Lismore family day carer Michelle Nicholls is surrounded by the children she looks after
Lismore family day carer Michelle Nicholls is surrounded by the children she looks after

Childcare shake-up

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

GOONELLABAH mother Michelle Nicholls will have to lodge a development application to look after her friends' children from home if the Lismore City Council changes its local environment plan.

The registered family day carer is one of 120 in the Lismore region who could be affected by the new rules which may come into effect if a motion from Cr Frank Swientek is passed at tomorrow night's Lismore City Council meeting.

Lismore Family Day Care manager Sol Ibrahim said if the motion was passed, it could mean the loss of hundreds of local childcare places.

"It's difficult enough as it is to recruit home carers," he said.

"I've worked for council in a management role, and I doubt very much that any council would conduct the level of assessment we are already doing. DAs would simply duplicate what we already do."

Cr Swientek will move for 'a report to be prepared to show how council can ensure all new child care establishments in residential areas be required to submit DAs and go through a public consultation process for approval'.

He said family day carers, who were allowed to cater for no more than five children under the age of five from home, were not required to submit DAs.

"I've had a number of complaints over the years from people who have had child carers emerge in their neighbourhoods," Cr Swientek said.

"It can result in extra noise and traffic ? it's not a major problem, but it does exist.

"It's not the same as having a family with five children next door because when they're all in the same age group there is a greater impact."

Ms Nicholls said she had already been through a rigorous application process to become a registered carer.

"There are lots of rules and regulations, it's not backyard baby-sitting," she said.

"Lodging a DA would mean more paperwork and more expenses."

Ms Nicholls said carers like herself took the burden off already crammed childcare centres.



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