The Nationals’ childcare desert relief plan

The Nationals are working to address the ongoing childcare crisis in regional Victoria by developing a specialised policy initiative.

The policy is being developed following extensive analysis of the report titled “Beyond Urban Borders”, which investigates access to childcare in regional Victoria using data, community responses, and interviews with local providers.

The Nationals’ Melina Bath said families in eastern Victoria have for years been struggling to secure childcare places, which are crucial for enabling predominately working women to return to the workforce.

“Many areas in eastern Victoria have been labelled a ‘childcare desert’, meaning supply fails to meet demand, with only one childcare place available for every three children.

“Shockingly, in Gippsland towns like Wonthaggi there is only one childcare place available for every four children, while Orbost has just one place for every 20 children.

“Willow Grove kindergarten currently operating out of the town hall urgently needs a standalone facility to meet the required contact hours. Similarly, after much lobbying Erica kindergarten has only received a one year funding reprieve to sustain its operations.

“Labor’s solution to fix Gippsland’s childcare desert fails to address the broader childcare crisis, noting that its announcement for an early learning centre located in ‘Yallourn – Glengarry,’ is in fact two separate towns located 20 kilometres apart.”

Ms Bath expressed her concern with the Allan Labor Government’s inaction and hollow promises in resolving childcare deserts plaguing regional Victoria.

“In recent months, Labor has abandoned its plans to build more childcare facilities which has a massive impact on the future of our rural towns with families forced to travel or relocate to improve childcare access.”

To shape their policy, The Nationals are actively seeking input from the local community whether from educators, parents, family members, or service providers.

“Sharing your experiences with childcare is crucial to ensuring the policy recognises and addresses the ongoing challenges within the sector for our regional families,” Ms Bath said.

Those interested in contributing to The Nationals’ childcare and early learning policy can contact Ms. Bath’s office directly at 5174 7066 or via email at