Parents want Koala Child Care
ON THE eve of Lismore councillors deciding on the fate of the Koala Child Care Centre, parents yesterday urged that it should remain open.
Council staff has recommended the sale of the long day care centre in a report to be tabled at tonight’s meeting after councillors last year identified it for a potential sale during a full review of the 2009/10 budget.
“If the council wants women to continue their careers, the council needs to make sure there are childcare facilities in the area to allow women to work,” Brett Anderson, father of three-year-old Mitchell, said.
“The centre is revenue neutral so it’s not costing council anything and if it’s not costing anything why get rid of it.”
“It’s certainly not costing as much as that White Elephant up on the hill (Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre).”
According to the council’s financial report, the childcare centre had retained earnings of $326,000 at the end of 2009 financial year, but the majority of this is the value of the land and building.
A report to be tabled at tonight’s meeting states the centre only has an operating surplus of $21,000 this year.
Council finance manager Rino Santin said ‘the risk from Council’s prospective is that if the cash position deteriorates then council will need to make a cash contribution towards operations and improvements’.
The report also said there were about 20 other for-profit and not-for profit child care centres located within the Lismore local government area.
However, this is disputed by Mr Anderson, who said once pre-schools are excluded, the real number is closer to 10.
“Mitchell is three and he can’t go to a pre-school. I rang around other centres and was told most of them had waiting lists, St Vincent’s alone has 60 kids waiting to get in,” he said.
“And most of the 10 are not long day care centres and are closed during school holidays, so working parents can’t use them.”
He also rejected the report’s claim that only three other councils provide childcare, providing a list of at least seven that support multiple centres.
Mr Anderson said parents had not been given the opportunity to fully present their opinions about the centre’s future.