Plea for Govt takeover of ABC Learning centres

A BYRON BAY preschool director has called for the Federal Government to fund childcare centres following the collapse of childcare giant ABC Learning.

The future of more than 1000 ABC Learning Centres across Australia is in doubt following the collapse of the company, which was last week placed in receivership.

Byron Bay Community Preschool Director Belinda Abel said she would welcome any move by the Government to step in and fund the ABC centres so they could be run as not-for-profit.

“The former government should never have allowed one private company to have control over so many childcare centres,” Ms Abel said yesterday.

“Early childhood education is not a business. Childcare is not a business. The emphasis should be on quality childcare and education, not on profit.”

Ms Abel said her community-run preschool would be hard-pressed to take in any additional enrolments next year if local ABC centres were forced to close.

The Federal Government has stepped in with a $22 million rescue package to keep the centres open until December 31, but beyond that the future looks uncertain for 1040 centres – servicing 120,000 children – with an estimated 40 per cent of the group not showing a profit.

ABC Learning receivers, McGrathNicol, met with representatives of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union's childcare division this week to discuss the future for childcare workers within ABC centres.

“Our meeting with McGrathNicol was constructive,” union National Secretary Louise Tarrant said.

“We impressed upon the receivers that parents and staff are looking to ABC childcare centres to remain open.

“Uncertainty about the viability of 40 per cent of centres casts doubt about the future of all the centres. That's why it is critical that we quickly establish a credible process for assessing the long-term future of all centres. Parents and workers need a speedy resolution to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the centres.”

Regular updates for families and ABC Learning employees will be provided by ABC Learning's receiver on www.child

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