A severe shortage in Latrobe Valley childcare places is blocking local parents from returning to work with families languishing on waitlists.
Speaking in state parliament The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said the Andrews Government must expediate childcare reforms in Latrobe Valley.
“Parents are frustrated and concerned that they are being prevented from returning to the workforce as childcare vacancies in Latrobe Valley are scarcer than hens teeth.
“Parents have told me that local centres are advising them that they need to place their children on waitlists prior to being born to secure a place.
“Traralgon mum, Kate Taylor, herself a pre-school teacher, has listed her 8 month old son at 6 different childcare centres.
“The lack of access is threatening our vital workforce from serving our communities.
“The local childcare situation is dire, the region was even described as a ‘childcare desert’ in a Victoria University 2022 Report that examined childcare availability in over 50,000 neighbourhoods across the nation.
“This ‘childcare desert’ did not occur overnight – in Latrobe for every three children requiring childcare, there is only one place available, the Andrews Government has been in charge for the past 8 years.”
Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron said the Andrews Government’s failure to support Latrobe Valley women who need return to work is callous.
“The latest announcement from Labor on increasing childcare places in Latrobe City is disingenuous and an attempt to sanitise bad publicity on the situation.
“An increase in childcare places in Latrobe will not be available until 2028 – we have a serious childcare accessibility problem here and now, the Andrews Government must act now.”
Ms Bath said given the rising cost of living and financial pressure facing families, the need to return to workforce after having a child is greater than ever.
“The financial reality for many families is both parents need to be working to keep the lights on and place food on the table.
“The void in childcare places in Latrobe Valley is nothing new and now it’s become a lucky dip lottery for families – it also highlights the lack of value Andrews Government places on our working mothers.”