Renee Gazzola, of Ocean Shores, with Jacob (2) and Tahlia (4) from Ocean Shores, pictured outside her workplace in Billinudgel.
Renee Gazzola, of Ocean Shores, with Jacob (2) and Tahlia (4) from Ocean Shores, pictured outside her workplace in Billinudgel.

Mum to quit job if ABC centre closes

RENEE GAZZOLA will probably have to quit work if the ABC Learning Centre at Ocean Shores closes down.

The Ocean Shores mother of two put her kids into long day-care when she went back to work, four days a week, nine months ago and does not believe she has any other option.

ABC Learning Centres went into receivership early this month, putting the future of the nine local centres under a cloud. That cloud lifted for six centres on Wednesday, when receiver for McGrath-Nichol, Chris Honey, released a list of centres to remain open in 2009.

However, that cloud remains over ABC centres at Ocean Shores, Casino and Lismore, which remain under review.

Mrs Gazzola said the loss of the Ocean Shores ABC would make life hard for her.

“I’d have to quit. I would not be impressed if they closed down,” she said.

“I don’t know about other options. I work in Billinudgel and there’s Billi Lids, but I don’t know if they have room, or there’s Cobbers at Mullumbimby and I could use that, but it would be a nuisance to travel.”

Mrs Gazzola works four days a week from 9am to 5.30pm. Her siblings and parents either live too far away or are themselves working and her husband’s parents live in Sydney.

Her four-year-old daughter Tahlia starts school next year but Jacob, 2, will still need child-care.

Mr Honey said most of the centres would continue to operate as usual.

“We expect a number of the remaining centres will also remain open next year; however we need a little more time to examine these centres in more detail, and to ensure that the correct decision on their future is made,” he said.

 “I have written to parents and staff at these centres to emphasise that this does not mean their centre will necessarily be closed. It simply means we need more time to examine possible performance improvement initiatives.”

He hoped to tell parents and staff the fate of the remaining centres within a week.

“In the meantime, I would stress that these centres will continue to be open and provide high quality care until at least December 31,” he said.

“I again encourage parents to support the team at their local centre and re-enrol their children in the normal way.”

Mrs Gazzola said she had not contacted other local day-care centres and hoped to re-enrol Jacob at the Ocean Shores ABC for next year.

“I know that they are totally booked out and have got a waiting list, but I’ve just sent stuff off for this year,” she said.

“It would be good if they stayed open. I’m very happy with the ABC.

“It would be very hard for a lot of the other parents.”

Staff were unable to comment yesterday but the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union’s child-care division issued a statement calling the announcement disastrous.

The union said the announcement made by the receivers was likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“This runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy if parents and workers begin to look for other options,” union national secretary Louise Tarrant said.

 “This is catastrophic for all those affected – workers, children, parents and the broader community.”

Parents around Lismore yesterday received some good news with Possums Early Education Centre and Blinky’s Corner Child-care Centre announcing extra places for the holiday season in response to the possible ABC closures.

 The centres are owned by child care provider Early Learning Services and National Operations Manager Jae Fraser said they were ready to take an influx if necessary.

“I know there has been talk lately of the future direction of the Australian child care industry, and here at Early Learning Services we are ready to take an influx of enrolments in the coming months as parents search for a quality home away from home for their children,” he said.

“We are currently accepting enrolments for the holiday period, which I know can be a busy time of year for families and both of the centres remain open with the exception of public holidays, as well as 2009 enrolments.

"We currently have a number of placements available for next year, but I am sure they will fill fast so I encourage any parents who are interested to call sooner rather than later.”

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