New data from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute shows large gaps in the provision of childcare across rural and regional communities, including the Euroa electorate.
The study, which classifies communities as a childcare ‘desert’ or an ‘oasis’, depending on the availability of care, shows most local communities are a desert with either no childcare service or too few places available to meet potential demand.
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the data, unsurprisingly, showed that cities have the best access to childcare.
“The research confirms what we already know; parents in our region are having to drive their children long distances to access childcare.
“Many smaller rural communities like Murchison, Rushworth, Tooborac and Redesdale have no childcare at all.
“Even our larger towns often don’t have enough childcare services to cater for the number of children who live there.
“A family trying to access childcare in Kilmore will have between 2.28 and 6.02 children competing for that place, depending on where they live.
“It’s a similar story in Broadford, where between 2.61 and 5.04 children are vying for a place.”
Ms Ryan said while the region was fortunate to have some great childcare providers, many parents could not return to work because they couldn’t get care.
“I often talk to women in particular who are struggling to return to work because they can’t get their child into care. There is a direct correlation between the accessibility of childcare and the participation of mothers with a child aged under five years in the workforce,” Ms Ryan said.
“Access to childcare is important not only for parents but also to giving children a great start in life. Research shows that children who have high-quality early childhood education and care are more likely to succeed later in life.
“It’s also an important plank in ensuring we can grow our regional economy. If we don’t have these services, young people who want to raise their family in the country will struggle.
“I am committed to working with our communities to improve the access local people have to childcare,” Ms Ryan said.