ms Price is quoted in a media release.
The Central Desert Regional Council has not responded to a request for comment. We will report any comment we may receive.
UPDATE October 21:
According to the Department of Education, the Alice Springs Remote School Management Council is responsible for the overarching management and support for approximately 22 remote community schools in the Alice Springs region. It is a government instrumentality operating under the supervision of the Department of Education.
By ERWIN CHLANDA